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United States v. Miller

United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana

March 24, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOE LEE MILLER

SECTION: “J” (4)

ORDER

KAREN WELLS ROBY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

Before the Court is Defendant, Joe Lee Miller’s Motion for Bill of Particulars (R. Doc. 49). The motion is opposed (R. Doc. 55) and was considered on the briefs on March 11, 2015. See R. Doc. 61.

I. Background

The Defendant is charged with seven (7) counts in an eleven (11) count indictment for violating the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951, which prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce. See R. Doc. 5. The Defendant is charged with knowingly conspiring with six (6) co-defendants to take and obtain personal property consisting of illegal drugs and proceeds from drug trafficking, by means of actual and threatened force, violence and fear of injury. Id. The Defendant is also charged with violating 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A) for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1).

The indictment alleges that the Defendant engaged in two robberies on April 23, 2014 and May 22, 2014 in the Eastern District of Louisiana. According to the indictment, on April 23, 2014 the Defendant and two (2) co-defendants allegedly broke into the apartment of “Individual A, ” laid in wait and then confronted “Individual A” with firearms and unlawfully took $90, 000 in cash, heroin, and other valuable property. Id. at 3. Similarly, on May 22, 2014 the Defendant and three (3) co-defendants allegedly broke into the apartment of “Individual B, ” laid in wait and then confronted “Individual B” with firearms and unlawfully took $1, 000 in cash, an automobile, and other valuable property. Id. at 7. Allegedly, the Defendants committed attempted kidnapping and attempted murder by shooting “Individual B” eight (8) times while he was trying to escape from the kidnapping. Id.

The Defendant filed the instant motion seeking a bill of particulars specifying the particulars of (1) the overt act alleged to be in furtherance of the conspiracy, and (2) the location and victims of the alleged substantive counts. The trial is set in this matter for June 1, 2015. See R. Doc. 64.

II. Standard of Review

Rule 7(f) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that “[t]he court may direct the government to file a bill of particulars” and that the “defendant may move for a bill of particulars before or within 14 days after arraignment or at a later time if the court permits.” The granting of the bill of particulars is in the sound discretion of the trial court. United States v. Harbin, 601 F.2d 773, 778 (5th Cir. 1979). Further, the purpose of a bill of particulars is

[T]o inform the defendant of the nature of the charge against him with sufficient precision to enable him to prepare his defense, to avoid or minimize the danger of surprise at trial, and to facilitate a plea of double jeopardy in the event of subsequent prosecution for the same offense Id. (citing United States v. Mackey, 551 F.2d 967, 970 (5th Cir. 1977) and United States v.

Martinez, 466 F.2d 679 (5th Cir. 1972)).

An indictment will be deemed sufficient if it (1) contains the elements of the charged offense; (2) fairly informs the defendant of the charges against him; and (3) ensures that there is no risk of future prosecutions for the same offense.” United States v. Harms, 442 F.3d 367, 372 (5th Cir. 2006) (quoting United States v. Sims. Bros. Constr., Inc., 277 F.3d 734, 741 (5th Cir. 2001)). While “the defendant is entitled to a plain concise statement of the essential facts constituting the offenses charged, the indictment need not provide him with the evidentiary details by which the government plans to establish his guilt.” United States v. Gordon, 780 F.2d 1165, 1172 (5th Cir. 1986) (citing United States v. Cauble, 706 F.2d 1322, 1334 (5th Cir. 1983))

III. Analysis

The Defendant seeks (1) the overt act alleged to be in furtherance of the conspiracy, and (2) the location and victims of the alleged substantive counts. See R. Doc. 49. The Defendant argues that a bill of particulars is appropriate in this case because the indictment does not provide the locations of the alleged robberies or the names of the alleged victims, and without this information he will not be able to sufficiently conduct his investigation ...


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