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United States v. McCoy

April 20, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
BRIAN MCCOY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Hugh B. Scott

Order

This matter is referred to the undersigned to hear and determine pretrial matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(A) and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), to submit proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition of any motion excepted by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).

The instant matter before the court is the Defendant's omnibus motion (Docket No. 12) which seeks the following relief: production of Brady materials; identification of informants; production of Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) material; production of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 discovery and provision of Rule 12(d) notice of the Government's intention regarding evidence; production of Jencks Act material and the timing of that production; issuance of a Bill of Particulars; search of Government agents' personnel files; preservation of evidence; production of residual exception statements under Federal Rule of Evidence 807; and request for an audibility hearing. The motion also seeks suppression of evidence and statements; these will be considered in a separate Report & Recommendation.

The government has filed responding papers (Docket No. 15) and a suppression hearing was held on November 21, 2008 (Docket Nos. 32, 36), and the motion was deemed submitted (with the suppression relief sought) on March 31, 2009, when post-hearing briefing was submitted (see Docket Nos. 42, 43).

BACKGROUND

Defendant was charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2). Defendant, having been convicted of a felony in 2001, was found on or about June 30, 2007, to be in possession of a Colt AR-15 A2, .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle and 59 rounds of ammunition (Docket No. 1, Indict.).

DISCUSSION

I. Brady Materials

First, defendant has requested that the Government disclose all materials potentially favorable to the defendant, including information to be used for the impeachment of the Government's witnesses, as required under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and its progeny (Docket No. 12, Def. Atty. Aff. ¶¶ 6, 10-14). Defendant seeks Brady material produced well before the eve of trial (id. ¶¶ 10-14). Brady material, as those cases have come to define it, includes all evidence which may be favorable to the defendant and material to the issue of guilt or punishment. Such evidence includes "[a]ny and all records and/or information which might be helpful or useful to the defense in impeaching . . . [and] [a]ny and all records and information revealing prior misconduct . . . attributed to the [Government's] witness." United States v. Kiszewski, 877 F.2d 210 (2d Cir. 1989).

The defendant's motion identifies numerous specific categories of documents encompassing both exculpatory and impeachment Brady materials which they seek to obtain. The Government responds that it intends to produce Brady materials when it produces Jencks Act items, no later than two weeks before trial (Docket No. 15, Gov't Response at 4-5).

It is unclear as to whether the Government's response included considerations regarding "impeachment" Brady material as well as exculpatory Brady material.

Neither the Supreme Court, nor the Second Circuit*fn1 , have ruled directly on whether a there is a meaningful distinction between "exculpatory Brady" and "impeachment Brady" materials for purposes relating to the timing such information must be disclosed. Several other courts have discussed the issue at hand, which often arises in the context of a potential, if not inherent, conflict between the Government's obligations to disclose under Brady and the Government's right to delay disclosure of certain information pursuant to the Jencks Act. Those cases suggest that the court has some discretion with respect to directing the timing of such disclosure. United States v. Campagnuolo, 592 F.2d 852 (5th Cir. 1979) (the court interpreted Brady to require disclosure "at the appropriate" time, which often is prior to trial); United States v. Perez, 870 F.2d 1222 (7th Cir. 1989) (the Government's delay in disclosing Brady material violates due process only if the delay prevented the defendant from receiving a fair trial); United States v. Ziperstein, 601 F.2d 281 (7th Cir. 1979) (a defendant receives a fair trial, notwithstanding delayed disclosure of Brady material, as long as disclosure is made before it is too late for the defendant to make use of any benefits of the evidence); but see United States v. Wilson, 565 F. Supp. 1416 (S.D.N.Y. 1983) (impeachment material need not be produced prior to trial); United States v. Biaggi, 675 F. Supp. 790 (S.D.N.Y. 1987) (information bearing on a witness' credibility may be turned over at the same time as [Jencks Act] materials); United States v. Feldman, 731 F. Supp. 1189 (S.D.N.Y. 1990) (it is sufficient for the Government to disclose Brady impeachment materials along with [Jencks Act] materials).

The Jencks Act relates only to "statements" made by Government witnesses. Such statements may include inconsistencies which make them useful for impeachment purposes, and thus, subject them to disclosure under Brady principles. To this extent, it has been suggested that the constitutional requirements underlying Brady could act to modify the Jencks Act. United States v. Campagnuolo, 592 F.2d 852, 860 (5th Cir. 1979); but see United States v. Presser, 844 F.2d 1275 (6th Cir. 1988) (the Government may not be compelled to pretrial disclosure of Brady or Jencks material). The record in this case does not reflect whether any of the materials withheld by the Government may be considered both Brady and Jencks material. Certainly "impeachment Brady" material may include several items which are not considered "statements" under the Jencks Act.

This Court believes that fundamental fairness and the constitutional due process requirements which underlie Brady mandate that the Court have some discretion with respect to the timing of the disclosure of such information, even if it may be considered combined Brady/Jencks material. Indeed, even with respect to purely Jencks Act materials, the Second Circuit has stated that "pre-trial disclosure will redound to the benefit of all parties, counsel and the court, . . . sound trial management would seem to dictate that Jencks Act material should be submitted prior to trial . . . so that those abhorrent lengthy pauses at trial to ...


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