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United States v. Brown

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 14, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
CURTIS DELAY BROWN, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT

TERRENCE F. McVERRY, District Judge.

Now pending before the Court are Defendant's MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE IRRELEVANT AND UNFAIRLY PREJUDICIAL STATEMENTS (ECF No. 74); MOTION IN LIMINE CONCERNING OPERABILITY OF THE FIREARM (ECF No. 75); and MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE REFERENCES TO IRRELEVANT EVIDENCE WITH CITATION OF AUTHORITY (ECF No. 76). The Government has filed an OMNIBUS RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE (ECF No. 83). Accordingly, the motions are ripe for disposition.

I. Background

Defendant, Curtis Delay Brown, is charged in a one-count criminal indictment with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, on or about July 7, 2012, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 922(g)(1) and 924(e). See Indictment at 1 (ECF No. 19). On the date in question, Pittsburgh Police Officers were assisting Pennsylvania Liquor Control Enforcement officers in serving a search warrant on an after-hours nightclub in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Defendant was allegedly sitting on a couch in the club when the officers came upon the scene. Upon entering the club, an officer allegedly observed Defendant reach into his waistband area, pull out a firearm, and shove the firearm between two couch cushions. Defendant was detained, and the officers recovered a loaded.38 Special Taurus revolver, model 85, serial number XK97661, from between the couch cushions.

This case was originally scheduled for a jury trial to begin on October 8, 2013. Defendant filed motions in limine on September 23, 2013, and the Government responded on September 30, 2013. On October 1, 2013, the Court granted Defendant's motion to postpone the trial. It has since been rescheduled for Monday, January 27, 2014.

II. Discussion

The Court will address each of Defendant's motions seriatim.

A. Defendant's Statements Regarding Possession of a Firearm

Defendant seeks to prevent the Government from introducing the following statements he allegedly made to ATF Agent Louis Weirs following his arrest:

Brown stated that he carries a firearm for self protection due to the area in which he lives and the nature of the business he is in. He added that he may not always have the firearm on him, but it is near, if needed. Brown stated that there is no guarantee he would not stop carrying a gun after this arrest. Brown added that he didn't want to go around and shoot someone, but was just for protection.

Defendant contends that his statements constitute impermissible propensity evidence under Fed.R.Evid. 404(b). In response, the Government submits that the statements do not constitute 404(b) evidence since they relate to the incident charged in the indictment, not past instances of conduct. Alternatively, the Government contends that even if the statements implicate Rule 404(b), they are admissible to show the Defendant's motive for carrying a firearm on the date in question. The Court will assume for the purpose of this motion that the statements implicate Rule 404(b). In either event, the Court finds that the statements are admissible.

Rule 404(b)(1) provides that "[e]vidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person's character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character." Such evidence may, however, be admissible for another relevant purpose, "such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident." Fed.R.Evid. 404(b)(2). The United States Supreme Court has established a four-step test for determining the admissibility of evidence covered by the Rule:

(1) the evidence must have a proper purpose under Rule 404(b); (2) it must be relevant under Rule 402; (3) its probative value must outweigh its prejudicial effect under Rule 403; and (4) the court must charge the jury to consider the ...

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