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United States of America v. Damien Hammonds

January 19, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DAMIEN HAMMONDS, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court is a motion (Doc. 187) for early disclosure of Brady and Jencks materials filed by defendant Damien Hammonds ("Hammonds"). Hammonds requests that the court order the United States of America ("United States") to immediately disclose all exculpatory Brady evidence except Giglio materials and to disclose all Gigliomaterials and Jencks materials at least two weeks prior to trial. For the reasons that follow, the court will deny the motion.

II. Background

On May 4, 2011, a federal grand jury returned a two-count Indictment charging Hammonds with (1) intentionally and knowingly manufacturing, distributing, and possessing with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base, and 5 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of title 21 U.S.C. § 841 (a)(1) and (2) criminal conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams of cocaine base, and 5 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. (Doc. 1). Hammonds pled not guilty at his initial appearance on May 6, 2011. (Doc. 6). On November 3, 2011, Hammonds filed this instant motion for early disclosure of Brady and Jencks materials. (Doc. 187). The motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for disposition. (See Docs. 188, 226).

III. Discussion

A. Brady Materials

Hammonds requests that the court order the United States to immediately disclose all exculpatory Brady evidence except Giglio impeachment materials and to disclose all Giglio impeachment materials at least two weeks in advance of trial. (Doc. 187 ¶ 19). Under Brady v. Maryland, the United States must disclose to the defendant any evidence in its possession that is favorable to the defendant and material either to guilt or to punishment. 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963). Both impeachment and exculpatory evidence fall within the United States' disclosure duty. See Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 154 (1972). Brady materials must be produced "in time for its effective use at trial." United States v. Starusko, 729 F.2d 256, 262 (3d Cir. 1984). Pursuant to the court's scheduling order dated May 9, 2011, the United States must permit counsel for Hammonds to "inspect, copy, or photocopy any exculpatory evidence within the purview of Brady" but the government may "redact impeachment material that is within the scope of Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972)." (Doc. 51, at 5). The court's scheduling order further states that "[t]he government shall make all Giglio material available to the defendant for inspection or copying at least one week before the start of trial, unless the government demonstrates that unique circumstances in the case require a later disclosure." (Id.)

In the case sub judice, the United States concedes that it must immediately disclose all exculpatory Brady evidence except Giglio impeachment materials.*fn1

(Doc. 226, at 2-3). The United States proposes disclosing all Giglio materials three days before the commencement of trial. (Doc. 226, at 2-3). In United States v. Higgs, the Third Circuit held that to fully protect a defendant's right to a fair trial, the United States must produce all Giglio materials on the day that the witness testifies. 713 F.2d 39, 44 (3d Cir. 1983). The court has discretionary authority to compel pretrial disclosure of Giglio material "to ensure the effective administration of the criminal justice system." Id. at 44 n.6; see also United States v. Starusko, 729 F.2d 256, 261 (3d Cir. 1984) ("The district court may dictate by court order when Brady material must be disclosed, and absent an abuse of discretion, the government must abide by that order."). The court finds that disclosure of Giglio materials at least one week prior to trial fully protects Hammond's right to a fair trial and provides counsel with sufficient time to effectively utilize the information.

The conclusory justifications for early disclosure proffered by Hammonds are insufficient to warrant early disclosure of Giglio materials and departure from the court's schedule order.*fn2 Accordingly, the court will deny Hammond's motion for early disclosure of Giglio materials.

B. Early Disclosure of Jencks Materials

Hammonds seeks disclosure of Jencks Act material at least two weeks prior to trial because it will assist him in preparing his defense and help ensure he receives a fair trial. (Doc. 188, at 5). The United States objects and proposes to produce all Jencks material three days prior to trial. (Doc. 226, at 3).

The Jencks Act provides:

In any criminal prosecution brought by the United States, no statement or report in the possession of the United States which was made by a Government witness or prospective Government witness (other than the defendant) shall be the subject of subpoena, discovery, or inspection until ...


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