United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court in this case with charges of sex trafficking and
distribution of illicit drugs are eight pre-trial motions
filed by defendant Arthur Taylor, a/k/a “Arty”,
and twelve pre-trial motions filed by defendant Jamiell Sims,
a/k/a “Millz.” The motions of both defendants
have been briefed. For the reasons set forth below, the court
will GRANT IN PART and DENY IN
PART the pre-trial motions of both defendants as
of relevant background, on January 30, 2018, Taylor and Sims,
along with others, were indicted and charged in a Second
Superseding Indictment. Sims was charged with eleven counts,
namely, Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Taylor
was charged with eight counts, namely, Counts 1, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, and 13. Both defendants were basically charged with:
conspiracy to distribute in excess of 100 grams of heroin,
crack cocaine, molly, Percocet, and marijuana, 21 U.S.C.
§846; possession with intent to distribute molly, 21
U.S.C. §841(a)(1); conspiracy to commit sex trafficking
by force, fraud, and coercion, 18 U.S.C. §1594(c); four
substantive counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and
coercion, 18 U.S.C. §1591(a) and (b)(1) and 2; and one
count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, 18
U.S.C. §1951(a). With respect to the charge of
conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, and
coercion in Count 7, this Count also contains a section that
specifies 15 overt acts which were allegedly committed in
furtherance of the conspiracy as well as the relevant dates
that the overt acts were committed. In Counts 8-11,
defendants are charged with substantive offenses of sex
trafficking by force, fraud and coercion against the
individual victims. (Doc. 504).
January 31, 2018, defendants were arraigned and pled not
guilty to all counts of the Second Superseding Indictment
against them. The defendants were then detained.
February 19, 2018, defendants filed their pre-trial motions.
(Taylor, Docs. 542-549), (Sims, Docs. 551-562). The motions
of both defendants have been briefed.
court will now address the motions seriatim and
since the majority of the motions of each defendant are
essentially the same, they will be addressed jointly. The
court also directs that any of its rulings regarding the
pending pre-trial motions of Taylor and Sims also apply to
Jordan Capone, the third remaining defendant in this case,
even though she did not file any such motions.
final pre-trial conference was conducted on the record on
April 19, 2018, and the trial was continued at the request of
Taylor to July 23, 2018.
Motions for Disclosure of Confidential
Taylor and Sims filed motions for disclosure of confidential
informants, Docs. 542, 551, and basically contend, in broad
terms, that disclosure of the confidential informants is
necessary to prepare a defense, to test the informants'
credibility, ascertain informants' relationship to the
defendants and the others charged, discover the entire scope
of that relationship, and to discover exculpatory
is usually referred to as the informer's privilege is in
reality the Government's privilege to withhold from
disclosure the identity of persons who furnish information of
violations of law to officers charged with enforcement of
that law.” U.S. v. Rivera, 524 Fed.Appx. 821,
826 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Roviaro v. United
States, 353 U.S. 53, 59, 77 S.Ct. 623 (1957)).
“‘The scope of the privilege is limited by its
underlying purpose, ” ... which is ‘the
furtherance and protection of the public interest in
effective law enforcement.'” Id. at 826-27
(internal citations omitted). “The Government may be
required to disclose an informant's identity when
‘(1) the [informant's] possible testimony was
highly relevant; (2) it might have disclosed an entrapment;
(3) it might have thrown doubt upon the defendant's
identity; and (4) the informer was the sole participant other
than the accused, in the transaction charged.'”
Id. at 827 (citations omitted).
within the district court's discretion in deciding a
motion to compel the disclosure of the confidential
informant's identity. U.S. v. Goode, 486
Fed.Appx. 261, 264 (3d Cir. 2012). The Third Circuit in
Goode, 486 Fed.Appx. at 264-65, then explained:
The Supreme Court has held that the government's interest
in its informant's confidentiality “must give way,
” Roviaro v. United States, 353 U.S. 53, 61,
77 S.Ct. 623, 1 L.Ed.2d 639 (1957), only if the
informant's identity is “relevant and helpful to
the defense of the accused, or is essential to a fair
determination of a cause, ” Id. at 60-61. We
have held that the defendant bears the burden of showing why
he has a “specific need” for the disclosure of
the informant's identity. United States v.
Jiles, 658 F.2d 194, 197 (3d Cir.1981) (citations
omitted). “[M]ere speculation” that the
informant's testimony would be “helpful to [a]
defendant's case is not sufficient.” Id.
as the government recognizes, neither defendant meets his
burden of showing a specific need for the informants'
identities, and they only generally speculate that the
testimony of the informants would help their cases and
possibly reveal exculpatory evidence. The court finds that
defendants have not satisfied any of the above stated factors
specified in Rivera. Rather, the court finds that
defendants seek the informants' identities to conduct a
fishing expedition to try and discover information and that
this is not a sufficient basis to grant their motions.
See United States v. Bangaroo, 2017 WL
3495702 (M.D.Pa. Aug. 15, 2017).
based on the court's knowledge about the facts of this
case from the co-defendants who have pled guilty, the court
finds that the government also has good reason to protect the
identities of its informants for their safety and, the safety
of the informants is another reason why defendants'
motions will be denied. See Bangaroo, 2017 WL
if any informant will be called by the government to testify,
the court will only require the government to disclose
his/her identity immediately before the informant testifies.
