United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SPECIFIC DISCOVERY
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Specific Discovery, filed on July 7, 2017 (Doc.
15). Having considered the parties' written
arguments and the applicable law, the Court finds that
Defendant's motion is not well-taken and is, therefore,
relevant background facts are set forth more fully in the
parties briefing on Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Docs.
17 and 20). On March 29, 2017, state and federal law
enforcement officers and officers from the New Mexico
Probation and Parole Division (NMPPD) searched the residence
of Defendant Johnny Lee Padilla, Jr., one of NMPPD's
probationers. The search was triggered by a number of
Defendant's reported probation violations.
learning of Defendant's probation violations, an NMPPD
officer decided to search Defendant's residence. During
the search, officers located distribution quantities of
heroin, a drug ledger, and cellular communications that the
government contends are consistent with drug trafficking. The
Indictment charges possession with intent to distribute
heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)(A)
and (b)(1)(C). The gist of Defendant's position is that
the search of his residence was unlawful because the state
and federal law enforcement officers were not acting under
the direction of an NMPPD officer. As a result, Defendant
claims he is entitled to certain discovery materials that
help establish his defense.
is “no general constitutional right to discovery in a
criminal case.” Weatherford v. Bursey, 429
U.S. 545, 559 (1977). “[T]he Brady rule, Rule
16 and the Jencks Act, exhaust the universe of discovery to
which the defendant is entitled.” United States v.
Presser, 844 F.2d 1275, 1285 (6th Cir. 1988); see
also United States v. Griebel, 312 F. App'x 93,
95-96 (10th Cir. 2008) (noting the “[G]overnment's
discovery obligations  are defined by Rule 16, Brady,
Giglio and the Jencks Act” and stating the
defendant's request to expand his discovery rights beyond
those three sources was unsupported by the law).
Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)(1) establishes guidance as
to the nature and scope of pretrial discovery that the United
States must provide. As to documents and objects, Rule
16(a)(1)(E) provides the following:
Upon a defendant's request, the government must permit
the defendant to inspect and to copy or photograph books,
papers, documents, data, photographs, tangible objects,
buildings or places, or copies or portions of any of these
items, if the item is within the government's possession,
custody, or control and:
(i) the item is material to preparing the defense;
(ii) the government intends to use the item in its
case-in-chief at trial; or (iii) the item was obtained from
or belongs to the defendant.
Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a)(1)(E).
defendant must make a prima facie showing of materiality
before he is entitled to obtain requested discovery. See
United States v. Mandel, 914 F.2d 1215, 1219 (9th Cir.
1990). “Neither a general description of the
information sought nor conclusory allegations of materiality
suffice; a defendant must present facts which would tend to
show that the Government is in possession of information
helpful to the defense.” Id. The term
“defense” means an argument in response to the
prosecution's case-in-chief, i.e., an argument
that refutes the government's claims that the defendant
committed the crime charged. See United States v.
Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456, 462 (1996). To show
materiality, the evidence must bear some abstract logical
relationship to the issues in the case such that pretrial
disclosure would enable the defendant significantly to alter
the quantum of proof in his favor. United States v.
Lloyd, 992 F.2d 348, 350-51 (D.C. Cir. 1993). This
materiality requirement is not a heavy burden; rather,
evidence is material as long as there is a strong indication
that the evidence “will play an important role in
uncovering admissible evidence, aiding witness preparation,
corroborating testimony, or assisting impeachment or
rebuttal.” Id. at 351 (internal quotations
omitted). Nevertheless, ordering the production by the
government of discovery without any preliminary showing of
materiality is inconsistent with Rule 16. Mandel,
914 F.2d at 1219.