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United States v. Rodriguez-Melendez

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 14, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
EDDIE RODRIGUEZ-MELENDEZ

MEMORANDUM

CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER, Chief District Judge.

Presently before the court is a motion to dismiss the indictment (Doc. 846), filed pro se by defendant Eddie Rodriguez-Melendez ("Rodriguez-Melendez") on June 11, 2014. For the reasons set forth below, the court will deny the motion.

I. Factual Background

On April 11, 2012, a grand jury indicted Rodriguez-Melendez, along with numerous other co-defendants, for drug trafficking offenses. (Doc. 1). A superseding indictment was filed on July 18, 2012. (Doc. 236). Rodriguez-Melendez pleaded not guilty to the superseding indictment on August 15, 2012. (Doc. 306). Numerous hearings for bail were held, but Rodriguez-Melendez remains detained without bail pending trial. (See Docs. 305, 437, 879).

On April 30, 2014, Rodriguez-Melendez filed a motion to dismiss counsel and proceed pro se. (Doc. 809). The court held a hearing and granted Rodriguez-Melendez's motion on June 11, 2014. (Doc. 848). Rodriguez-Melendez filed the instant pro se motion to dismiss the indictment the same day. (Doc. 846). Rodriguez-Melendez also subsequently filed a request (Doc. 904) for grand jury transcripts and a request (Doc. 906) for an evidentiary hearing in connection with the allegations presented in his motion to dismiss. The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

II. Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss a criminal indictment may be brought at any time before trial. FED. R. CRIM. P. 12(b)(3). A motion to dismiss the indictment typically alleges some procedural defect in initiating the prosecution, such as a violation of the constitutional right to a speedy trial or selective prosecution. See FED. R. CRIM. P. 12(b)(3)(A). A motion to dismiss may also allege a substantive defect in the indictment, such as a failure to state an offense or a lack of specificity concerning the charges. See FED. R. CRIM. P. 12(b)(3)(B).

III. Discussion

Rodriguez-Melendez's numerous allegations in his motion may be organized into five categories: (1) allegations that his home and vehicle were searched in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution; (2) complaints concerning his former counsel; (3) discrepancies during his detention hearings concerning whether defendant had a criminal record in Boston; (4) allegations that the government has illegally destroyed evidence; and (5) allegations that the grand jury indictment was issued against him because of mistaken identity. In connection with his motion to dismiss, Rodriguez-Melendez also requests copies of grand jury transcripts as well as an evidentiary hearing. The court will address each of Rodriguez-Melendez's allegations seriatim .

A. Home and Vehicle Searches

Rodriguez-Melendez first asserts that a warrantless search of his home and vehicle were conducted in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Such allegations, even if true, would not warrant dismissal of an indictment. Instead, if these searches were indeed unconstitutional, the court could suppress any evidence obtained as a result of those searches after a properly filed motion to suppress. However, Rodriguez-Melendez admits that the searches did not produce any evidence. Thus, the only remedy that Rodriguez-Melendez could explore for any alleged violation of his Fourth Amendment rights would be to file a separate civil complaint against the government alleging violations under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. The court will not dismiss the criminal indictment on this ground.

B. Former Counsel Complaints

Rodriguez-Melendez also makes a number of complaints concerning the conduct of his former counsel. However, the court has already granted Rodriguez-Melendez's request to proceed pro se in this matter. Moreover, the allegedly deficient performance ...


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