United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER
CRIMINAL MINUTES - GENERAL
(IN CHAMBERS) - MORENO'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY
(Filed March 5, 2017, Dkt. 33)
MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY (Filed March 6, 2017, Dkt. 34)
November 29, 2016, the Government filed a criminal complaint
against Cesar Flores and Manuel Moreno (collectively
“defendants”). Dkt. 1. On December 16, 2016, a
grand jury returned a three-count indictment against
defendants. Dkt. 12 (“the Indictment”). The
Indictment alleges that on or about October 11, 2016, Flores
and Moreno: (1) conspired to possess methamphetamine with
intent to distribute it, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
846; (2) possessed or aided and abetted possession, with
intent to distribute, methamphetamine, in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(viii); 18 U.S.C.
§ 2(a); and (3) possessed, or aided and abetted
possession of, a firearm in the furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(A)(i); 18 U.S.C. § 2(a).
March 5, 2017, Moreno filed a motion to compel discovery.
Dkt. 32 (“the Motion”). On March 6, 2017, Flores
joined in Moreno's motion and filed a separate memorandum
in support of the motion. Dkt. 34. On March 13, 2017, the
Government filed a consolidated opposition. Dkt. 37
(“Opp'n”). On March 16, 2017, Moreno filed a
reply. Dkt. 40. On April 5, 2017, Flores filed a reply under
seal. Dkt. 50. On April 7, 2017, the Government filed a sur
reply to Flores's reply. Dkt. 53. On April 10, 2017, the
Court distributed a tentative ruling and held oral argument
regarding the parties' continuing discovery disputes.
Dkt. 54. Many of the parties' arguments relate to the
pending motion to suppress evidence seized during a traffic
stop of defendants' vehicle by Los Angeles Sheriff's
Department (“LASD”) Deputy James Peterson. In
light of the Court's tentative ruling, the Government has
submitted documents for the Court's in camera review
relating to (1) other traffic stops by Peterson and (2) the
dismissal of two past cases wherein Peterson was a witness.
The Court has since reviewed the documents submitted by the
Government. In light of the continuing disclosures by the
Government, the Court ordered the parties to submit a joint
report regarding remaining discovery disputes no later than
April 24, 2017. Id. On April 24, 2017, the parties
filed a joint status report regarding discovery disputes.
8, 2017, the Court held further oral argument regarding
remaining discovery issues in this case. Having carefully
considered the parties' arguments the Court finds and
concludes as follows.
October 11, 2016, LASD Deputy Peterson stopped a Toyota 4
Runner (“the vehicle”) on Interstate-5. Flores
was driving the vehicle. Moreno was a passenger. Peterson
approached the vehicle, spoke with the occupants, and
ultimately asked both defendants to exit the vehicle.
Peterson claims to have smelled marijuana in the vehicle.
Defendants refused to consent to a search of the vehicle.
Peterson placed both defendants in his patrol car while
waiting for a canine-unit to arrive. Thereafter, Jeffrey
Hoslet arrived at the scene with a narcotics detection dog.
The narcotics dog handled by Hoslet allegedly alerted to the
presence of narcotics in the vehicle. LASD deputies searched
the vehicle and found just over 4 kg of methamphetamine in a
backpack and a .40 caliber handgun in the center console.
respective motions to compel discovery seek production of
several different categories of evidence.
Defendants' Statements and Scientific Tests
request production of evidence relating to their own
statements and any scientific tests and reports created in
relation to this case. The Government avers that all such
discovery has already been provided to the defense. Opp'n
at 9-10. In his reply, Moreno indicates that he will accept
the Government's representations in this respect. Dkt. 40
at 7-8. Flores's reply appears to be silent with respect
to defendants' statements and scientific tests.
Furthermore, the parties' joint status report makes no
mention of any remaining discovery dispute regarding
defendants' statements or scientific tests. In light of
the foregoing, defendants' motions are DENIED with
respect to production of defendants' statements as well
as scientific tests and reports.
Henthorn Material Relating to Peterson
duty to inspect personnel records in the Government's
possession rests with the Government. United States v.
Henthorn, 931 F.2d 29, 31 (9th Cir. 1991). The
Government also has a duty to learn of exculpatory evidence
known to others acting on the Government's behalf,
“including the police.” United States v.
Price, 566 F.3d 900, 903 (9th Cir. 2009).
In response to a request for exculpatory evidence, the
prosecution does not have a constitutional duty to disclose
every bit of information that might affect the jury's
decision; it need only disclose information favorable to the
defense that meets the appropriate standard of materiality.
If the prosecution is uncertain about the materiality of
information within its possession, it may submit the
information to the trial court for an in camera inspection
United States v. Gardner, 611 F.2d 770, 774-75 (9th
Cir. 1980) (citations omitted). Only where the Government
fails in its obligation to inspect personnel records may the
Court intervene to conduct its own, in camera, review of the
appropriate records and determine whether the Government is
or was obligated to produce particular information.
Henthorn, 931 F.2d at 31.
contend that they are entitled to additional
Henthorn materials. Defendants contend:
(1) that the Government has not adequately reviewed Hoslet
and Peterson's LASD personnel files and disclosed
Henthorn materials therein;
(2) that defendants are entitled to additional records
regarding disciplinary actions against Peterson in 1998 and
(3) that defendants should be provided information relating
to other traffic stops by Peterson; and
(4) that defendants' should be given any documents
prepared by the U.S. Attorney's Office regarding
Peterson's credibility, the dismissal of other cases
wherein Peterson was the arresting deputy, and any official
decisions to refer Peterson for investigation by LASD or the
Dkt. 60. The Court will address each issue in-turn.
LASD Personnel Files
result of subpoenas issued to LASD for Hoslet and
Peterson's personnel records, the Court has reviewed each
deputies' records in camera. That in camera review
resulted in the disclosure of additional Henthorn
material relating to Peterson and Hoslet. In light of the
Court's in camera review of the personnel records at
issue and the Government's representation that it has
produced all Henthorn materials in its possession,
defendants' motion to compel further discovery from the
deputies' files is DENIED.
The 1998 and 2002 Discipline Against Peterson
acknowledge having received a description of two prior
disciplinary actions against Peterson derived from
Peterson's personnel file. The Court has reviewed
Peterson's personnel records in camera and determined
that the entire Internal Affairs Bureau file regarding
Peterson's misconduct in 2002 should be disclosed to
defendants. The Court has already disclosed those records to
the parties, subject to a protective order. Accordingly,
defendants' motions to compel further discovery of
documents relating to the 2002 investigation are DENIED as
respect to discipline against Peterson for conduct in 1998,
the Court has similarly reviewed Peterson's records and
determined that all material facts have already been
disclosed by the Government in its description of the 1998
discipline. Accordingly, defendants' motions to compel
discovery of records relating to the 1998 discipline are
Past Traffic ...