John Jackson, the onetime Olympic boxer awaiting trial on rape and child pornography charges at a detention facility in Puerto Rico, has been denied a review of his bail conditions and the return of property seized during his arrest.
Jackson filed the motions “pro se,” or representing himself, and on Thursday, District Court Chief Judge Robert Molloy denied both without prejudice and ordered that they be stricken from the record.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion on Jan. 6 objecting to Jackson’s pro se efforts, arguing that any matters he wants to raise in court should be filed by his attorney. It further asked the judge to “order the defendant to cease and desist filing pro se motions while he is represented by counsel.”
“The pro se motions filed by the defendant are nonsensical and meritless,” the government wrote in its motion.
Molloy agreed, writing in his order that while criminal defendants have a constitutional right to self-representation, they do not have a right to proceed simultaneously with counsel and pro se.
Jackson, held without bail since Feb. 28, 2019, at the Metropolitan Detention Center Guaynabo in Puerto Rico, was set to stand trial in July but on the day jury selection was to begin, submitted a letter to the court saying he was not satisfied with his counsel from the Federal Public Defender’s Office.
The trial, delayed numerous times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was continued once again while he sought to hire private counsel and in August retained attorney Yohana M. Manning.
“Jackson has not provided any explanation as to why he filed the motions pro se. Moreover, Jackson has not specifically requested to proceed with a ‘hybrid’ representation. Accordingly, the court is without any information to properly consider the merits of allowing Jackson to proceed with representing himself while also having retained counsel,” Molloy wrote.
Federal authorities filed a formal complaint against Jackson in February 2019, accusing him of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, and later added charges related to alleged assaults against two other minors, known as Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3. He faces charges of production of child pornography, rape, and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sex acts.
In the rambling and sometimes incoherent motion appealing for a review of his bail conditions, Jackson wrote that one of his alleged victims, whom he identifies by her initials, was known to present herself as over the age of 18 and was arrested in 2021 for working underage at a bar on Brookman Road on St. Thomas.
“Since defendant Jackson been detained circumstances have change as to the alleged name victim directly as in claims to defendant Jackson’s averment in claim pleading his innocent of any knowledge of the name victim [initials] age,” reads one sentence.
“Also she have been assumed known to coworker at the bar area to be an adult partying out at late nights and having many other multiple adult romantic relationship with adult Taxi driver, and there is school mates attending the same school in the year of the alleged charge incident, willingly to testify as to [initials] known misconduct posing as an young lady over the age of 18 years old and a college student, this consider to newly evidence,” Jackson wrote in his pro se motion.
And despite the trial being delayed when he requested new counsel, Jackson wrote at the end of his motion that his indictment should be dismissed because “over 34 months has now elapsed as to 180 days requirement under Speedy Trial Act has been violated as at a matter of statutes under 18 U.S.C. 3161 Speedy Trial Act.”
In his motion concerning property seized when police executed a search warrant at his St. Thomas home, Jackson requested the return of bed sheets, pillows, and his cell phone, claiming authorities had no right to take them or to search his phone.
“Defendant Jackson further avers the search warrant issued as to electronic devices and items seized exist no evidence attributing to any criminal elements as to the charge indictment also in light as to matter of law opening and search the device defendant Jackson cell phone without obtaining a search warrant with permission to go into the electronic device the cell phone on the day of his arrest where he was taken from the public street at his sons school by excessive arm federal agents drove to his residence under gunpoint by excessive force place in the middle of his residence in front his family and a search beyond the court-issued search warrant amounts to be in violations of the 4th, 8th and 14th Amendment U.S. Constitution,” reads the motion, which goes on to cite case law.
“Wherefore Defendant John Jackson, prayers this motion is granted and or a hearing is ordered as to the claims raise under violation of 4th Amendment U.S. Constitution,” the motion concluded.
Jackson, who represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in boxing at the 2012 Beijing Olympics and had a promising professional career, is currently set to stand trial on Feb. 14 in District Court on St. Thomas.