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United States v. Bedjan

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 14, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BANIPAL BEDJAN, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL IN PART (Docs. 15, 20)

SHEILA K. OBERTO, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant Banipal Bedjan (Defendant) is charged in a two count indictment filed on May 16, 2013. Count one alleges Defendant knowingly and intentionally possessed Oxycodone on January 23, 2013, with an intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Count two charges Defendant with being a felon in possession of three firearms located at his parents' home on April 29, 2013, in violation of 18 U.S.C § 922(g)(1).

The charge in count one stems from Defendant's encounter with Officer Castro on January 23, 2013. Subsequently, on April 19, 2013, Officer Castro performed a traffic stop on the Defendant. No charges were filed as a result of this encounter. The events of January 23, 2013, and April 19, 2013, were used to obtain a search warrant for a home belonging to the Defendant's parents. The search was conducted on April 29, 2013, and three guns were located that are the basis for count two of the indictment.

This case is set for trial on December 16, 2014.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standards for Discovery

1. Rule 16

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)(1)(E) (formerly Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a)(1)(C)), the government must provide a criminal defendant with discovery of materials "which are within the possession, control, or custody of the government and which are material to the preparation of the defendant's defense." Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a)(1)(E). However, a defendant must make a prima facie showing of materiality before he is entitled to obtain the requested discovery. U.S. Santiago, 46 F.3d 885, 894 (9th Cir. 1995) citing United States v Mandel, 914 F.2d 1215, 1219 (9th Cir. 1990). "Neither a general description of the information sought nor conclusory allegations of materiality suffice; a defendant must present facts which would tend to show that the Government is in possession of information helpful to the defense." Id .; See also, U.S. v. Stever, 603 F.3d 747, 752 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting United States v. Santiago, 46 F.3d at 893). Further, to show materiality, the evidence in question must enable the defendant to substantially alter the quantum of proof in his favor. U.S. v. Marshall, 532 F.2d 1279, 1285 (9th Cir. 1976), or be "relevant to the development of a possible defense." U.S. v. Mandel, 914 F.2d at 1219.

In United States v Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456, 116 S.Ct. 1480, 134 L.Ed.2d 687 (1996), the Supreme Court considered the parameters of Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a)(1)(C). The Supreme Court held that defendants are entitled to the discovery of only those materials that are relevant to the defendant's response to the Government's case in chief:

While it might be argued that as a general matter, the concept of a "defense" includes any claim that is a "sword, " challenging the prosecution's conduct of the case, the term may encompass only the narrower class of "shield" claims which refute the Government's arguments that the defendant committed the crime charged. Rule 16(a)(1)(C) tends to support the "shield-only" reading. If "defense" means an argument in response to the prosecution's case in chief, there is a perceptible symmetry between documents "material to the preparation of the defendant's defense, " and, in the very next phrase, documents "intended for use by the government as evidence in chief at the trial."

Id. at 462, 116 S.Ct. 1480.

Discovery of a defendant's statements are subject to the provisions of Rule 16(a)(1)(A) which provides as follows:

(A) Defendant's Oral Statement. Upon a defendant's request, the government must disclose to the defendant the substance of any relevant oral statement made by the defendant, before or after arrest, in response to interrogation by a person the defendant knew was a government agent if the government intends to use the statement at trial.
(B) Defendant's Written or Recorded Statement. Upon a defendant's request, the government must disclose to the defendant, and make available for inspection, copying, or photographing, all of the following:
(i) any relevant written or recorded statement by the defendant if:
• the statement is within the government's possession, custody or control; and
• the attorney for the government knows - or through due diligence could know - that ...

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