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United States v. Garraud

August 19, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Surrick, J.


Presently before the Court are Defendant Daniel Garraud's Motion for Judgment [sic] of Acquittal Pursuant to Rule 29 and Motion for a New Trial Pursuant to Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Doc. No. 137.) For the following reasons, the Motions will be denied.


On July 25, 2007, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Defendant with armed bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d) (Count One) and using or carrying a firearm during a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count Two). (Doc. No. 10.) On May 1, 2009, a jury returned a verdict of guilty against Defendant on both counts. (Doc. No. 126.) On May 22, 2009, Defendant filed the instant motions for post-trial relief.*fn1 (Doc. No. 137.) Defendant challenges the Court's pre-trial rulings on his suppression application and his motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial as well as the Court's denial of his motion for a mistrial, which came in the middle of trial when a Government witness mentioned the "Bureau of Prisons."*fn2


A. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29

In considering a post-verdict motion for judgment of acquittal under Rule 29, we must determine "whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979). The evidence must be examined as a whole in the light most favorable to the prosecution, with the presumption being that the jury properly evaluated credibility of the witnesses, found the facts, and drew rational inferences. See United States v. Iafelice, 978 F.2d 92, 94 (3d Cir. 1992). The verdict of the jury must be upheld unless, viewing the evidence in this fashion, no rational jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319.

B. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 provides that "[u]pon the defendant's motion, the court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires." Fed. R. Crim. P. 33(a). "Unlike an insufficiency of the evidence claim, when a district court evaluates a Rule 33 motion it does not view the evidence favorably to the Government, but instead exercises its own judgment in assessing the Government's case." United States v. Johnson, 302 F.3d 139, 150 (3d Cir. 2002). "A district court can order a new trial on the ground that the jury's verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence only if it believes that there is a serious danger that a miscarriage of justice has occurred -- that is, that an innocent person has been convicted." (Id.) (internal quotation marks omitted). A new trial is required on the basis of evidentiary errors only when the "errors, when combined, so infected the jury's deliberation that they had a substantial influence on the outcome of the trial." United States v. Thornton, 1 F.3d 149, 156 (3d Cir. 1993). "Such motions are not favored and should be 'granted sparingly and only in exceptional cases.'" United States v. Silveus, 542 F.3d 993, 1005 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Gov't of Virgin Islands v. Derricks, 810 F.2d 50, 55 (3d Cir. 1987)).


A. Reasonable Suspicion to Conduct a Terry Stop

Defendant moves for a new trial, arguing that we made a "critical factual error" when we denied Defendant's pretrial motion to suppress. (Doc. No. 137 ¶ 17.) Defendant requests that we reconsider the suppression ruling because we made the original ruling "[w]ithout the benefit of having the ability to replay the radio transmissions nor the benefit of agreed upon transcripts . . . ." (Doc. No. 137-2 at 2.) Defendant argues that due to these alleged deficiencies "the Court made a critical error in determining the legal sufficiency for the stop of Defendant's vehicle." (Doc. No. 137 ¶ 16.) Specifically, Defendant argues that "these transmissions, which happened in a matter of seconds, undermine[] the statement of the arresting officers that they did not proceed to approach the vehicle until they were advised that the signal from the GPS devices was showing stationary." (Doc. No. 137-2 at 3.) Defendant "requests this Court to review its prior ruling and factual determinations now that it has the benefit of having heard the radio messages again, as well as, the benefit of the transcripts, which outline specifically that which aided the listeners in their consideration of the radio calls played during the course of the trial." (Doc. No. 137 ¶ 14.)

The Government responds that

[i]n a transparent rehashing of his pretrial arguments, [Defendant] now suggests that the availability at trial of a stipulated transcript of the 911 radio calls somehow contradicts the suppression hearing testimony of the arresting officers concerning the events leading to the defendant's arrest. This is illusion. At the suppression hearing, the audiotape of the pertinent 911 calls were played for the Court by the defendant. The tapes, which were audible and comprehensible, were the admissible evidence both at the suppression hearing and at trial. Thus, the Court was never deprived of the necessary tools to appropriately evaluate the credibility of the officers' testimony. The defendant's spin on the sequence of events preceding his arrest is not supported by either the 911 calls or the transcript. (Doc. No. 145 at 8.)

Although Defendant attempts to frame his request for reconsideration as one that arises out of new evidence that became available during trial, in fact there has been no change that would justify our consideration of Defendant's suppression arguments for a second time. We found that the police had reasonable suspicion for the stop of Defendant's car. A review of the record amply demonstrates that this was a proper finding. The police radio transcript that Defendant attached to his motions demonstrates that at the moment that the arresting officers, who were positioned at the Interplex on Old Lincoln Highway, announce that they "got ah, an Acura eastbound on Old Lincoln Highway right now," police dispatch informs responding officers that the GPS signal is "now in the area of Old Lincoln Highway at the Interplex." (Doc. No. 137-3, Ex. A at 5-6.) Immediately thereafter, police dispatch reports: "We're showing it's right at the Interplex, on Old Lincoln Highway, in the area of the Interplex." (Id. at 6.) Even if one were to accept Defendant's contention that there was a question concerning the officers' testimony as to the time line of events, the officers nevertheless had reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant's car. The police officers knew that the bank robber was a black male. Defendant was driving his car on Old Lincoln Highway at the Interplex. The arrested officers were stationed at the Interplex. The GPS devices that had been hidden in the money by the bank tellers identified the bank robber as being at the Interplex. Defendant was the only black male driver driving a motor vehicle at the Interplex at that time. Defendant's motion for a new trial based upon the assertion that the Terry stop was not based on reasonable suspicion is frivolous.

B. Speedy Trial Rights under the Sixth Amendment

Next, Defendant asks that we also reconsider our ruling on Defendant's pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment based on alleged speedy trial violations. Defendant contends that "[a]lthough Defendant's argument was based primarily on violation of 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c), Defendant included as a basis for his dismissal the violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial" (Doc. No. 137 ¶ 23), but that "[t]he Court did not directly address, in its Memorandum, that aspect of Defendant's claim" (id. ¶ 24). Defendant argues that the delay of "almost twenty-two (22) months . . . from the date of Defendant's arrest until the actual trial of the matter at hand" prejudiced him and violated his speedy trial rights under the Sixth Amendment. (Doc. No. 137-2 at 4.) "Defendant, avers that upon the Court's ...

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