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United States v. Sena

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

April 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BENEDICT ANTHONY SENA, Defendants.

          John F. Moon Samore CJA ATTORNEY Attorney for Mr. Sena

          Michael D. Murphy ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY United States Attorney

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARTHA VÁZQUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Benedict Anthony Sena's Motion and Memorandum to Compel Disclosure of Evidence. Doc. 65. The government filed a Response [Doc. 70] and Mr. Sena filed a Reply [Doc. 72]. Having considered the Motion, relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed, the Court finds that the Motion is well-taken and accordingly will be GRANTED in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Mr. Sena is charged with four counts of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. sections 1153, 2241(c), and 2246(2)(C). Doc. 1. All four counts are alleged to have taken place in Indian Country between January 1, 2016 and February 15, 2016. On March 13, 2019, Mr. Sena filed the instant Motion and Memorandum to Compel Disclosure of Evidence. Doc. 65. In his Motion, he lists five categories of evidence sought:

1. Curriculum Vitae and interrogation training course history of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Agents, Clendinin and RoAnna Bennet, who conducted the April 25, 2016 interview and portions of the June 6, 2016 interview.
2. Investigative notes taken of any interviews of Mr. Sena by government agents or law enforcement officers that have not previously been provided to the Defense.
3. Any family or children neglect or abuse reports on Renae Willie and her children from 2013 to the present by Acoma Social Services, Acoma Police Department, or an equivalent source.
4. Any New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) reports on Renae Willie or her children from 2013 to the present.
5. Any government (state, BIA, federal, APD, FBI, HIS) agent's notes of interviews of persons who are or may be witnesses at hearing or at trial.

Doc. 65 at 4. In arguing that notes taken of potential government witness statements or law enforcement officers are relevant and material, Mr. Sena states that the notes may assist the parties reach a resolution by plea agreement and may serve judicial economy, citing the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 688 (1984). Id. at 4-5. He points to four cases within the Tenth Circuit in which he asserts that early production of investigative notes containing statements from government witnesses and from the accused have been ordered. Id. at 5. He also bases his argument for the production of this evidence on Brady v. Maryland, 73 U.S. 83 (1963), Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1955), and Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972). Id. at 7.

         On April 1, 2019, the government filed a Response [Doc. 70] in which it addresses each category of information sought by Mr. Sena. As to the first category, the government disputes the relevance of the Curriculum Vitae or training information for any agent involved in conducting the interviews. Id. at 1. The government states that instead, the determination of whether Mr. Sena's statements to the agents were voluntary is determined by considering: “(1) the defendant's age, intelligence, and education; (2) the length of the detention and interrogation; (3) the length and nature of the questioning; (4) whether the defendant was advised of his constitutional rights; and (5) whether the defendant was subjected to or threatened with any physical punishment.” Id. (citing United States v. Carrizales-Toledo, 454 F.3d 1142, 1153 (10th Cir. 2006)). As to the second category, the government maintains that it has already produced notes taken by FBI Special Agent Jennifer Sullivan during her interview of Mr. Sena. Id. at 2. It is not aware of other relevant notes that this time, but confirms that if additional such notes are discovered, they will be produced to the Court for in camera inspection. Id. As to the third and fourth categories, the government states that any neglect reports, abuse reports, or reports to CYFD are not within the possession or control of the government, and further argues that any reports of incidents that occurred after the charged acts are not relevant. Id. at 2-3. With respect to the final category, the government states that if any agent interview notes aside from those already disclosed are found or obtained, they will be produced for an in camera review. Id. at 3.

         On April 15, 2019, Mr. Sena filed a Reply. Doc. 72. He first maintains that any trainings, Curriculum Vitae, or employment history of the agents are relevant to the determination of whether Mr. Sena's statements or his waiver of rights were knowingly and voluntarily made. Id. at 1. He believes this review of the totality of the circumstances will show an “intellectual imbalance.” Id. He further argues that it is reasonable for the government to submit for in camera inspection all “investigative notes” from interrogations of Mr. Sena as well as of government witnesses because the government “had a substantial and prejudicial headstart on the Defense in witness interaction and developing relationships.” Id. at 2. He also argues that reports by Acoma Social Services, Acoma Police ...


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