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United States v. Rael

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 7, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSE RAEL, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS INDICTMENT (Doc. 27)

          WILLIAM P. JOHNSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Indictment. [Doc. 27, filed April 5, 2019]. Having reviewed the parties' briefs and applicable law, the Court determines that a hearing is not necessary and denies Defendant's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant called the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) to complain that police, including federal police agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), were illegally surveilling him, illegally tapping his phone, and that he could not go anywhere without law enforcement following him around. [Doc. 27 at 1-2; Doc. 28 at 1-2]. Defendant claimed that he had more guns than the FBI, that he viewed the police as his enemy because of their illegal surveillance, and that he would shoot anyone who came at him as an enemy, which included DEA agents. [Doc. 27 at 1-2; Doc. 28 at 1-2]. Defendant did not name any specific DEA agent or any specific federal law enforcement officer. [Doc. 27 at 1-2; Doc. 28 at 1-2].

         On January 9, 2019, Defendant Jose Rael was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint alleging a single charge of making a threat via interstate communications contrary to 18 U.S.C. Section 875(c). On January 29, 2019 Defendant was charged by indictment with an additional count of threatening a United States official contrary to 18 U.S.C. Section 115(a)(1)(B). Through the present motion, Defendant challenges Count I of the indictment.

The challenged count states:
On or about January 5, 2019, in Santa Fe, County and elsewhere, in the District of New Mexico, the defendant, JOSE RAEL, knowingly and willfully did threaten to assault and murder a United States official, whose killing would be a crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1114, with intent to impede, intimidate, and interfere with such official, and with intent to retaliate against such official on account of the performance of official duties. In violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(B).

[Doc. 13].

         STANDARD

         “Generally, the strength or weakness of the government's case, or the sufficiency of the government's evidence to support a charge, may not be challenged by a pretrial motion.” United States v. Hall, 20 F.3d 1084, 1087 (10th Cir. 1994). When testing an indictment's sufficiency before trial, an indictment's allegations are taken as true, and courts should not consider evidence outside of the indictment. See Id. The basic constitutional standard by which to judge the sufficiency of an indictment is mandated by the Sixth Amendment which requires that the indictment inform the defendant of “the nature and cause of the accusation.” U.S. Const., Amend. VI. This standard is expressed by Fed.R.Crim.P. 7(c)(1), which states, in part, that the indictment “shall be a plain, concise and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged.”

         “An indictment is deemed constitutionally sufficient if it (1) contains the essential elements of the offense intended to be charged, (2) sufficiently apprises the accused of what he must be prepared to defend against, and (3) enables the accused to plead an acquittal or conviction under the indictment as a bar to any subsequent prosecution for the same offense.” Id. (citing Russell v. United States, 369 U.S. 749, 763-64 (1962)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Whether the indictment (1) contains essential elements of the offense; (2) sufficiently apprises the accused of what he must be prepared to defend against and (3) enables the accused to plead an acquittal or conviction under the indictment as a bar to any subsequent prosecution for the same offense.

         The Court will address the Russell prongs in the order addressed by Defendant in his motion. Defendant first argues the second prong. Defendant argues that the indictment does not provide sufficient notice of Count I of the indictment to prepare a legal or factual defense to the charge. Defendant argues that because no specific victim has been named in the indictment, he cannot raise the legal question of whether the particular alleged victim's position falls within the definition of 18 U.S.C. ยง 115(a)(1)(B), and as to the preparation of his factual defense, Defendant claims that ...


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