United States District Court, D. New Mexico
R Lavin, Federal Public Defender, Attorney for Mr.
Y. Ramirez, Assistant United States Attorney, United States
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VAZQUEZ, UNITED VÁ ES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Luis
Chacon-Manriquez' Motion to Compel Discovery Pursuant to
F.R.C.P. Rule 16. Doc. 22. The government timely filed a
Response [Doc. 23] and submitted a Notice of Supplemental
Authority [Doc. 30]. Mr. Chacon-Manriquez filed a Reply. Doc.
27. Having considered the motion, relevant law, and being
otherwise fully informed, the Court finds that the motion is
not well-taken and accordingly will be
Chacon-Manriquez is charged with distribution of five hundred
grams and more of a mixture and substance containing a
detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 18
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A). The charge
arises from the sale of methamphetamine occurring on or about
May 9, 2018. Doc. 2.
February 4, 2019, Mr. Chacon-Manriquez filed the instant
Motion to Compel Discovery Pursuant to F.R.C.P. Rule 16. Doc.
22. Mr. Chacon-Manriquez has requested discovery related to
an uncharged April 19, 2018 sale of methamphetamine, but his
request was denied. Id. at ¶ 10. Mr.
Chacon-Manriquez believes he is “entitled to any
photos, surveillance footage, recorded statements and
conversations, reports, examinations, and any other tangible
evidence in [the] possession and control of the
government” as it relates to the April 19, 2018
transaction. Id. at ¶ 9. In his Motion to
Compel, he contends that he is entitled to this discovery
because it is relevant and “material to preparing the
defense.” Id. at ¶¶ 14, 17. He
contends that the first transaction involves the same
undercover agent, same confidential source, and occurred at
the same location as the second, charged conduct, and the
discovery will thus help defense “assess the
credibility of the witnesses and the strength of the
evidence.” Id. at ¶¶ 8, 19.
February 8, 2019, the government filed a timely Response in
Opposition to Mr. Chacon-Manriquez' motion. Doc. 23. It
supplemented its filing on March 4, 2019 with a Notice of
Supplemental Authority. Doc. 30. The government contends that
Mr. Chacon-Manriquez has not revealed how the additional
discovery regarding his involvement in the uncharged conduct
is material or how it could be utilized to rebut the
government's case-in-chief. Doc. 23 at 4. Further, it
states, Mr. Chacon-Manriquez “does not allege or
demonstrate that pretrial disclosure . . . would enable the
Defendant significantly to alter the quantum of proof in his
favor.” Id. Regarding the use of this
information for purposes of sentencing, the government
stipulates that the April 19, 2018 transaction should not be
considered as relevant conduct, but reserves the right to
reconsider its position. Id. at 4-5. The government
states, should it change its position, it will promptly
produce the relevant materials. Id. at 5.
Chacon-Manriquez submitted his Reply on February 26, 2019.
Doc. 27. He states that his request is specific and he is not
making a “request for blanket authorization to see the
prosecution's file.” Doc. 27 at 1-2. Mr.
Chacon-Manriquez argues that the request may be material even
where it is not used in the government's case-in-chief.
Id. at 2 (citing United States v. Stevens,
985 F.2d 1175, 1180 (2d Cir. 1993)). He states that the
“requested discovery will shed light on Mr. Chacon
Manriquez's prior dealing with the undercover agent in
this case, and . . . play an important role in
‘assisting impeachment or rebuttal,' and / or
counter the government's case or bolster a
defense.” Id. at 2-3.
is no general constitutional right to discovery in a criminal
case. See Weatherford v. Bursey, 429 U.S. 545, 559
(1977). The government, however, must make the disclosures
required by due process under Brady v. Maryland, 373
U.S. 83 (1963), and by the Federal Rules of Criminal
Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 provides in pertinent part that
“[u]pon defendant's request, the government must
permit the defendant to inspect and to copy” documents
“within the government's possession, custody, or
control” if “(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). However, a defendant is presumptively
not entitled to “the discovery or inspection of
reports, memoranda, or other internal government documents
made by an attorney for the government or other government
agent in connection with investigating or prosecuting the
case” or material covered by the Jencks Act. Fed. R.
Crim. P. 16(a)(2). See also 18 U.S.C. § 3500.
Supreme Court has explained that, in the context of Rule 16,
evidence “material to preparing the defense”
refers specifically to arguments that respond “to the
Government's case in chief” rather than simply any
argument that might ultimately prevent a conviction.
United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456, 462
(1996). See also United States v. Lujan, 530
F.Supp.2d 1224, 1234 (D.N.M. 2008) (“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.”). Given this definition
of materiality, nothing in Rule 16 or Armstrong
conflicts with the government's obligation under
Brady and its progeny. See, e.g., Smith
v. Cain, 132 S.Ct. 627, 630 (2012) (“Under
Brady, the State violates a defendant's right to
due process if it withholds evidence that is favorable to the
defense and material to the defendant's guilt or
punishment.”). For purposes of Rule 16(a)(1)(E)(i),
materiality “means more than that the evidence in
question bears some abstract logical relationship to the
issues in the case.” See United States v.
Burger, 773 F.Supp. 1419, ...