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United States v. Orrock

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 26, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff
v.
Craig P. Orrock, Defendant

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO CONTINUE SENTENCING HEARING [ECF NO. 286]

          JENNIFER A. DORSEY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Craig Orrock is a former attorney who worked for the Internal Revenue Service and spent the bulk of his career as a sole practitioner specializing in tax law. After several defendant-requested continuances, often founded on Orrock’s claims that he needed additional time to prepare for trial because he had chosen to represent himself, the jury found Orrock guilty of two counts of evasion of payment and assessment of tax and one count of attempt to interfere with administration of internal revenue laws.

         Orrock’s sentencing hearing, originally scheduled for August 26, 2019, was continued to September 30, 2019, at Orrock’s request and based on his claims of poor health.[1] Orrock now moves for another continuance-this time for an additional 60 days.[2] He represents that he needs to present testimony from numerous witnesses to disprove the tax-loss amount that the government has calculated. He also states that he’ll use the additional time to “attempt to get an expert witness to testify concerning the deductibility of the losses . . . under the tax law, and that the tax could have been substantially reduced if not eliminated by Orrock filing a claim for refund carrying back the net operating losses.”[3] He does not identify who that witness might be or how he would go about locating such an expert. Reminding the court of Orrock’s rich history of delays in this case, the government vehemently opposes this request for yet another continuance.[4]

         Discussion

         A 60-day continuance of the already-extended sentencing date is not warranted. Orrock has known about the need to gather the evidence he identifies for years. At the very least, he has known since the verdict was read on May 13, 2019, that he needed to start preparing for his sentencing hearing. But Orrock obviously waited until the eve of this continued sentencing date to start doing that work, as he did not file this new continuance request until just seven days before the scheduled sentencing hearing. And his decision to delay this preparation certainly does not justify another two months to give him a chance to start looking for an expert to support his tax-loss theories.

         Nevertheless, the court recognizes that this is a document-intensive case involving events that span decades. Orrock has now outlined the list of witnesses that he intends to present at his sentencing hearing.[5] Although I reject as wholly meritless Orrock’s attempts to blame his conviction or delays in sentencing preparation on anything that the court, the prosecution, or his standby counsel has done, and ignorance of the law is no excuse-particularly for a former tax lawyer like Orrock-I find good cause for a brief, final continuance of this sentencing hearing to allow Orrock to take steps necessary to bring witnesses to the hearing so he can present their testimony.[6] However, no additional time to search for and hire an expert witness will be afforded because Orrock has shown an utter lack of diligence by taking no meaningful steps toward that goal in the more than four months since trial ended.

         Conclusion

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Orrock’s Motion to Vacate the Sentencing Date of 9/30/2019 and to Reschedule in 60 Days [ECF No. 286] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The sentencing hearing is continued to 10/18/19 at 9:30 a.m.

         The court will grant Orrock no further continuances of this sentencing hearing absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances. Witness-scheduling or availability problems, inability to obtain evidence, and unpreparedness will not constitute extraordinary circumstances. Orrock must be prepared to present any evidence that he plans to present in support of his sentencing at this 10/18/19 hearing. No additional supplements to Orrock’s sentencing memorandum or objections to the PSR will be entertained.

---------

Notes:

[1] ECF No. 277.

[2] ECF No. 286.


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