The State of New York v.BEHROOZ KANANI
Behrooz Kanani was convicted of Sodomy 1. His sentencing took place shortly after the publication of Andrew Vachss' "Our Endangered Species" article in Parade magazine (03/29/98). In the sentencing Judge Antonio Brandveen cited Vachss' article, and then sentenced Kanani to 100 - 300 years in state prison. Amy Belger, the Assistant District Attorney on the case, credits the article as making "an impact that helped my position at sentencing." Here's a portion of the transcript from People v. Behrooz Kanani, Ind. No. 4192/90.
SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF NEW YORK: CRIMINAL TERM: PART
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK -against- BEHROOZ KANANI,
111 Centre Street
B E F O R E:
HONORABLE ANTONIO BRANDVEEN, Justice
A P P E A R A N C E S:
For the People:
ROBERT MORGENTHAU, ESQ.
For the Defendant:
RICHARD VERCHICK, ESQ.
THE COURT [to Kanani]: ... twelve people voted you guilty. And that was overturned on a technicality with regard to the videotape evidence of the children testifying before the grand jury. And then a second jury found you guilty.
You sat in front of two judges. Unfortunately, the other judge is not here, but I'm sure where he is, he is looking down on all of us in terms of this.
I kind of think that the juries that spoke, the judge, the grand jury, they are all asking for what they had asked for all along, for fairness be done and justice be afforded to all.
And with that in mind, it just comes to my thinking that this Sunday I was looking through the papers and came across Parade magazine. And Parade magazine had this article on our endangered species. Andrew Vachss, the last name is V-A-C-H-S-S, wrote the article.
That article deals with children. And it talks about all the pious rhetoric on the planet will not save one child. And it goes in depth to talk about the animal kingdom.
And among even animals, the predators of the species are considered defective by other pack animals. Not only do they decrease the pack's numbers by direct attacks on their own young, but they cannot be relied upon to guard the offspring of others while pack members hunt, so they are expelled.
Likewise, predators in a species are not tolerated, they are banished, avoided or killed. These are not moral judgments, they are biologically driven among all species but our own.
And you know something? Human beings after a while get the point, too. But human beings tolerate. You heard and we heard your former wife. She got up and she is still in a situation in which she is thinking about you, but differently than before. And you caused that, not anybody else in the world.
You know, I've listened to you on the witness stand. You were on there for four hours, three on one day and one on the next. I listened to you in the court room and I listened to you just right now, just moments ago. I don't think anybody can tacitly condone anything you did: Your wife isn't, her husband isn't, and your daughters are not.
It takes more to be a father than donating sperm. What it takes is protection, nurturing and being there when they really need it.
Now, what did you do? I mean, did you do something to further their development into the world as young women? Or did you do something that has immeasurable impact upon them the rest of their natural lives?
It took a lot of courage to take that stand. And I think their mother speaks volumes when she says that the youngest daughter, it is very hard for her to take the stand. And you could tell. Now, your other daughter, she is coming around.
But I sit here and wonder. I say, gee, you know, you talk about why they are doing this to you, but I think other people are asking, why did you do it to them?
Was it some sort of self-sense substance abuse that drove you to this? Maybe it was a compelling family circumstance. Maybe it happened to you and maybe you are just getting back. Maybe that's the way you think life should be dealt with. I haven't heard that.
You stood up once again and say you don't have any remorse. I found that profound, especially when the judge is sitting here trying to listen to all of this, any contrition, any sorrow, any remorse.
These young women are wrecked and you did that. Not anybody else in the whole world, you did that.
You were afforded a fair trial. I truly believe there is no technical error involved in any of this because I have gone over it and reviewed it, especially since your attorney has already made the application, and we have all prepared with respect to the law. That is, the assistant district attorney, your attorney and myself.
I sit here and I say, what is he asking for? Because if you're not showing any mercy and if you're not showing any sorrow or any contrition and if you reach out and try to further destroy, who made these young women come back here? I had no involvement in this case. I was just a total stranger. I didn't even know this happened.
What kind of sentence would a judge pass out for a person like you? You know, the assistant district attorney over here is asking for the maximum sentence allowable by law. Why do you think she is doing that?
I have not in my time given out maximum sentences that often, and the reason why is they should be reserved for special situations in which a review of the evidence shows that there is really no other alternative than that.
And in this case there isn't one. Every single time that you did this deserves eight-and-a-third to twenty-five years in jail. All twelve of those counts deserve that. And to run it concurrently would be the height of condoning everything, and that wouldn't be right.
I've reviewed Judge Rothwax's sentence and I think it should be more. I think it should be consecutive.
I think the prosecutor is quite right, you should serve every single one of those one right after the other to remind you that you shouldn't do that and, hopefully, this will deter other people from doing this in the future, because this is the silent national crisis that's going on.
This is bad. This is really terrible. This is so bad that one cannot even think about the depth of harm that you've done to your own daughters.
So it is the sentence of this Court that you serve eight-and-a-third to twenty-five years in state prison on each and every one of the twelve counts that you have been convicted of; that you serve those sentences concurrently—
MS. BELGER: Consecutively.
THE COURT: I'm sorry, consecutively, not concurrently. Consecutively. And that you pay a mandatory surcharge of $100.
At this time, counsel, please advise your client of his right to appeal his consecutive sentence with regard to his eight-and-a-third to twenty-five years on each count.
MR. VERCHICK: Judge, I would ask you to reverse the judgement on the surcharge.
THE COURT: No.
MR. VERCHICK: At this time, your Honor, I am informing my client he has thirty days in which to appeal.
If you can't afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
I am handing you written notice of how to protect that appeal, and I will be filing an appeal.
MS. BELGER: I am also filing, in the event that it becomes relevant, a release notification.
THE COURT: If this man is ever released, you want everybody connected with this case; that is on the daughters ... ?
MS. BELGER: The family, yes.
THE COURT: You want them notified?
MS. BELGER: Yes.
THE COURT: Sir, if you ever get out, you will have to, as a result of this crime, register with the State of New York as a sex offender for the rest of the time.
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