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United States v. Urena

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 1, 2014

UNITED STATES
v.
CARLOS URENA and LIMET VASQUEZ, Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

On March 23, 2014, the Government filed a motion in limine, seeking to limit the defense's cross-examination of a prospective witness, Samuel Fernandez. Dkt. 1057. After a brief colloquy on the record, the Court directed the Government to submit a supplemental letter, expanding on the issues addressed in its letter, and addressing questions the Court had raised about the legal status under Federal Rule of Evidence 609 of several prior arrests. On March 26, 2014, the Government filed a supplemental letter. Dkt. 1061. With this letter, the Government has clarified that it seeks to preclude the defense from cross-examining Fernandez about a specified set of "prior bad acts for which he was arrested and which have no bearing on his credibility or this case." Id. On March 31, 2014, defendant Carlos Urena submitted a letter opposing the Government's motion. Dkt. 1064.

The Government's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

At the outset, the Court will narrow the issues in dispute. Urena represents that he does not seek to inquire into either Fernandez's (1) conviction for disorderly conduct in 2002; or (2) arrest for driving with a suspended license in 2006. For its part, the Government does not seek to preclude Urena from cross-examining Fernandez about (1) his conviction for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell in the Third Degree on November 5, 2007; or (2) his conviction for Fraudulent Accosting on December 14, 2012, or the conduct underlying this conviction.

The parties therefore dispute whether Urena may cross examine Fernandez regarding the following six prior acts:

1. A January 31, 2004 assault of two individuals for which Fernandez was arrested. The case was dismissed.
2. A March 14, 2004 assault of an individual where Fernandez allegedly stabbed the victim in the chest and hit the victim with a beer bottle. Fernandez was arrested and apparently adjudicated as a juvenile, but no arrest or conviction appears on his record.
3. A September 1, 2004 assault of an individual who was punched in the head. The case was dismissed.
4. A March 17, 2006 arrest for possession of marijuana. Fernandez pled guilty to a Class B Misdemeanor and was sentenced to time served.
5. A May 1, 2006 arrest for possession of over 25 grams of marijuana. Fernandez pled guilty to a Class B Misdemeanor and was sentenced to a conditional discharge.
6. A December 6, 2012 arrest in connection with a domestic violence incident, where Fernandez was accused of threatening his girlfriend with a knife and striking her in the face. The case was dismissed.

The Government has proffered that Fernandez will testify about an incident in which a group of individuals assaulted him. Fernandez will identify two of these individuals as defendant Carlos Urena and "Wilson, " whom the Court understands to be Wilson Espinosa ("Boquita"), who is now ...


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