United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is the Motion to Suppress Evidence and/or
Motion in Limine (Doc. 22) filed by
Defendant Mark Anthony, opposing the introduction of evidence
seized on March 4, 2018 at the trial in this matter. (Doc. 22
at p. 1) The Government filed a Response. (Doc. 24) The Court
held an evidentiary hearing on December 20, 2018. For the
reasons stated herein, the Motion to Suppress
and/or Motion in Limine (Doc. 22)
March 4, 2018, a Baton Rouge Police Department
("BRPD") officer responded to a
"ShotSpotter" alert which detected a shot fired in
Baton Rouge, LA. (Doc. 24 at p. 1) The officer discovered
Defendant at the scene. (Id.) Body camera footage
depicted the officer issuing a verbal warning to Defendant
after the officer allegedly witnessed him holding a gun.
(Id.) After detaining Defendant, the officer walked
to the area where Defendant had been standing and discovered
a handgun. (Id.) The officer determined that the
handgun was stolen, and that Defendant had been convicted of
at least one felony offense. (Id.) Defendant claimed
that the handgun belonged to his sister. (Id.) DNA
swabs were taken from the handgun, the magazine, and the
ammunition. (Id. at p. 2) DNA swabs were also taken
from Defendant pursuant to a state court search warrant.
Defendant's indictment and during the discovery phase of
these proceedings, the Government represented to Defendant
that neither DNA nor an accompanying expert would be produced
at trial. (Id.) Despite this, on September 5, 2018,
the Government produced a laboratory report from the
Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory, confirming the
presence of Defendant's DNA on the items tested. (Doc. 22
at p. 2) The Government then reversed course and notified
Defendant of its intention to introduce the finding at trial.
Defendant now moves to exclude the report as well as any
accompanying supporting expert witnesses at trial.
Federal Rule of Evidence 403
argues that the laboratory report is inadmissible under Rule
403, which provides that "the court may exclude relevant
evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed
by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair
prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue
delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative
the laboratory report is prejudicial to Defendant's case,
the Government's delay in pi-oviding it does not render
its use unfair. The Government received the laboratory report
on September 5, 2018 and forwarded it to Defendant on the
same day. (Doc. 24 at p. 3) This occurred twenty days after
the close of discovery, but still five months before the
trial date. As such, the Court does not find the requisite
level of unfairness to justify the exclusion of the report.
In fact, Defendant has failed to point to any evidence to
show that he would be unfairly prejudiced by the admission of
the report and testimony. United States v. Caldwell,
20 F.2d 1395, 1404 (5th Cir. 1987) (finding that
Rule 403 is an "extraordinary" measure). Moreover,
the Court does not find that the laboratory report would
confuse or mislead the jury, or that it is cumulative
evidence. Accordingly, Defendant is not entitled to the
exclusion of the report under Federal Rule of Evidence 403.
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16
argues that the Government has violated its Rule 16(a)(1)
discovery obligations by failing to timely disclose the
laboratory report and the expert witnesses who will be
testifying to the report's contents. FRCP 16(a)(1)
provides that upon a defendant's request, the Government
must disclose any reports of examinations or tests and a
summary of any testimony to be provided by expert witnesses.
Defendant seeks, as an appropriate sanction, the exclusion of
the laboratory report and accompanying expert witnesses and
asserts that a district court is within its authority to
manage its docket by enforcing a pretrial discovery order and
excluding expert testimony. (Doc. 22-1 at p. 5) (citing
U.S. v. W.R. Grace, 526 F.3d 499, 506 (9th Cir.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held
that when considering the imposition of sanctions for
discovery violations, a Court should consider the following
factors: (1) the reasons why disclosure was not made; (2) the
amount of prejudice to the opposing party; (3) the
feasibility of curing such prejudice with a continuance of
the trial; and (4) any other relevant circumstances.
United States u. Garrett, 238 F.3d 293, 298
(5th Cir. 2000). Moreover, the Fifth Circuit has repeatedly
emphasized that in fashioning a sanction for a discovery
violation, the district court "should impose only that
sanction which is the least severe way to effect compliance
with the court's discovery orders." United
States v. Garrett, 238 F.3d 293, 298 (5th Cir. 2000).
stated previously, the Government did not timely disclose the
laboratory report because it did not receive the report until
September 5, 2018, twenty days after the close of discovery.
On that same day, however, the Government forwarded the
report to Defendant. (Doc. 24-11 at p. 11) While the late
disclosure of the report constitutes a technical violation of
the discovery order, nothing offered by Defendant suggests
that it was due to bad faith on the part of the Government.
Moreover, any potential prejudice to Defendant is cured by
the fact that Defendant received it five months prior to the
start of trial. Defendant has been provided with ample time
to consider the results of the testimony and to attempt to
amass evidence to rebut it. Accordingly, Defendant is not
entitled to the exclusion of the laboratory report or
accompanying expert witnesses.