Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Mensah

June 29, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES MENSAH, 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. #59.

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

The defendant, Charles Mensah (hereinafter, "defendant" or "Mensah"), along with nineteen others was charged in a twenty-four count Indictment with having violated Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, Title 21, United States Code, Section 963 and Title 21, United States Code, Section 843(b). Dkt. #1. The defendant was charged in four separate counts, Counts 1, 2, 5 and 9. Id.

Presently pending before this Court is the defendant's omnibus motion for discovery, a motion to suppress all evidence or derivative information resulting from illegal eavesdropping and a motion to suppress defendant's statement. Dkt. #142. The government has filed its response to defendant's omnibus motion for discovery and the motions to suppress evidence and defendant's statement, as well as a motion for reciprocal discovery. Dkt. #236. This Court's Decision and Order and/or Report, Recommendation and Order with respect to defendant's motions to suppress evidence and statements will be addressed and filed separately. What follows is this Court's Decision and Order with respect to the defendant's omnibus motion for discovery.

DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

Bill of Particulars

With respect to Count 1 of the Indictment, the defendant seeks the following information: the date when it is claimed that the conspiracy began; the date when defendant Mensah is alleged to have joined the conspiracy; the precise manner in which it is alleged that defendant Mensah became a member of the conspiracy; the identity of all known co-conspirators; and the identification of "elsewhere" as referred to in Counts 1 and 2. Dkt. #142, p.3.

As a threshold matter, in its response the government maintains that defendant Mensah has failed to offer any specific facts, reasons or legal authority, to justify a finding that further particularization is necessary. Specifically, with respect to defendant's request for a bill of particulars concerning the development of the conspiracies charged in Counts 1 and 2, the government maintains that it is not required to furnish details concerning the formation of a conspiracy, including when and how it was formed and when a particular defendant joined, because those details need not be proven at trial. Dkt. #236, p.10. With respect to defendant's request for detailed information relating to specific overt acts alleged in furtherance of the conspiracies charged in Counts 1 and 2, the government argues that details such as the exact time and place of the overt acts and names of persons present are not properly the subject of a bill of particulars. Id. at p.11. Moreover, the government states that, "[t]he information in the Indictment, coupled with the discovery materials, which includes transcripts of defendant['s] intercepted conversations and many narrative reports of the investigation, more than adequately inform defendant[ ] of the facts essential to the pending charges." Id. at p.12. Finally, in its conclusion concerning defendant's request for a bill of particulars, the government states, "[b]ecause defendant will be provided with full discovery, exculpatory and impeachment material, a witness list, and exhibit lists, including 3500 materials, well in advance of trial, [he] will not be surprised by the evidence against [him] or be subject to future jeopardy in a way that might otherwise justify ordering the particulars sought." Id. at p.13.

With respect to defendant Mensah's request for a bill of particulars revealing the identity of any co-conspirators, the government states that defendant Mensah knows the identity of his charged co-conspirators and "will learn more identities as trial preparations continue, to include disclosure of impeachment and so-called 3500 material." Dkt. #236, p.10. The government adds, "[t]he criminal investigation is continuing, and that investigation could be compromised if we were required to identify persons who might be charged or even questioned. The government likely will not object to later requests for disclosure of the identities of unindicted co-conspirators as trial approaches, however." Id.

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 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. Accordingly, defendant's request for a bill of particulars is denied.

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), cert. denied, 128 S.Ct. 1690 (2008).

