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United States v. Leung

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 2, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVEN LEUNG, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL AND FOR A NEW TRIAL

SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.

On April 29, 2013, the Court heard argument on Defendants' motion for judgment of acquittal or, in the alternative, a new trial. Having considered the arguments of counsel and the papers submitted, the Court hereby DENIES defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

In June 2010, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice indicted AU Optronics Corporation ("AUO"), its wholly-owned subsidiary, AU Optronics Corporation of America ("AUO America"), and nine individuals on charges of price-fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. AUO is a major manufacturer of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display ("TFT-LCD") panels, electronic components that are used in computer monitors, televisions, and other consumer electronics. Superseding Indictment, §§ 3-4. The Superseding Indictment charged that AUO, in concert with other TFT-LCD manufacturers, conspired to fix worldwide prices of TFT-LCD panels.

On March 13, 2012, following an eight-week trial, a jury returned a verdict convicting defendants AUO, AUOA, Hsuan Bin Chen, and Hui Hsiung for their roles in the charged conspiracy. Special Verdict Form, Docket. No. 851. The jury did not reach a unanimous verdict on Defendant Leung. He was thus retried in late 2012, and on December 18, 2012, the jury reached a guilty verdict.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Rule 29

Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure requires the Court, on a defendant's motion, to "enter a judgment of acquittal of any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction." Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(a).

The Court's review of the constitutional sufficiency of evidence to support a criminal conviction is governed by Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979), which requires a court to determine whether "after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 319 (emphasis original); see also McDaniel v. Brown, ___ U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 665, 673 (2010) (reaffirming this standard). Accord United States v. Nevils, 598 F.3d 1158, 1163-64 (9th Cir. 2010) (en banc). This rule establishes a two-step inquiry:

First, a... court must consider the evidence presented at trial in the light most favorable to the prosecution.... [And s]econd, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the... court must determine whether this evidence, so viewed, is adequate to allow "any rational trier of fact [to find] the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt."

Nevils, 598 F.3d at 1164 (quoting Jackson, at 319) (emphasis in Jackson, final alteration in Nevils ).

II. Rule 33

"Upon the defendant's motion, the court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires." Fed. R. Crim. P. 33(a). The Ninth Circuit described the standard for granting a new trial in United States. v. A. Lanoy Alston, D.M.D., P.C., 974 F.2d 1206 (9th Cir. 1992), which it reaffirmed in United States v. Kellington, 217 F.3d 1084 (9th Cir. 2000):

[A] district court's power to grant a motion for a new trial is much broader than its power to grant a motion for judgment of acquittal. The court is not obliged to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and it is free to weigh the evidence and evaluate for itself the credibility of the witnesses.... If the court concludes that, despite the abstract sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the verdict, the evidence preponderates sufficiently heavily against the verdict that a serious miscarriage of ...

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