The court however will direct the government to supply
defendants with any information related to confidential
informants, including any and all statements that they have
made recorded in any format, at the time that the government
is required to disclose Jencks material.
such, since defendants have failed to offer sufficient
evidence to show that the disclosure of the identities of the
informants at this time is necessary to prepare their defense
and since their need for disclosure does not outweigh the
government's interests in keeping the informants
confidential, Taylor's and Sims' motions for
disclosure of confidential informants, Docs. 542, 551, are
DENIED, except to the extent stated above.
also filed a separate motion for disclosure of exculpatory
evidence and evidence bearing on the credibility of
government witnesses. (Doc. 560). Sims requests that the
court to direct the government to provide him exculpatory
evidence and impeachment evidence under Brady and
government represents that it is aware of its
responsibilities under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S.
83, 83 S.Ct. 1194 (1963), and United States v.
Giglio, 405 U.S. 150, 92 S.Ct. 763 (1972), regarding its
trial witnesses and that it will comply with the mandates of
those cases and their progeny. No doubt that under
Brady the government has an obligation to disclose
all evidence favorable to defendants, including both
exculpatory evidence and impeachment evidence. See
United States v. Moreno, 727 F.3d 255, 262 (3d. Cir.
2013). Also, it is clear that under Giglio,
“the government must disclose materials that go to the
question of guilt or innocence as well as materials that
might affect the jury's judgment of the credibility of a
crucial prosecution witness.” United States v.
Friedman, 658 F.3d 342, 357 (3d Cir. 2011). The
government also has a continuing obligation to disclose any
such evidence to defendants. “While the failure to
timely disclose exculpatory evidence is not ipso
facto reversible error so long as the defendant is not
‘prevented by lack of time to make needed
investigation, ' exculpatory evidence nevertheless should
be disclosed without undue delay.” U.S. v.
Yawson, 2014 WL 3401663, *2 (W.D.Pa. July 10, 2014)
(internal citations omitted). The district court can direct
when Brady material has to be disclosed to
defendants. Id. (citation omitted). Thus, if the
government is aware of any Brady exculpatory
evidence that was not already turned over to the remaining
three defendants, the court directs the government to provide
such evidence to defendants immediately or as soon as it is
aware of it. See id.
“[w]hile Brady impeachment material ordinarily
need be disclosed only ‘in time for its effective use
at trial, ' the Third Circuit Court of Appeals also
encourages adherence to a long-standing policy of promoting
early production of all types of Brady material
‘to ensure the effective administration of the criminal
justice system.'” Id. (internal citations
omitted). Based on the facts of this case of which the court
is well-aware, the court will direct that the government
provide remaining defendants with Brady impeachment
material at the appropriate time under the Jencks Act.
such, Sims' motion for disclosure of exculpatory evidence
and evidence bearing on the credibility of government
witnesses, (Doc. 560), will be GRANTED IN
PART as specified above.
Motions for Full Discovery Under Rule 16
and Sims filed motions for full discovery and inspection,
Docs. 543, 554, pursuant to Rule 16. Defendants also seek, in
part, statements of co-conspirator, including all statements
given to law enforcement agencies regarding the case.
response, the government contends that Rule 16 does not
require to disclose the names of its witnesses prior to
trial. The government also indicates that it “has
provided Rule 16 discovery in this case, including the
recorded statement the defendant gave to the FBI after his
arrest; police reports related to an incident involving the
defendant[s] and a prostitute at a hotel; the
defendant[s'] prior record[s]; police reports from the
state of Maine related to the case; cell phone data,
including videos, photos, messages related to the case; and
hotel records.” Further, the government represents that
it will continue to provide Rule 16 discovery to defendants
as it acquires it.
reply, (Doc. 602), Taylor contends that the discovery which
the government has provided to defendants as of March 23,
2018 did not implicate him in any criminal activity charged
in the pending Indictment. In his brief, (Doc. 567), Sims
states that he “requests that the Government make an
affirmative search of all its records and information and
those of all related Government agencies and repositories of
possible evidence responsive to [his discovery] requests, as
well as all state agencies involved.”
U.S. v. Yawson, 2014 WL 3401663, *1 (W.D.Pa. July
10, 2014), the court stated:
Generally, governmental disclosure of evidence in criminal
cases is governed by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure
16(a). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit has recognized that discovery in criminal cases is
limited to those areas delineated in Rule 16(a)(1)
“with some additional material being discoverable in
accordance with statutory pronouncements and the due process
clause of the Constitution.” United States v.
Ramos, 27 F.3d 65, 68 (3d Cir. 1994). As a general
matter, these other areas are limited to the Jencks Act and
materials available pursuant to the “Brady
court will GRANT defendants' motion for
full discovery under Rule 16 and direct the government to
immediately provide defendants with all material to which
they are entitled under Rule 16 if it has not already done
as part of its continuing duty under Rule 16, the government
recently provided the remaining defendants with additional
discovery materials, including the names and partial names,
with addresses and other contact information redacted, of
several persons who may possess relevant information
pertaining to the charges against the defendants.
(See Doc. 616). Taylor did not indicate in his
recent motion for a continuance of the FPTC and trial if the
new discovery materials he received from the government
implicates him in the charged offenses. (Doc. 616). In any
event, while Taylor requested that the government provide him
with additional information in his reply brief, he has now
been recently provided with additional materials.
to the extent that defendants request the statements made by
co-conspirators, the court finds that this information does
not fall under Rule 16 discovery and thus, the government is
not required to provide such statements to defendants at this
time. In U.S. v. Cheatham,500 F.Supp.2d 528, 538
(W.D.Pa. 2007), the court stated “[d]istrict courts of
the Third Circuit have consistently held that Rule 16 does
not provide for the discovery of a co-conspirator's
statement.”) (citations omitted). The court in
Cheatham, Id. at 538-39, then “agree[d] with
these courts and [found] that Rule 16 does not provide for