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United States v. Mills

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

July 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWIN MILLS, et al., Defendants.

         OPINION & ORDER GRANTING IN PART, DENYING IN PART, AND RESERVING RULING IN PART ON DEFENDANT EDWIN MILLS'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY (Dkt. 552) AND DEFENDANT CARLO WILSON'S SEALED MOTION FOR DISCOVERY PURSUANT TO FEDERAL RULE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 16 (DKT. 564)

          MARK A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This criminal case involves multiple defendants, all of whom have been charged with violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (the “RICO” Act), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. Defendant Edwin Mills has filed a motion to compel discovery (Dkt. 552),[1] and Defendant Carlo Wilson has filed a sealed motion for discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 (Dkt. 564). The Government filed a single response in opposition to these motions (Dkt. 593), to which Mills and Wilson replied (Dkt. 648, 608, respectively).

         On February 12, 2019, the Court issued an order directing the parties to confer in good faith to resolve any discovery disputes raised in Defendants' motions. See 2/12/2019 Order at 4 (Dkt. 763). If the parties were unable to resolve certain issues, the Court further ordered Defendants to file a memorandum, detailing which precise discovery issue necessitated the Court's intervention. Id. at 5. After various stipulated extensions, Mills and Wilson each filed a memorandum (Dkts. 821, 865, respectively), to which the Government responded (Dkt. 921).[2]

         A hearing on Defendants' discovery motions was held on July 24, 2019. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court afforded Defendants the opportunity to file a joint statement on or before July 26, 2019, outlining each remaining discovery dispute that had not yet been resolved. The Government could then file a response to that statement on or before August 7, 2019. Defendants timely filed their joint statement (Dkt. 1005). Because several issues can be resolved at this time without the Government's response to the joint statement, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' motions, and it reserves ruling on any discovery issues raised in the joint statement but not addressed in this opinion and order.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Because the Court has previously described the factual and procedural background of this case in greater detail in other opinions, it need not do so again for purposes of the present motion. See, e.g., United States v. Mills, 378 F.Supp.3d 563 (E.D. Mich. 2019) (denying motions to dismiss); United States v. Mills, No. 16-cr-20460, 2019 WL 1915762 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 30, 2019) (denying motions for bills of particulars); United States v. Mills, 367 F.Supp.3d 664 (E.D. Mich. 2019) (granting in part and denying in part motion to preclude rap lyrics and videos).

         II. STANDARDS OF DECISION

         In contrast to the broad scope of discovery in civil cases, the discovery available to a criminal defendant is relatively constricted. For most criminal prosecutions, there are three governing rules that “‘exhaust the universe of discovery to which [a] defendant is entitled.'” United States v. Watson, 787 F.Supp.2d 667, 672 (E.D. Mich. 2011) (quoting United States v. Presser, 844 F.2d 1275, 1285 n.12 (6th Cir. 1988)).

         The first is the Brady doctrine, derived from Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1962), which requires the Government to disclose evidence that is favorable to the accused and material to guilt or sentencing, as well as evidence that could be used to impeach the credibility of a government witness. Watson, 787 F.Supp.2d at 672 & n.5.

         The second is Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a), which “requires the government to disclose, upon a defendant's request, any oral or written statements of the defendant, the defendant's prior record, any documents or tangible evidence within the government's possession, custody or control [that are material to the defense or to be used in the Government's case-in-chief], reports of examinations or tests, and a summary of any expert witness testimony.” Watson, 787 F.Supp.2d at 672 (citation and quotation marks omitted); Presser, 844 F.2d at 1285 (“[D]iscovery afforded by Rule 16 is limited to the evidence referred to in its express provisions.”).

         The third is the Jencks Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3500, which “‘generally requires the government, on motion of a defendant, to produce statements in its possession of witnesses who testify at trial.'” Watson, 787 F.Supp.2d at 672 (quoting United States v. Short, 671 F.2d 178, 185 (6th Cir. 1982)); 18 U.S.C. § 3500(b);[3] see also United States v. Davis, 306 F.3d 398, 421 (6th Cir. 2002) (“When Brady material sought by a defendant is covered by the Jencks Act . . . the terms of that Act govern the timing of the government's disclosure.”); Presser, 844 F.2d at 1282-1285 (holding that neither Brady, Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972), nor Rule 16 gives a defendant the right to broad pretrial discovery of impeachment evidence, the disclosure of which is instead controlled by the Jencks Act).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants' motions fall predominantly within the second category above, as they each make numerous requests for discovery under Rule 16. The Court addresses each motion ...


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