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United States v. Surine

December 12, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
PAUL SURINE, SHANE CURRY, AND JIMMY DAKE, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McClure, Jr. United States District Judge

(Judge McClure)

ORDER

BACKGROUND

On September 27, 2007, a grand jury sitting in the Middle District of Pennsylvania handed down a three-count superceding indictment against Paul Surine, Shane Curry and Jimmy Dake, charging them with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances (21 U.S.C. § 846) (Count One); distribution of a controlled substance (21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)) (Count Two); and (as against Paul Surine only), possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime (18 U.S.C.§ 924(c)(1)) (Count Three).

All three defendants have been arraigned before Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion and entered pleas of not guilty. Trial in this case is scheduled to begin with jury selection on February 1, 2008.

Now before the court is defendant Paul Surine's motion for a bill of particulars. For the following reasons, the court will deny the motion.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(f) provides: Bill of Particulars. The court may direct the government to file a bill of particulars. The defendant may move for a bill of particulars before or within 10 days after arraignment or at a later time if the court permits. The government may amend a bill of particulars subject to such conditions as justices requires. "'The purpose of the bill of particulars is to inform the defendant of the nature of the charges brought against him [so that he may] adequately prepare his defense, to avoid surprise during the trial and to protect him against a second prosecution for an inadequately described offense.'" United States v. Addonizio, 451 F.2d 49, 63-64 (3d Cir. 1971) (quoting United States v. Tucker, 262 F. Supp. 305, 308 (S.D.N.Y. 1966)). A defendant has no right to a bill of particulars. United States v. O'Driscoll, 203 F. Supp. 2d 334, 348 (M.D. Pa. 2002). Granting a motion for a bill of particulars lies within the court's discretion. United States v. Torres, 901 F.2d 205, 234 (2d Cir. 1990); United States v. Armocida, 515 F.2d 49, 54 (3d Cir. 1975).

A motion for bill of particulars should be granted if the government's failure to allege factual or legal information in the indictment "significantly impairs the defendant's ability to prepare his defense or is likely to lead to prejudicial surprise at trial." United States v. Rosa, 891 F.2d 1063, 1066 (3d Cir. 1989). Because a bill of particulars defines and limits the government's case, the court must weigh the "defendant's interest in securing information" against the "government's interest in not committing itself to facts before it is in a position to do so." United States v. Serafini, 7 F. Supp. 2d 529, 547 & n.13 (M.D. Pa. 1998).

II. Surine's Motion

In his motion for a bill of particulars, Surine sets forth numerous requests for information regarding the crimes charged in the indictment. His requests are as follows:

A. Count One

1. A statement of all known overt acts the government intends to prove at trial, including, but not limited to (a) the date of each alleged act; (b) the time of each alleged act; (c) the place of each alleged act; (d) the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons witnessing, hearing or in any way knowing Paul Surine's ...


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