New York, July 26 (IANS) A second-year Indian-American law student has filed a lawsuit against Manhattan's famed Indian-American US district attorney Preet Bharara and the US Marshals Service for seizing her phone illegally.
The lawsuit filed July 10 by Benula Bensam accuses Bharara of instigating involvement of the US Marshals leading to the illegal seizure of her cell phone during the high-profile insider trading trial of former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta, according to JD Journal.
According to court rules, members of the public are not allowed to bring cell phones into the US District Court in Manhattan and need to leave their electronic devices with the security when entering the building, the legal news journal said.
The event happened after Bensam started writing letters to Judge Jed Rakoff during Gupta's trial.
Bensam claims she was attending the Gupta trial as a law student "to understand the process of litigation", but to understand things better she began writing letters to the judge.
When the fact of the law student trying to communicate with the judge in the high-profile matter came to notice of the marshals, according to the complaint of Bensam, the marshals told court security to seize her cell phone and keep it overnight, the Journal said.
The lawsuit mentioned that Bensam's phone had been returned the next day, but there was a probability that it had been turned on and searched.
Undeterred by the event of having her cell phone seized overnight June 4, the law student tried June 6 to deliver a fourth letter to Rakoff.
On that day, the judge called her before the bench and asked her to refrain from communicating with him, because it might seem as if she were trying to influence the outcome of the case.
However, Bensam maintains that the US Marshal's Service illegally seized her phone, and "the US Marshals are to be held responsible for actions taken by court security officers for their role in the seizure of my phone".
The lawsuit accused concerned officers of "unreasonable search and seizure". It also claimed "it is not a crime for a disinterested party to write letters to a judge on the subject of a trial".