Court bars emergency release filings for imprisoned ex-judge

After a former state district judge made several requests for emergency compassionate release from federal prison, the court overseeing the filings has ordered him to stop, records show.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett ordered both the defendant, Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, and the government from making additional filings concerning Delgado’s emergency request to be released from federal prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citing underlying medical issues, counsel for Delgado made requests since late April, when the first request for compassionate release was filed by Delgado’s attorney, Michael McCrum.

Delgado, 67, suffers from a litany of medical issues; including hyperglycemia, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, a heart condition and a prior liver transplant, which requires him to take bi-weekly medication, the court document filed in late April stated.

That filing painted a concerning picture of lack of safety protocols inside the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, where Delgado was placed as a precaution to treat his medical issues.

The filing in late April also pointed to the high number of COVID-19 cases reported within the facility, and at that time, the number of deaths of inmates held at the facility.

Since the first filing, Delgado’s counsel has submitted two responses, and two supplemental responses, records show.

For its part, the government has pushed back on the premise that Delgado, who has served less than six months of a 60-month-sentence, should be allowed compassionate release due to the pandemic.

The government’s response states that although Delgado made his request to his case manager on April 1, he was actually required to advise the prison’s warden to begin the administrative process of asking for the compassionate release.

“This Court cannot grant judicial relief until, as the statute provides, the warden either denies the request or 30 days have passed since the warden of FMC Fort Worth received the defendant’s request, whichever is earlier. Because the defendant has not yet exhausted his administrative remedies as required by law, this Court should dismiss his motion,” the court records state.

With regard to his request to be sent home to serve his punishment there, the government opposes the accommodation.

The government is clear; they don’t believe Delgado, if released to home confinement, would be able to adhere to the conditions set forth, pointing to his continued alcohol use after being given a new liver several years ago.

“The defendant has also shown a disregard for his own health over the years, most specifically by continuing to drink alcohol heavily even after he was somehow able to procure a liver transplant for himself. The evidence does not support that the defendant would suddenly start to follow medical advice to avoid contracting COVID-19 if he were granted the relief he seeks. For these reasons there would be no meaningful mitigation of the risk the defendant faces regarding COVID-19 were he to be released,” the government argued in the filing.

In their final arguments, the government makes it clear that allowing Delgado to go home would send a bad message to the community; as Delgado has served less than 10% of his 60-month prison sentence.

“His age and medical conditions never got in the way of him committing his crimes, and they should not be something he can hide behind now to avoid the consequences of his actions. He already received a very generous sentence relative to the advisory range of imprisonment he faced, despite never taking responsibility for his actions,” the document stated. “Granting him the additional and extreme relief he now seeks is not warranted by the facts of this case, the law or common sense, and would not be in the interests of justice.”

In its final filing on May 15, the government asked the court, which it believes does not have jurisdiction over this request, to deny another of Delgado’s supplemental emergency requests.

A ruling from Judge Bennett on Delgado’s request to be sent home is pending.