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United States of America v. Jamal Anthony

December 8, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge

J. Rambo


Before the court is Defendant Jamal Anthony's motion for a new trial. (Doc. 125.) For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

I. Background

On June 16, 2010 and June 17, 2010, the following facts were presented to a jury:

On April 2, 2009, Officer Levell Jenkins, of the Harrisburg Police Department and member of the Dauphin County Vice Squad, was conducting an undercover surveillance operation in the City of Harrisburg. (Tr. of Proc., at 44, 46.) Prior to any surveillance being conducted, Officer Jenkins met with Detective Corey Dickerson of the Dauphin County Criminal Investigation Unit. (Id. at 46.) Officer Jenkins was thus familiar with both Detective Dickerson, who would be participating in an undercover narcotics purchase, and the vehicle Detective Dickerson would be driving. (Id. at 47.)

Later that same day, law enforcement officials proceeded to Uptown Plaza in Harrisburg, where Officer Jenkins had a hand-held camera to record the potential narcotics sale and was in communication with other officers. (Id. at 47.) Officer Jenkins began recording the scene, eventually focusing in on an individual wearing a hooded jacket who proceeded to approach and then enter the car driven by undercover Detective Dickerson. (Id. at 47, 48.) At this point, Detective Dickerson and the individual left the area. (Id. at 48.)

Early that same day, Anthony's co-defendant in this case, Brandon Wallace, had agreed to sell undercover Detective Dickerson a half ounce of crack-cocaine. (Id. at 62.) Although Wallace was on his way out of town, he agreed to make the sale and it was determined they would meet at the Uptown Plaza. (Id. at 62, 63.) However, while en route, Wallace encountered Anthony, who he knew as "Mal." (Id. at 63.) Wallace asked him "if he wanted to make a few dollars" and deliver the drugs for Wallace.*fn1 (Id.) Anthony agreed to make the sell for Wallace, and Wallace in-turn informed Detective Dickerson that he would be sending an individual named "Mal" who would be arriving in a white Sonata and that he would know what Detective Dickerson was driving, this was all agreed to by Detective Dickerson. (Id.)

Shortly after Detective Dickerson arrived at the buy location, an individual wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and jeans approached the vehicle and got in the passenger side door. (Id. at 104.) At this point, Detective Dickerson made a mental note of the individuals facial features including that he had an earring, a chipped tooth, and was a medium to light skinned male, who identified himself as "Mal." (Id.) Detective Dickerson and Anthony then drove out of the parking lot before conducting the narcotics transaction, once out of the lot, Detective Dickerson gave Anthony six-hundred dollars for fifteen grams of crack-cocaine. (Id. at 105.)

At the time of the actual transaction, law enforcement were not yet aware of Jamal Anthony's real name. (Id. at 106.) To help establish his identity, Detective Dickerson gave other law enforcement officials his description and Anthony was later seen entering a white Kia.*fn2 (Id. at 106, 133.) At that exact time, law enforcement was unable to get a read on the white vehicle's license plate, however, further investigation of the video footage at a later date, albeit with some difficulty, showed similar tags which came back to a white Kia owned by Anthony's mother and registered at 812 North 18th Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17103. (Id. at 140-41.) In addition, immediately after the buy Detective Dickerson was shown a video of Jamal Anthony in the area of the drug transaction, and Dickerson was able to positively identify this as the individual, "Mal," who had sold him drugs. (Id. at 106.) Furthermore, shortly after this identification, Detective Dickerson wrote a summary report of the incident detailing the physical appearance of the person who had purchased drugs from, and how much of the controlled substance he bought. (Id. at 107.)

A few hours after the transaction, Detective Jason Paul with the Harrisburg City Police Department, who was the lead detective assigned to the case, contacted Detective Dickerson and asked him to view a photo of an individual, it was a driver's license photo, however, all identifying information was blocked. (Id. at 108.) Detective Dickerson identified the individual as Mal, and was "a hundred percent sure that Mr. Anthony, [Mal], sold [him] crack cocaine on April 2nd." (Id.) The license picture belonged to the defendant, Jamal Dion Anthony, with a residence of 812 North 18th Steet, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17103. (Id.)

After the completion of all evidence, the jury found Jamal Anthony guilty of conspiracy to distribute and distribution of five grams or more of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846. (Id. 241-42.)

II. Standard of Review

A motion for a new trial is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. Under this rule, in the case of a jury trial, "[t]he court may, on motion, grant a new trial on all or some of the issues-and to any party- . . . for any reason for which a new trial has been granted in an action at law in federal court." Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a)(1)(A). In the Third Circuit, a new trial is warranted "when the verdict is against the great weight of the evidence or errors at trial produce a result inconsistent with substantial justice." Sandrow v. United States, 832 F. Supp. 918, 918 (E.D. Pa. 1993) (citing Roebuck v. Drexel Univ., 852 F.2d 715, 735-36 (3d Cir. 1988)); see also Bullen v. Chaffinch, 336 F. Supp. 2d ...

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