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United States v. Wecht

January 30, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CYRIL H. WECHT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

Electronically Filed

ORDER OF COURT ON GOVERNMENT'S MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANT'S TRIAL SUBPOENAS DUCES TECUM (DOC. NO. 688)

I. Previous "Trial" Subpoenas and Court's Rulings

On December 21, 2008, this Court entered an Order (doc. no. 632) addressing, in part, the Government's Motion to Quash (Doc. No. 600) defendant's subpoenas duces tecum directing persons to produce documents prior to trial at defense counsel's office. Because it is important to place the current dispute over subpoenas in context, that Order is repeated herein as follows:

Government's Motion to Quash Trial Subpoenas (doc. no. 600)

The government seeks an Order of Court quashing "trial" subpoenas duces tecum directed by defendant to an unknown number of potential trial witnesses, without prior court order, to produce documents on January 23, 2007, before the actual start date of the trial (January 28, 2008), but after the date jury selection is to commence (January 10, 2008). Moreover, the subpoena duces tecum attached to the government's motion directed production of requested documents at defense counsel's law office, not at the trial judge's Courtroom or anywhere else in the United States District Courthouse.

The "Subpoena in a Criminal Case" attached as Exhibit "A" to said Motion (doc. no. 600) is directed to "Stephen A. Zappala, Jr., District Attorney -Allegheny County." The first of seven pages is the Form AO-89 "Subpoena in a Criminal Case," which, by form language included by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, commands Zappala to "appear in the United States District Court at the place, date and time specified below or any subsequent place, date and time set by the court, to testify in the above referenced case." The "place" typed in the appropriate box is the "United States District Court," specifically, "Courtroom 7-C," and the date and time typed in the appropriate box is "1/23/07 at 9:00 a.m." The box commanding the person subpoenaed to bring documents or other objects with him describes the items to be produced as "SEE ATTACHMENT 'A.'"

The six typed pages attached to Zappala's AO-89 Form Subpoena in a Criminal Case initially gives three pages of definitions (much like a notice of deposition in a civil proceeding might), and lists ten categories of documents to be provided to "Jerry S. McDevitt, Esq." at the law offices of "Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis, LLP," on or before January 23, 2008.

Thus, the attachment to the Zappala trial subpoena requires him to produce documents to counsel for defendant at counsel's office, not at the United States District Courthouse, five days before the start of the trial, and also requests Zappala to appear at the Courthouse five days before the start of the trial. The subpoena is, therefore, more properly characterized as a pretrial subpoena.

Further, the Zappala pretrial subpoena seeks documents relating to matters that the Court has ruled, several times now, are not relevant to any issue that will be before the Court and jury at trial, in the Court's rulings (doc. nos. 193 and 591) denying defendant's two (2) Motions to Suppress (doc. nos. 55 and 509); rulings (doc. no. 264 and 557) denying defendant's two (2) Motions to Dismiss (doc. nos. 180 and 540); the Court's rulings on the admissibility of evidence (doc. no. 593); and rulings on motions in limine (doc. no. 594).

The applicable Rule of Criminal Procedure is Rule 17(c), which states:

(c) Producing Documents and Objects.

(1) In General. A subpoena may order the witness to produce any books, papers, documents, data, or other objects the subpoena designates. The court may direct the witness to produce the designated items in court before trial or before they are to be offered in evidence. When the items arrive, the court may permit the parties and their attorneys to inspect all or part of them. Construing Rule 17(c), the United States Supreme Court has stated:

It was not intended by Rule 16 to give a limited right of discovery, and then by Rule 17 to give a right of discovery in the broadest terms. Rule 17 provided for the usual subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum, which may be issued by the clerk, with the provision that the court may direct the materials designated in the subpoena duces tecum to be produced at a specified time and place for inspection by the defendant. Rule 17(c) was not intended to provide an additional means of discovery. Its chief innovation was to expedite the trial by providing a time and place before trial for the inspection of the subpoenaed materials.

Bowman Dairy Co. v. United States, 341 U.S. 214, 220 (1951). Bowman was followed and explained further in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 698-700 (1974):

A subpoena for documents may be quashed if their production would be 'unreasonable or oppressive,' but not otherwise. The leading case in this Court interpreting this standard is Bowman Dairy Co. . . . This case recognized certain fundamental characteristics of the subpoena duces tecum in criminal cases: (1) it was not intended to provide a means of discovery for criminal cases, id., at 220, 71 S.Ct. 675; (2) its chief innovation was to expedite the trial by providing a time and place before trial for the inspection of subpoenaed materials, ibid. As both parties agree, cases decided in the wake of Bowman have generally followed Judge Weinfeld's formulation in United States v. Iozia, 13 F.R.D. 335, 338 (SDNY 1952), as to the required showing. Under this test, in order to require production prior to trial, the moving party must show: (1) that the documents are evidentiary and relevant; (2) that they are not otherwise procurable reasonably in advance of trial by exercise of due diligence; (3) that the party cannot properly prepare for trial without such production and inspection in advance of trial and that the failure to obtain such inspection may tend unreasonably to delay the trial; and (4) that the application is made in good faith and is not intended as a general 'fishing expedition.' (footnotes omitted.)

The Zappala pretrial subpoena violates the express language of Rule 17(c), and the precedent applying that rule, which plainly require Court approval "to produce the designated items in court before trial or before they are to be offered in evidence," as well as ...


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