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The United States of America v. Graig Pavis

June 15, 2012

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
GRAIG PAVIS, DEFENDANTS.



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

DECISION & ORDER

Before the Court is the omnibus motions filed on behalf of defendant Graig Pavis (Docket No. 180).*fn1

Background

On February 25, 2010, the Grand Jury for the Western District of New York issued a Superceding Indictment charging defendants Wesley Albert ("Albert"), Stephen Catone ("Catone"), Joseph Tomasino ("Tamasino") Stephanie Eberz ("Eberz") and Craig Pavis ("Pavis") with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841 (b)((1)(A) and 846. [Count 1]. Albert was further charged with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine on March 19, 2009 in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C) [Count 2]; the manufacture and possession with intent to distribute marijuana plants in violation 21 U.S.C. §§841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C) [Count 3]; and using 2546 Niagara Falls Boulevard for the purpose of distributing and using cocaine [Count 5]. Catone was charged with using 2546 Niagara Falls Boulevard for the purpose of distributing and using cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§856(a)(1) and 856(a)(2) [Count 4]. Tomasino was also charged with using 6935 Ward Road for the purpose of unlawfully storing, distributing and using cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §856(a)(2) [Count 6]. Eberz was also charged with using 2505 Tonawanda Creek Road for the purpose of storing and distributing cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §856(a)(2) [Count 7]; and in making a materially false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on January 15, 2010 in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2) [Count 8]. Finally, forfeiture allegations were asserted against Catone and Tomasinio pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §853.

Defendants Albert, Catone, Tomasino and Eberz have all entered guilty pleas to various charges in this case. The motion filed on behalf of defendant Pavis is the sole remaining motion seeking pretrial relief in this case.

Discovery

The defendant has set forth a variety of items sought by way of pretrial discovery in this matter. It appears that the government has provided much of the discovery sought by the defendant. At the time of the oral argument, the parties did not identify any outstanding discovery issues.

Brady & Jencks Material

The defendant seeks the disclosure of all potentially exculpatory materials, 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. 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." U.S. v. Kiszewski, 877 F.2d 210 (2d Cir. 1989). The defendant also seeks disclosure of the statements of witnesses under the Jencks Act (15 U.S.C. §3500).

The government states that it is aware of its obligations under Brady and the Jencks Act, and that it the defendant has already received statements of potential witnesses in connection with voluntary discovery in this matter. (Docket No. 182 at ¶¶ 7-8).

Neither the Supreme Court, nor the Second Circuit*fn2 , have ruled directly on whether there is a meaningful distinction between "exculpatory Brady" and "impeachment Brady" materials for purposes relating to the time within which 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 governments 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. U.S. 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); U.S. 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); U.S. 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 U.S. V. Wilson, 565 F.Supp 1416 (S.D.N.Y. 1983) (impeachment material need not be produced prior to trial); U.S. 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); U.S. 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. U.S. v. Campagnuolo, 592 F.2d 852, 860 (5th Cir. 1979). But see U.S. 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 examine documents can be avoided." U.S. v. Percevault, 490 F.2d 126 (2d Cir. 1974); U.S. V. Green, 144 F.R.D. 631 (W.D.N.Y. 1992).

In the instant case, and while balancing all of the above, the Court concludes that disclosure of such inculpatory and impeachment material, if any exists, in accordance with the common practice in this district (prior to trial so long as it is disclosed in sufficient time for the defendants to ...


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