Judge throws out prison sentence after Charlotte attorney slept during trial

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An appellate court threw out a man's 30-year prison sentence and conviction because his attorney, Nick Mackey, allegedly slept during the trial.

Mackey's client, Nicholas Ragin, was indicted in 2004 on accusations he was involved in a plot to force young girls to have sex with men at Charlotte apartment complexes.

Ragin was convicted and sentenced to 360 months in prison but quickly began levying allegations against his own defense counsel.

He penned a handwritten letter in June of 2006 and said "[Mackey] even had the audacity to fall asleep twice during the trial.

Ragin's appeal reached an appellate court last year. During hearings, jurors and defense attorneys for other defendants testified about what they saw.

Attorney Peter Adolf said the judge once said Mackey's name loudly and Adolf testified that Mackey "jumped up and sort of looked around and was licking his lips.". A juror also testified that Mackey "[t]otally dozed off", according to court documents.

Matthew Pruden, an attorney who represented Ragin in his appeal, said that juror was a key witness in winning the appeal.

"He's certainly happy that he gets an opportunity obviously before he felt like he didn't get a fair shot," Pruden said.

Mackey reached out to Channel 9 and provided the following statement:

Although I did not follow the appeal of this case, I have recently seen news reports about it.

In order not to say anything that may adversely affect the defendant/appellant in any way regarding the

Government’s future decisions about this case I will not have any further comments other than this release.

After spending countless hours from 2004 – 2006 preparing to defend my client and going through a three week trial I am extremely happy to learn that his appeal was successful!!

I have always maintained and still do maintain that the allegations against me regarding this case are untrue and are the result of a contentious political battle for Sheriff. I have come to expect that people and media outlets will distort my record and/or actions, but I am not use to attorney’s disparaging a Federal Judge in this way.

I understand and expect for defense counsel to do anything within ethical bounds in order to defend their clients. But to imply that a Presiding Federal Court Judge would allow defense counsel to “sleep almost every morning and afternoon” “for 30 minutes” as your station has reported, and do nothing, is ridiculous and, in my view, offensive to the Judge and me. I will leave it to each person to form their own opinions as to how realistic that is.

‘Candor to the Court’ is a very important part of our legal system and 99% of the time it is automatic. I submit to you that it is sorely missing in this instance.

With that aside, I will say again that I am very happy that the defendant/appellant was successful in his appeal. I wish him well.

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