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United States v. Garrison

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 3, 2015


          Ricky Garrison, also known as " G", Defendant, Pro se.

         For Ricky Garrison, also known as " G", Defendant: Mitchell Baker, LEAD ATTORNEY, Mitch Baker, Attorney at Law, Denver, CO; James A. Castle, Castle & Castle, PC, Denver, CO.

         For James Tillmon, also known as Black also known as Kevin Garner, Defendant: Clifford J. Barnard, LEAD ATTORNEY, Clifford J. Barnard, Attorney at Law, Boulder, CO.

         For Christopher Martinez, also known as Little C, Defendant: Lisa Fine Moses, LEAD ATTORNEY, LFM Defense, Greenwood Village, CO.

         For Francisco Aguilar, Defendant: Leslee Anne Barnicle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Osage Law Offices, The, Denver, CO.

         For Simeon Ramirez, Defendant: Lisa Monet Wayne, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lisa M. Wayne, Law Office of, Denver, CO.

         For Christopher Vigil, Defendant: Andres Rene Guevara, LEAD ATTORNEY, Andres R. Guevara, Law Office of, Greenwood Village, CO.

         For Archie Poole, Defendant: Ronald John Hahn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ronald Hahn, Law Offices of, Englewood, CO.

         For Luis Ramirez, also known as Julian, Defendant: Adam Michael Tucker, LEAD ATTORNEY, Adam Tucker, P.C., The Law Office of, Denver, CO.

         For Melvin Turner, also known as Mellow, Defendant: Robert Seldis Berger, LEAD ATTORNEY, Robert S. Berger, Attorney at Law, Denver, CO.

         For Sidney Taylor, Defendant: John Edward Mosby, LEAD ATTORNEY, John Mosby, Attorney at Law, Denver, CO.

         For Gregory Williams, Defendant: Peter D. Menges, LEAD ATTORNEY, Peter D. Menges, P.C.,The Law Office of, Denver, CO.

         For Robert Painter, Defendant: Patrick J. Burke, LEAD ATTORNEY, Patrick J. Burke, P.C., Denver, CO.

         For Latoya Wimbush, Defendant: Thomas Richard Ward, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ward Law Firm, P.C. The, Denver, CO.

         For USA, Plaintiff: Zachary Hugh Phillips, LEAD ATTORNEY, Wayne Campbell, U.S. Attorney's Office-Denver, Denver, CO.


         William J. Martinez, Judge.

         Before the Court are seven motions seeking discovery from the Government and two motions attacking the indictment. For the reasons explained below, the Court denies all of the discovery motions (either as moot, premature, or insufficiently supported). The Court reserves ruling on the motions attacking the indictment in light of its Order on Procedures. ( See ECF No. 99 ¶ 8(a).)

         I. BACKGROUND

         This sixteen-defendant case principally involves what the Government alleges to be a large conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines. ( See ECF No. 10.) The Government used a number of Title III wiretaps while investigating the alleged conspiracy. According to Defendant Garrison, the Government obtained these wiretaps by representing that they would be used to investigate " large-scale drug distribution and/or the Gangster Disciples street gang." (ECF No. 611 at 2.)


         A. Garrison's Requests

         Garrison's 60-page Motion for Specific Discovery is extensive and reminiscent of the wide-ranging, often questionably relevant requests for production typically seen in civil litigation. His requests may be summarized as follows:

o essentially all information the Government has developed regarding the Gangster Disciples since January 2012, including information developed for other prosecutions and information about confidential informants (ECF No. 611 at 29-35);
o information in the Government's possession about the Aurora Police Department's investigation of a homicide (allegedly linked to Garrison) of a confidential informant ( id. at 35-38);
o all information obtained by the Government regarding " Operation Red Dawn," a local law enforcement investigation that apparently partially overlapped with the Government's investigation of the Gangster Disciples ( id. at 38-41);
o documents generated with respect to the Government's various confidential informants used in the Gangster Disciples investigation ( id. at 39-48);
o information regarding whether investigating agencies employed " parallel construction," an alleged tactic by which law enforcement agencies prepare two files for each investigation, one that tells the entire story of the investigation, and another that has been " sanitized" of sensitive information ( id. at 48-51);
o the results of any analysis performed on raw data ( i.e., phone numbers) obtained through pen registers, trap and trace devices, or administrative subpoena of phone records ( id. at 51-54);
o all information regarding any member of the Gangster Disciples, and regarding any individual named in a wiretap application whose communications would be intercepted, contained in any database on which the Government relied, and all analyses of information gleaned from these databases ( id. at 54-60).

