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United States v. Milia

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 7, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DOMINICK MILIA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JUDITH C. HERRERA SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Opposed Motion to Compel the Production of Discovery Including the Identification of Confidential Informants (ECF No. 37). After carefully considering the motion, briefs, and being otherwise fully-informed, the Court concludes that the motion should be denied.

         I. Background

         In May 2018, Defendant allegedly absconded from state probation, so a state judge signed an arrest warrant. Investigator Banks and a team of three or four other officers went to search for Defendant to arrest him. A confidential informant told two of Banks' investigators that Defendant was residing in a motel in Albuquerque and gave investigators the motel name and room number. When officers went to the motel room, a man coincidentally opened the door and left. As he did so, Banks, standing outside of the motel room, spotted Defendant through the open door. Officers entered the motel room and took Defendant into custody. They found a gun on him, leading to a single-count indictment against Defendant for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).

         Defendant tells the Court that he requires certain discovery in preparation of a motion to suppress evidence that he intends to file. In his forthcoming motion, Defendant will argue that Banks and his team were New Mexico Correctional Department (NMCD) officers who lacked authority to arrest him, and that he is entitled to discover “the facts surrounding the arrest and investigation” by officers, including the specific information that the confidential informant gave to officers. ECF No. 37 at 4. Defendant believes that the informant played a significant role in the investigation, and therefore he seeks to discover the informant's identity under Roviaro v. United States, 353 U.S. 53, 77 (1957).

         In response, the Government refers to Banks and his team as “probation and parole officers, ” but does not address Defendant's specific argument that they lacked authority to arrest him. ECF No. 45 at 1. As for Defendant's discovery arguments, the Government says that it has already given Defendant discovery and that it has nothing else to give. The Government lastly argues that Defendant is not entitled to learn the informant's identity because the informant's role was so minor that the Government does not even plan to call him/her at trial.

         II. Defendant's Request for “General Discovery”

         Subpart 16(a)(1)(E) Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 sets forth the types of the information the government must disclose to the defendant upon his request:

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).

         A defendant must make a prima facie showing of materiality before he is entitled to obtain requested discovery. See United States v. Simpson, 845 F.3d 1039, 1056 (10th Cir. 2017). “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.” United States v. Lucas, 841 F.3d 796, 804 (9th Cir. 2016). To be material, it is not enough that the evidence sought “bears some abstract, logical relationship to the issues in the case … [r]ather a showing of materiality requires some indication that pretrial ...


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