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United States v. Knight

September 2, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DION D. KNIGHT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

This case was referred to the undersigned by the Hon. William M. Skretny, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), for all pretrial matters and to hear and report upon dispositive motions. Dkt. #60.

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

Before the Court is defendant Dion D. Knight's omnibus motion for discovery. Dkt. #127. In addition to the relief sought in their own separately filed motions, each of which will be the subject of a separate Decision and Order, defendants Quentin Leeper, Ronquike Maisonet and Major Anthony Newton join in the aforementioned motion filed by defendant Dion D. Knight. See Dkt. ## 114, 125, and 126. Defendant Dion D. Knight similarly seeks this Court's permission to join in the motions filed by defendants Quentin Leeper, Ronquike Maisonet and Major Anthony Newton. Thereafter, the government filed a consolidated response to all of the pending motions, including the above-described motion for discovery. Dkt. #132. At the conclusion of its consolidated response, the government has made a request for reciprocal discovery pursuant to Rule 16(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Id. Each of the defendant's requests and the government's response will be separately addressed below using the headings set forth in defendant's motion. The following Decision and Order will principally address defendant Dion D. Knight's motion for discovery but will apply with equal force to those defendants who have "joined" in the relief sought by defendant Dion D. Knight. For the following reasons, defendant's motion for discovery is granted in part and denied in part.

DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

Defendants Quentin J. Leeper, Ronquike E. Maisonet, Raymond A. Hodnett, Major Anthony Newton, and Dion D. Knight are charged along with six co-defendants in a multi-count Superceding Indictment with having violated Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 846 and 853(a) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2. Dkt. ## 1 (Indictment) and 66 (Superceding Indictment). With respect to outstanding discovery, the government states:

[t]he government contends that it had provided, pursuant to voluntary discovery and requests made by defendants, the wiretap application, affidavit, warrant, sealing order, search warrant and inventories and affidavits thereto, preliminary laboratory reports, two DVDs containing all pertinent conversations, and transcripts thereof, constituting all material presently within its possession that is within the purview of Rule 16 and in compliance with Rule 12(b)(4)(B) and believes that discovery is thereby complete.

Dkt. #132, ¶ 4 (internal footnote omitted).

"Bill of Particulars"

The defendant asserts that he requires a bill of particulars setting forth information concerning the conspiracy alleged in the Indictment. Dkt. #127, ¶ 6(a) -6(g). Specifically, the defendant seeks the identity or information sufficient to identify each "unknown" person referenced in the Indictment, as well as, the nature of his or her relationship to any of the other defendants. In addition, the defendant seeks information to establish the precise date and place it is alleged the defendant became a member of the conspiracy, conduct alleged to have been in furtherance of the conspiracy, any other overt acts that the government intends to prove at trial that are not recited in the Indictment and the amount of each controlled substance that the defendant and each of the other co-defendants is alleged to have manufactured, distributed and possessed. Id. In response, the government maintains that the Indictment, together with the discovery provided is more than sufficient and that the demand for a bill of particulars is unwarranted. Moreover, the government states, "[t]he volume of discovery provided thus far in this action provides an overall picture of each defendant's culpability and actions relative to the conspiracy ... " Dkt. #132, ¶ 17.

The defendant's request for a bill of particulars is DENIED. It has become axiomatic that the function of a bill of particulars is to apprise a defendant of the essential facts of the crime for which he has been charged. United States v. Salazar, 485 F.2d 1272, 1277-78 (2d Cir. 1973); cert. denied, 415 U.S. 985 (1974); Wong Tai v. United States, 273 U.S. 77 (1927). The charges in the Superceding Indictment, along with the discovery materials provided by the government, clearly inform the defendant of the essential facts of the crimes charged. As a result, the defendant is not entitled to, nor is he in need of, the "particulars" being sought for that purpose.

A bill of particulars should be required only where the charges of the indictment are so general that they do not advise the defendant of the specific acts of which he is accused." United States v. Feola, 651 F. Supp. 1068, 1132 (S.D.N.Y. 1987), aff'd, 875 F.2d 857 (2d Cir.) (mem.), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 834, 110 S.Ct. 110, 107 L.Ed.2d 72 (1989); see also United States v. Leonelli, 428 F. Supp. 880, 882 (S.D.N.Y. 1977). "Whether to grant a bill of particulars rests within the sound discretion of the district court." United States v. Panza, 750 F.2d 1141, 1148 (2d Cir. 1984) (citing United States v. Burgin, 621 F.2d 1352, 1358-59 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1015, 101 S.Ct. 574, 66 L.Ed.2d 474 (1980)); see also [United States v.] Bortnovsky, 820 F.2d [572] at 574 [(2d Cir. 1987)]. "Acquisition of evidentiary detail is not the function of the bill of particulars." Hemphill v. United States, 392 F.2d 45, 49 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 877, 89 S.Ct. 176, 21 L.Ed.2d 149 (1968).

United States v. Torres, 901 F.2d 205, 234 (2d Cir. 1990); see also United States v. Chen, 378 F.3d 151, 163 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 994 (2004); United States v. Porter, No. 06-1957, 2007 WL 4103679 (2d Cir. Nov. 19, 2007).

"Evidence of Other Crimes Pursuant to Rule 404(b)"

By this request, the defendant is seeking the disclosure of all documents and other tangible objects that tend to show acts or crimes not named in the Indictment upon which the government intends to rely to demonstrate Knight's motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident. Dkt. #127, ¶¶ 7-8. In its response, the government does notify the defendant of its intention to offer proof during its case-in-chief of such crimes, wrongs and acts and that such proof is both relevant and admissible pursuant to Rule 404(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence. To the extent not already produced or made available to the defendant, the government states that it will provide this information consistent with its disclosure of Jencks material. Dkt. #132, ¶ 13. Based on the representations made by counsel for the government, defendant's request is DENIED as moot.

"Evidence Pursuant to Rule 609"

By this request, the defendant seeks the production of any evidence of prior convictions of witnesses which may be used for impeachment at trial. Dkt. #127, ΒΆ 9. The government has agreed to disclose the conviction records of all witnesses it intends to call to testify at trial. The government further states that it will provide evidence of other crimes, wrongs and acts under Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b), 608 and 609 which may be used as impeachment material, "consistent with its disclosure of Jencks ...


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