         Garrison seeks this information in hopes of gathering more evidence to support an anticipated " motion to suppress [the] evidence obtained pursuant to the Title III interceptions." (ECF No. 611.)

         Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 governs electronic eavesdropping by law enforcement officials. See 18 U.S.C. § § 2510-22. Given the extraordinary danger that wiretaps pose to Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, wiretaps are not to be routinely employed in criminal investigations. United States v. Giordano, 416 U.S. 505, 515, 94 S.Ct. 1820, 40 L.Ed.2d 341 (1974). Indeed, to obtain a wiretap warrant, the Government must first satisfy a court that numerous prerequisites have been met, most of which go beyond what would be necessary to establish traditional probable cause for a search warrant. See generally 18 U.S.C. § 2518.

         For each category of information that Garrison requests, he argues that it would assist him to establish the Government's alleged failure to satisfy various Title III prerequisites, thus supporting a motion to suppress. However, although numerous cases discuss a court's obligations when a defendant moves to suppress on these grounds, Garrison does not cite--and this Court could not find--any case regarding whether a defendant is entitled to discovery to assist him or her in developing such a motion. This is all the more telling given that Garrison's motion contains a 20-page " Law" section describing (in the abstract) various legal grounds for discovery and suppression, yet none of Garrison's cited authorities mention discovery for purposes of preparing a Title III challenge. Moreover, in the ensuing 31 pages of specific requests and explanations for those requests, the Court counts a total of nine citations to legal authority--and again, none relates to discovery for purposes of preparing a Title III challenge.

         This does not necessarily mean that a defendant may never obtain such discovery. Nonetheless, " [t]here is no general constitutional right to discovery in a criminal case." Weatherford v. Bursey, 429 U.S. 545, 559, 97 S.Ct. 837, 51 L.Ed.2d 30 (1977). The Government's pretrial discovery obligations instead rest largely on four authorities: (1) Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), which holds that due process requires prosecutors to disclose to defendants potentially exculpatory evidence; (2) Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 92 S.Ct. 763, 31 L.Ed.2d 104 (1972), which holds that exculpatory evidence includes evidence affecting witness credibility if the witness's reliability will likely determine guilt or innocence; (3) Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16, which establishes a number of specific discovery obligations; and (4) the Court's inherent authority to order discovery in certain circumstances. Each will be discussed in turn.

         B. Brady and Giglio

         To the extent Garrison claims that the information he requests must be disclosed under Brady or Giglio, the Government affirms that it is aware of its obligations under those cases, that it has already supplied the relevant information in its possession, and that it " will continue to provide the materials required by these cases and subsequent decisions." (ECF No. 678 at 1-2.) The Court has no reason to doubt this assertion.

         Garrison nonetheless appears to be arguing that much of what he now requests somehow falls under Brady or Giglio and should be disclosed. For example, Garrison argues at least three times, without citation to authority, that certain information " must be provided because it is favorable to the defense." (ECF No. 611 at 31, 40, 44-45.) Assuming Garrison intends this as a reference to Brady or Giglio, his argument fails. In all three instances, Garrison requests information that, if it exists, might be " favorable" to his planned wiretap challenge, depending on what the information actually reveals. But Brady and Giglio do not address all forms of information that might be helpful to a wiretap challenge. Rather, those cases focus on information favorable to the accused with respect either to guilt or punishment.

         More broadly, Garrison also asks this Court to hold that Brady requires disclosure of all information that might simply be helpful to him in any strategy he might pursue. (ECF No. 611 at 9.) Out of respect for the rule of law and the goal of fair adjudication, out of respect for the dignity of the defendant, and recognizing the typical asymmetry of information between the Government and the defendant, the Court strongly encourages the Government to adopt this approach. To a small extent, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado has already done so. ( Seeid. at 27-28 (quoting the USAO-CO's office policies manual regarding criminal discovery).) But ...

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