Rule 404(b), 608 and 609 Material

By this request, the defendant requests "that the government disclose any alleged crimes, wrongs or acts of this Defendant which the government intends to offer at trial sufficiently in advance of trial to permit meaningful use by the defense." Dkt. #142, p.4. In its response, the government states that,

[t]he government expects to timely disclose evidence that might fall within the ambit of Fed.R.Evid. 404(b), 608(d) and 609. The government intends to seek to introduce at trial evidence of this activity, as well as similar activity. ... In this case, defendants have not advanced any concrete reason for early disclosure of Rule 404(b) evidence and, therefore, their request should be denied, without prejudice. The government will disclose evidence in its possession that might fall within Fed.R.Evid. 404(b), 607, 608 and 609, and provide notice of its intention to rely upon such evidence when ordered to do so by the trial court. Specifically, at this time, the government is unaware of any evidence within the ambit of Fed.R.Evid. 609, which could be used at trial to impeach the credibility of defendants upon cross-examination. With respect to the disclosure of evidence which falls within Fed.R.Evid. 608, the government notes that it has no obligation to provide a defendant with any information that could be used to impeach him pursuant to Rule 608, should he elect to testify. Furthermore, the government preliminarily notifies defendants that it intends to introduce at trial, pursuant to Rule 404(b), all prior criminal conduct acts or wrongs to show proof of a defendant's motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, and the absence of mistake or accident. ... The government will provide defendants with more definitive notice of its intent to rely on Rule 404(b) evidence when directed to do so by the trial judge, or during trial, if pretrial notice is excused for good cause.

Dkt. #236, pp.24-25.

Rule 404(b) only requires that "the prosecution. . . provide reasonable notice in advance of trial. . . of the general nature of any such evidence it intends to introduce at trial." (Emphasis added). Insofar as the government has indicated that it intends to comply with any pretrial disclosure order entered by the trial judge and further, that it understands its disclosure obligations, defendant's request is denied as moot. The Court notes that the issue of admissibility of such evidence pursuant to Rules 403 and 404(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence is best left to the determination of the trial judge at the time of trial. Accordingly, the defendant's request for an Order with respect to admissibility of such evidence is denied.

With respect to the defendant's request pursuant to Rule 608, Rule 608 does not contain the same pretrial notice as set forth in Rule 404(b). Therefore, there is no requirement on the part of the government to make any disclosure of evidence, or its intent to use evidence at the trial pursuant to Rule 608 at this time. Therefore, defendant's request in this regard is denied. With respect to the defendant's request pursuant to Rule 609, based on the representations made by counsel for the government, defendant's request is denied as moot. The government is hereby reminded that should the government learn of evidence of other crimes, wrongs and acts it intends to offer pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence Rules 608 and 609 (impeachment material) during the trial, the government is hereby directed to provide such information consistent with its disclosure of Jencks material and the disclosure requirements set by the trial judge in advance of the trial.

Disclosure of Material Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E)

By this request, the defendant seeks an Order from this Court requiring the government to disclose any statements of alleged co-conspirators which the government will offer at trial against defendant Mensah, as well as the date when it will be claimed that such statements were made. Dkt. #142, p.4. Because defendant Mensah asserts that the date when such statements were made may impact the admissibility of the statements, he further requests that such statements be disclosed sufficiently in advance of trial to permit meaningful use by the defense. Id.

The government opposes the defendant's request for disclosure of statements of co-conspirators on the grounds that the statements requested are "well beyond the scope of the definition of a defendant's statements in Rule 16(1)(1)(A) through (c) and are not subject to pretrial disclosure under well-settled law." Dkt. #236, pp.15-16. The government further asserts, testimony of out-of-court co-conspirator statements during the course of and in furtherance of a conspiracy is not hearsay testimony; co-conspirator statements are admissions of a party opponent that are specifically excluded from the definition of hearsay. The government as a general matter does not expect to use co-conspirators' statements that may be hearsay because those statements were not made during the course of and in furtherance of a conspiracy, in any event.

Certainly, the United States will proffer evidence in support of the admission of out-of-court co-conspirator statements at the time designated by the trial court. Because defendants offer no legal authority or practical justification for an early proffer or discovery of hearsay statements that may be used during a proffer for a Rule 104(a) ruling that a statement is admissible as a co-conspirator statement pursuant to Rule 801(d)(2)(E), their motions seemingly seeking an order requiring that disclosure should be denied. In any event, denial of the motions at this time will not prejudice defendants, as we expect there will be timely disclosure of documents and 3500 material that is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.