United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE [ECF
Nos. 1367, 1369, 1370, 1376]
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on four motions in limine filed by
defendant James Robinson. The court heard oral argument on
the motions on April 18, 2019.
Motion to Strike Surplusage and Prejudicial Information
moves to strike non-essential allegations and counts from the
Indictment before it is read to the jury, arguing they are
not relevant and are prejudicial. Specifically, defendant
seeks to strike the paragraphs and counts that pertain to
co-defendants and do not name him.
government states that it will not ask the court to read the
indictment to the jury. Because the jury will not hear the
precise charging language of those counts in which Robinson
is not named, or the death penalty special findings,
defendant's motion to strike surplusage is moot.
motion in limine to strike surplusage is DENIED as moot.
Motion to Preclude Recalling Agent Ruiz
Robinson previously joined in a motion filed by co-defendant
Corey Bailey to preclude Special Agent Ruiz from being
recalled as a witness. (Doc. 959, 964) The court denied the
motion and permitted Ruiz to testify multiple times in the
second trial of co-defendants held June to August 2018. (Doc.
1018) Robinson's counsel agrees that his client is bound
by the ruling but brings this motion to preclude Ruiz from
narrating the case. In the new motion, defendant argues the
same grounds previously considered and rejected by the court.
argues the repeated appearance of Ruiz bolsters his
credibility with the jury and enhances his status. Defendant
cites to Judge Hood's opinion in United States v.
Hamilton, No. 16-20062, where the court was not
“persuaded that granting the Government the right to
recall witnesses to give testimony episodically or via
installments is warranted or appropriate in the instant
case.” Judge Hood held that the jurors could take notes
to recall the witness's testimony; that there was a
danger that a witness who frequents the witness stand will
become unfairly credible, reliable, or familiar; and that it
was a needless waste of time.
court finds that having Special Agent Ruiz testify multiple
times aids the jury by allowing the government to present
evidence in an orderly manner. This RICO conspiracy case
spans more than a decade and involves dozens of events. The
court's prior experience in the trials of co-defendants
demonstrates that the government's evidence was not
unreasonably redundant or wasteful. Rather, allowing the
government to recall the case agent at different times
throughout the prior two trials proved to be an efficient way
to present evidence to the jury in a manner that provided
context for various incidents and in a format that the jurors
could more easily understand.
motion in limine to preclude recalling Agent Ruiz throughout
trial is DENIED.
Motion to Preclude Evidence Regarding a Raid on Manning St.
moves to preclude any evidence relative to the search warrant
executed at 14781 and 14791 Manning Street on May 31, 2006
(Overt Act 98). At oral argument defense counsel amended his
motion to also include all evidence relative to the search of
14791 Manning on December 4, 2006, at which search defendant
was not present (Overt Act 96). According to defendant, with
regard to the May 31 search, no one was arrested or charged
with any criminal conduct. Defendant contends that he was
merely present at the scene when the raid was executed and he
received a ticket for loitering. No laboratory reports for
any alleged controlled substances seized have been produced.
Therefore, defendant argues the evidence seized, as well as
the search warrant and raid, are irrelevant and prejudicial
to his right to a fair trial.
government explains that the circumstances of the May 31,
2006 “raid”, including who was present and what
was recovered, are relevant evidence in this trial. The fact
that Robinson was found at a house on Manning Street, in the
Red Zone, with two charged co-defendants and others, with
suspected drugs, is relevant evidence bearing on all five
elements of the charged RICO conspiracy: (1) the existence of
the SMB enterprise, (2) Robinson's association with the
SMB enterprise, (3) his agreement to participate in the
conduct of the affairs of the enterprise, (4) his agreement
that he or a conspirator would participate in at least two
acts of ...