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United States v. Coronado

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

January 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
OSCAR MORENO CORONADO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the following motions filed by Defendant Oscar Moreno Coronado: (i) Defendant's Motion for Information pursuant to Giglio v. United States regarding Government Witness (ECF No. 108); (ii) Defendant's Motion for Production of Material pursuant to Brady v. Maryland and Early Jencks Act Material (ECF No. 113); (iii) Defendant's Motion in Limine #2 to Exclude Evidence of Effects of Drugs on Society (ECF No. 114); (iv) Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Opinion Testimony by Government Witnesses on Ultimate Legal Issue (ECF No. 116); and (v) Defendant's Motion to Exclude Proposed Expert Testimony and/or in the Alternative for Daubert Hearings (ECF No. 134). The Court, having considered the motions, briefs, record, applicable law, and otherwise being fully advised, rules as described herein.

         I. Defendant's Motion for Information pursuant to Giglio v. United States regarding Government Witness (ECF No. 108)

         Defendant seeks Giglio information concerning the Government's anticipated witness, Joshua Talamantes. Impeachment evidence falls under Brady when the reliability of a given witness may be determinative of a defendant's guilt or innocence. Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 154 (1972). Brady obligates the prosecution to disclose “evidence affecting credibility.” Id. The United States, however, stated that it “does not plan to call Joshua Talamantes in its casein-chief.” Gov.'s Resp., ECF No. 120. Defendant's motion for Giglio information regarding Talamantes will therefore be denied as moot.

         II. Defendant's Motion for Production of Material pursuant to Brady v. Maryland and Early Jencks Act Material (ECF No. 113)

         Defendant moves for early disclosure of materials covered by the Jencks Act to expedite the proceedings and avoid recesses and continuances during trial. Defendant acknowledges, however, that “it is arguable that the plain language of the Jencks Act prevents the Court from ordering disclosure of a government witness's statements before that witness testifies on direct examination.” Def.'s Mot. 2, ECF No. 113. Defendant also asks for early disclosure of Brady and Giglio material, particularly promises of leniency offered for testimony.

         The Government asserts that there is no authority requiring the early production of Jencks Act statements, but nevertheless states it has already disclosed “several items that constitute Jencks Act material, to include the Grand Jury testimony and case notes of William Baker.” Gov.'s Resp. 2, ECF No. 122. The Government acknowledges its duties under Brady and Giglio but asserts that Defendant failed to request specific evidence and describe its materiality to compel production generally.

         The Supreme Court held in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963), “that the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.” To establish a Brady violation, the accused must show that (1) the prosecution suppressed evidence; (2) the evidence was favorable to the accused; and (3) the evidence was material to the defense. See Trammell v. McKune, 485 F.3d 546, 551 (10th Cir. 2007). A defendant must make a prima facie showing of materiality before he is entitled to obtain requested discovery. 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 Jencks Act requires the government to disclose to criminal defendants any statement made by a government witness that is in the possession of the Government after that witness has testified. See 18 U.S.C. § 3500(a) & (b). As Defendant essentially admits, the Court cannot compel the production of Jencks Act statements prior to trial, so the Court must deny Defendant's request for early disclosure. Additionally, Defendant has not met his prima facie burden of showing the materiality of specific evidence to compel disclosure under Brady. Accordingly, the Court will deny this motion. The Court, however, encourages the United States to avoid trial delays and continuances that may occur from last-minute disclosures.

         III. Defendant's Motion in Limine #2 to Exclude Evidence of Effects of Drugs on Society (ECF No. 114)

         Defendant requests an order excluding the introduction of evidence regarding the negative and harmful effects of drugs on society. The Government responds that it “does not anticipate eliciting testimony or presenting evidence about the broadly stated ‘harmful effects of drugs on society.'” Gov.'s Resp., ECF No. 123. The Court will therefore deny Defendant's Motion in Limine #2 on grounds of mootness.

         IV. Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Opinion Testimony by Government Witnesses on Ultimate Legal Issue (ECF No. 116) and Defendant's Motion to Exclude Proposed Expert Testimony and/or in the Alternative for Daubert Hearings (ECF No. 134)

         Defendant moves to preclude the Government from introducing opinion testimony on the ultimate legal issue of knowing distribution, particularly testimony that, based on the agent's training and experience, the nature of the meeting between Talamantes and Moreno was consistent with a meeting of a source of supply giving methamphetamine to a drug seller. Defendant argues this testimony constitutes an opinion on the ultimate legal issue of whether Defendant distributed methamphetamine.

         The Government argues that courts have long allowed experts to testify concerning practices of the drug trade and that the testimony at issue is proper, because it merely provides an opinion from which the jury could conclude or infer that Defendant had the requisite mental state. The United States, however, did not state exactly what the anticipated expert testimony would be on the subject.

         Defendant filed a reply, raising for the first time issues of proper notice of proposed expert testimony under Rule 16(a)(1)(G) and Daubert issues. Defendant subsequently filed a separate motion to exclude and/or limit the expert testimony of Federal Drug Enforcement Administration Agent William Baker and Homeland Security Agent Joe Harrison. See Def.'s Mot. to Exclude, ECF No. 134. Defendant argues that the notice the Government provided was merely a brief summary and did not provide the basis for the opinions they ...


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