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United States v. Richardson

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 18, 2014

UNITED STATES,
v.
DONALD RICHARDSON

ORDER AND REASONS

SARAH S. VANCE, District Judge.

Before the Court are the government's motions to strike three of defendant's subpoenas duces tecum directed to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office. For the following reasons, the government's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. Factual Background

Defendant is charged with two counts of distributing cocaine base ("crack") in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). The charges arise from two controlled sales of crack that defendant allegedly made on March 17, 2011 and March 23, 2011 to Alton Celestine, a confidential informant working with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office.

The government moves the Court to quash three of the defendant's subpoenas directed at the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office. The first subpoena seeks the "entire Criminal Informant (CI) file on the following person: Alton Celestine... This file should contain the following: 1. Information regarding monetary or judicial benefits, or any and all recommendations for benefits received by Alton Celestine in exchange for his cooperation with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office; 2. The names of all cases for which Alton Celestine provided information to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office; 3. the names of all law enforcement who worked with Alton Celestine as a CI; and 4. A Training or Operations Manual that the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office uses to guide their policies and procedures regarding working with CIs."[1] The second subpoena requests a "police report associated with the arrest of any and all defendants with the last name Harris that were arrested between the dates of January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012 by either Narcotics Agent Joe Renfro or Russell Madere."[2] The final subpoena requests three police reports and accompanying crime lab results relating to the November 3, 2011 arrest of Christine Harris.[3] Defendant argues that the government lacks standing to challenge the subpoenas and that, even if the government does have standing, the subpoenas are nevertheless proper under Fed. R. Crim. P. 17.

At the request of the parties, the Court conducted an in camera review of the subpoenaed documents.

III. Discussion

A. Rule 17 Subpoenas

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17 governs the use and issuance of subpoenas in criminal cases. The Rule provides in pertinent part:

(c) Producing Documents and Objects.
(1) In General. A subpoena may order the witness to produce any books, papers, documents, data, or other objects the subpoena designates. The court may direct the witness to produce the designated items in court before trial or before they are to be offered in evidence. When the items arrive, the court may permit the parties and their attorneys to inspect all or part of them.

Fed. R. Crim. P. 17.

Rule 17(c) was implemented to "expedite the trial by providing a time and place before the trial for the inspection of the subpoenaed materials." Bowman Dairy Co. v. United States, 341 U.S. 214, 220 (1951). Rule 17(c) was designed as a time-saving mechanism, and was "not intended to provide an additional means of discovery." Id. Accordingly, the burden is on the movant to demonstrate: (1) that the requested documents are evidentiary and relevant; (2) that they are not otherwise procurable reasonably in advance of trial by the exercise of due diligence; (3) that the party cannot properly prepare for trial without such production and inspection in advance of trial and that the failure to obtain such inspection may tend unreasonably to delay the trial; and (4) that the application is made in good faith and is not intended as a general "fishing expedition." United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 699-700 (1974); see also United States v. Arditti, 955 F.2d 331, 345 (5th Cir. 1992)(finding that a Rule 17(c) subpoena can be authorized ...


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