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United States v. Chavez

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

November 12, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL CHAVEZ, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR ISSUANCE OF RULE 17(C) SUBPOENAS RE: DKT. NO. 758

          VIRGINIA K. DEMARCHI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Defendant Daniel Chavez moves for an order authorizing issuance of subpoenas directing the pre-trial production of documents pursuant to Rule 17(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Dkt. No. 758. Mr. Chavez seeks production of documents concerning evidence (or lack thereof) of his alleged gang membership, uncharged crimes he is alleged to have committed, and any statements that he has given. The proposed subpoenas are directed to thirteen local law enforcement agencies, one local probation department, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”). The United States opposes the motion. Dkt. No. 760.

         The Court conducted a hearing on Mr. Chavez's motion on October 31, 2019. Dkt. No. 766. Based on the parties' submissions and arguments at the hearing, the Court concludes that Mr. Chavez may serve a documents subpoena on each of the identified agencies, so long as he describes the documents sought with greater specificity.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Chavez is charged in a superseding indictment with multiple counts, including racketeering, conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, robbery, and assault, arising from a criminal enterprise involving Salinas-based street gangs affiliated with the Nuestra Familia prison gang. Dkt. No. 40 ¶¶ 6-15. The government contends that Mr. Chavez is the squad leader of the criminal enterprise. Id. ¶ 17. In addition to the specific criminal acts charged against him in the superseding indictment, the government has provided notice to Mr. Chavez's counsel of approximately 130 other criminal acts-including murder, attempted murder, and armed robbery, dating back to February 10, 2003-that it may seek to prove at the time of trial. Dkt. No. 758 at 5. The government also has indicated its intent to seek the death penalty if Mr. Chavez is convicted. See Dkt. No. 738 at 7-8 (setting deadlines for disclosure of evidence supporting aggravating factors for death penalty and motion practice related to application of death penalty to Mr. Chavez).

         During the course of proceedings in this case, the government has identified a number of state and local law enforcement and other agencies that may have information relevant to this case. However, the government has taken the position that these entities are not part of the prosecution team, and none has been designated as investigative agency assisting the government in this case. Accordingly, the United States Attorney's office states that it assumes no obligation to obtain information from any of these entities or to produce such information as part of its discovery responsibilities. See Dkt. No. 123 at 2; Dkt. No. 766.

         In view of the government's position, Mr. Chavez seeks permission to serve Rule 17(c) document subpoenas seeking the following categories of documents from a number of state and local agencies:

Any and all documents and materials, however kept, in the possession of the [insert named entity] regarding Daniel Chavez (date of birth: 12/17/1981), Social Security number [redacted], California Driver's License No. [redacted] and that specifically:
1) Relate to Daniel Chavez's alleged membership in any of the following entities:
Nuestra Familia
Norteños
East Las Casitas (ELC)
Salinas East Market (SEM)
Santa Rita
2) Relate to any and all crimes that the [insert named entity] contends were committed by Daniel Chavez in the jurisdiction covered by [that entity] from the period of February 10, 2003 to the present day.
3) Relate to any statements made by Daniel Chavez to [insert named entry], whether oral or written, including any and ...

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