United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
T. NEFF United States District Judge.
before the Court is Defendant Jamie Pina's Motion for New
Trial (ECF No. 160). The Government has filed a Response in
opposition (ECF No. 203), and Defendant has filed a Reply
(ECF No. 210). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's
Motion is denied.
was charged in an eight-count indictment with conspiracy to
distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine
(Count 1), and possession with intent to distribute cocaine
(Count 7), following the November 9, 2016 search of Benito
Escamilla's home in Ravenna Township by the Michigan
State Police West Michigan Enforcement Team (WEMET). Inside
the residence were Defendant and his brother, Angel Pina.
Police seized approximately 28 grams of cocaine found in
Defendant's pocket, along with his cell phone, and $540
(see ECF No. 203 at PageID. 1481 and record
citations). Defendant was read his Miranda rights and made a
number of incriminating statements to the police on site,
admitting that he knew the substance in his pocket was
cocaine, although he stated that he was not a user of cocaine
and his brother Angel were arrested during the search.
Defendant was held in state custody on state charges until he
made bail. The day after the search, on November 10, 2016,
Defendant made additional statements to detectives, again
admitting he knew the substance in his pocket was cocaine,
but stating that it was for personal use (see ECF
No. 203 at PageID. 1481 and record citations). On November
14, 2016, Defendant was arraigned on a state charge of
possession with intent to deliver 50 grams or more but less
than 450 grams of cocaine (id. at PageID. 1482 and
November 16, 2016, while still in state custody, Defendant
made statements to police after alleged advisement from his
former state defense attorney, Edward Anderson, who had been
hired by Defendant's family to represent/speak with
Defendant and his brother Angel, who was also in state
custody. Defendant stated, among other things, that during
the summer of 2016, he supplied cocaine to an individual in
Walkerville, Michigan, with the last name of Rodriguez, who
drove a red truck and that he "middle-manned" deals
for his relative, Benito Escamilla (see ECF No. 203
at PageID. 1482 and record citations). Defendant told police
that Rodriguez and Escamilla did not have a good
relationship, so he worked as a go-between, and he supplied
cocaine to Rodriguez every four or five days from May 2016
through August 2016 (id). The following day, the
state charged Defendant with conspiring with Benito
Escamilla, Angel Pina, and others to deliver 50 grams or more
but less than 450 grams of cocaine (id.).
was thereafter charged in this case, and his current counsel
was appointed. Co-defendants Magdaleno Rodriguez and Angel
Pina were likewise charged in this case, and both entered
guilty pleas. Co-defendant Rodriguez cooperated with law
enforcement and testified against Defendant. Following a
three-day jury trial on May 8 through May 10, 2017, Defendant
was convicted of both counts charged (Counts 1 and 7) (ECF
No. 153, Verdict Form, PageID.646).
to trial, Defendant moved to exclude evidence obtained in his
November 16, 2016 statements to police, on the grounds that
the statements were the result of ineffective assistance of
counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment. Defendant argued
that Attorney Anderson provided ineffective assistance of
counsel by: (1) suggesting and encouraging Defendant to make
incriminating statements to police without a proffer
agreement and without sufficient information about the case;
and (2) arguably representing the conflicting interests of
both Pina brothers as co-defendants, or at least having
confidential information regarding each (ECF No. 54 at
PageID. 119). The Court denied the motion without prejudice
because the claim was premature, i.e., Defendant had not yet
suffered any actual prejudice as a result of the potential
constitutional violation stemming from Defendant's
statements to state authorities while he was in state custody
Anderson was called to testify at Defendant's trial.
Defendant now asserts that Anderson's testimony was
sufficient to confirm the underlying factual premise of
Defendant's original motion to exclude his November 16,
2016 statements. In his motion for new trial, Defendant again
argues that his right to the effective assistance of counsel
was violated when Attorney Anderson advised Defendant, and
permitted him, to make statements to law enforcement officers
on November 16, 2016, despite Attorney Anderson's ethical
conflict. Defendant moves for a new trial, in which the
statements he made to police on November 16, 2016, and
anything else resulting therefrom, are excluded from use by
the Government because the evidence was obtained in violation
of Defendant's Sixth Amendment rights.
Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(a) provides in relevant part:
(a) Defendant's Motion. Upon the
defendant's motion, the court may vacate any judgment and
grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires. If
the case was tried without a jury, the court may take
additional testimony and enter a new judgment.
motion for a new trial can be premised on the argument that
the 'verdict was against the manifest weight of the
evidence, ' and it can be premised on the argument
that' substantial legal error has occurred.'"
United States v. Callahan, 801 F.3d 606, 616(6thCir.
2015) (quoting United States v. Munoz, 605 F.3d 359,
373 (6th Cir. 2010) ("[I]t is widely agreed that Rule
33's 'interest of justice' standard allows the
grant of a new trial where substantial legal error has
occurred."). A violation of the Sixth Amendment right to
effective assistance meets the "substantial legal
error" standard. Munoz, 605 F.3d at 373-74.
deciding such a motion, the Court applies the
well-established standards for ineffective as si stance under
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668(1984). To
establish ineffective assistance, a defendant must show (1)
"that counsel's representation fell below an
objective standard of reasonableness" and (2) that
"counsel's performance [was] prejudicial to the
defense...." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688, 692;
Munoz, 605 F.3d at 376. "Counsel's
performance violates the Sixth Amendment only where '
counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of
the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as
having produced a just result.'" Munoz, 605
F.3d at 376 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 686).
decision to grant or deny a motion for new trial rests within
the district court's sound discretion." United
States v. Seago,930 F.2d 482, 488 (6th Cir. ...