Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Patrick

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

March 17, 2017



          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.


         On May 25, 2016 the Grand Jury issued an indictment charging Defendant Jeffrey W. Patrick, Chief Engineer of the Uninspected Towing Vessel Victory (“UTV Victory”), with one count of discharging oil into Lake Huron in a quantity that caused a film or sheen upon the water from on or about May, 2014 to June 30, 2014 in violation of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. §§ 1321(b)(3) and 1319(c)(2)(A). See ECF No. 11. On June 22, 2016 a superseding indictment issued adding a charge against Assistant Engineer William J. Harrigan for violating §§ 1321(b)(3) and 1319(c)(2)(A), and charging both Defendants with conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. See ECF No. 14. The Government alleges that Defendants took a number of overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, including the installation of a removable by-pass system in the engine room of the UTV Victory, which members of the conspiracy then allegedly used to discharge water contaminated with oil into Lake Huron and other parts of the Great Lakes. Id. The Government further alleges that members of the conspiracy took steps in order to avoid detection, including discharging the contaminated water at night, failing to notify the National Response Center of the discharge, and later removing and concealing the by-pass system.

         On October 11, 2016 Defendant Harrigan filed two motions to exclude evidence, and Defendant Patrick filed six motions to exclude and suppress evidence, a motion to compel discovery, and a motion to join in the relief requested by Defendant Harrigan. See ECF Nos. 35-44. The motions were provisionally resolved by an order dated November 9, 2016. See ECF No. 62. Following a final pretrial conference held on January 11, 2017, Defendants filed three motions to compel discovery and the Government filed a motion for reciprocal discovery. To the extent Defendants seek grand jury transcripts their motions will be denied. Defendants' motion to depose a witness will also be denied. The remainder of the relief sought by the parties will be addressed at the hearing to be held on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.


         In contrast to the broad scope of discovery in civil cases, the discovery available to a criminal defendant is relatively constricted, and is generally circumscribed by three rules: (1) Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16; (2) The Jencks Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3500; and (3) the doctrine set forth in Brady. See United States v. Presser, 844 F.2d 1275, 1285, fn. 12 (6th Cir.1988) (stating that in most criminal prosecutions, these three rules “exhaust the universe of discovery to which the defendant is entitled”).

         Rule 16 requires that the Government disclose discovery materials related to the defendant upon the defendant's request. Specifically, the Government must disclose oral, written, or recorded statements made by the defendant, the defendant's prior record, certain photographs, papers, documents, data, or places within the government's possession or control, examination and test results, and expert witnesses. See Rule 16(a)(1). Rule 16 does not authorize the discovery of internal government documents or any statements made by prospective government witnesses in addition to discovery required by the Jenck's Act. Rule 16 also does not require pretrial discovery of co-conspirators statements. See United States v. Presser, 844 F.2d 1275, 1281 (6th Cir. 1988) (citing United States v. Roberts, 811 F.2d 257, 258-59 (4th Cir. 1987); United States v. Boykins, 1990 WL 143559, at *7 (6th Cir. Oct. 2, 1990) (holding “co-conspirator statements do not fall within the ambit of Rule 16(a)(1)(A)” as a Defendant's statement and were therefore not discoverable pretrial).

         Under the Jenck's Act, upon motion of the Defendant the government must produce “statements in its possession of witnesses who testify at trial.” United States v. Short, 671 F.2d 178, 185 (6th Cir.1982). The Government need not provide statements or reports of witnesses until the witness “has testified on direct examination in the trial of the case.” 18 U.S.C. § 3500(a). The Sixth Circuit has held that the Jencks Act controls the timing of Brady disclosures. See United States v. Bencs, 28 F.3d 555, 560-61 (6th Cir. 1994).

         Under Brady, the government violates due process when it fails to disclose evidence related to guilt or sentencing in a criminal case that is favorable to the defendant. Brady, 373 U.S. at 87. The Brady rule extends to material that could be used to impeach the credibility of a government witness. Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 154-55, (1972) (impeachment evidence falls within Brady “[w]hen the reliability of a given witness may well be determinative of guilt or innocence”). However, as explained by the Supreme Court, “[t]here is no general constitutional right to discovery in a criminal case, and Brady did not create one….” Weatherford v. Bursey, 429 U.S. 545, 559 (1977). Instead, Brady only applies to “the discovery, after trial[, ] of information which had been known to the prosecution but unknown to the defense.” United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 103 (1976). During the course of the proceedings, “the government typically is the sole judge of what evidence in its possession is subject to disclosure. If it fails to comply adequately with a discovery order requiring it to disclose Brady material, it acts at its own peril.” United States v. Presser, 844 F.2d 1275, 1281 (6th Cir. 1988).


         In each of their motions for discovery, Defendants first seek to compel the production of grand jury transcripts and statements. Defendants argue that they requires the grand jury transcripts under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)(3)(E)(ii), which allows the court to order disclosure of grand jury testimony “at the request of a defendant who shows that a ground may exist to dismiss the indictment because of a matter that occurred before the grand jury.” Id. A party seeking disclosure under this rule must demonstrate a “‘particularized need' rather than a general one.” United States v. Short, 671 F.2d 178, 186 (6th Cir. 1982) (quoting United States v. Procter & Gamble Co., 356 U.S. 677, 681 (1958)); see also Douglas Oil Co. v. Petrol Stops NW, 441 U.S. 221, 222 (1979). To meet that standard, parties must establish that the “material they seek is needed to avoid a possible injustice in another judicial proceeding, that the need for disclosure is greater than the need for continued secrecy, and that their request is structured to cover only material so needed.” Douglas Oil Co., 441 U.S. at 222. The “indispensable secrecy of grand jury proceedings must not be broken except where there is a compelling necessity.” Gamble, 356 U.S. at 682 (internal citation omitted). Cases allowing transcript release generally include those where a transcript is needed to “test a witness's credibility, impeach a witness, or refresh a witness's recollection.” Id. at 683.

         In support of his request for transcript disclosures, Patrick speculates that several Grand Jury witnesses contradicted the Government's theory of the case, and asserts that he needs the transcripts in order to identify witnesses whose testimony may be exculpatory. A similar request by Defendant was already denied by this Court as follows:

Defendant now requests exculpatory and/or impeaching evidence relating to all Government witnesses. Defendant Patrick's general request for pretrial disclosure material as to all potential government witnesses is an insufficiently particularized request to justify departing from the Jencks Act. As explained by the Sixth Circuit:

[P]roviding the defense with such a broad right of pre-trial discovery would vitiate an important function of the Jencks Act, the protection of potential government witnesses from threats of harm or other intimidation before the witnesses testify at trial. See, e.g., Roberts, 811 F.2d at 259. Clearly, the need to protect witnesses exists whether the witnesses are part of the government's case-in-chief or part of its potential evidence to rebut a possible defense. Accordingly, we conclude that the government cannot be compelled to disclose impeachment material which would be covered by the Jencks Act relating to any potential government witness, whether it be a witness in the case-in-chief or a rebuttal witness. Further, the government need not disclose impeaching material in its possession relating to any potential defense witness where that impeaching material does not meet the Brady test of being material and exculpatory. United States v. Presser, 844 F.2d 1275 (6th Cir. 1988).

The Government has already provided Defendant Patrick with broad discovery in this case, including grand jury transcripts and witness affidavits. Defendant Patrick's ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.