United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
P. WATTERS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Raymond Thomas Tetzlaff has moved the court to release to him
discovery materials marked "sensitive" under D.
Mont. L. R. 16.4(a). (Doc. 48). The United States opposes the
motion. (Doc. 53). For the reasons set forth below, Tetzlaff
s motion is DENIED.
March 1, 2017, Tetzlaff was indicted for Conspiracy to
Possess Methamphetamine with the Intent to Distribute,
Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute,
Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Possession of a Firearm
During a Drug Trafficking Offense. (Doc. 1). March 23, 2017
was the discovery deadline. (Doc. 24). In compliance with the
scheduling order, the United States disclosed reports and
search warrants in addition to other discovery material.
(Doc. 53 at 2). As required under District of Montana Local
Criminal Rule 16.4(a), the United States marked approximately
900 pages of documents 'sensitive material' because
the documents contained personal information, personal
identifiers, or financial information. (Doc. 49 at 2).
2, 2017, defense counsel met with Tetzlaff at Crossroads in
Shelby, Montana, to review the 'sensitive materials.'
(Id.). Although counsel allotted three hours for
Tetzlaff to review the material, Tetzloff was allowed only
one hour due to facility issues. (Id.). His review
was also slowed because he was shackled, making it difficult
to turn pages and review the material. (Id.).
Defense counsel scheduled another meeting on June 9, 2017, to
review additional material. (Id.). The court does
not know whether additional documents were reviewed at that
essentially argues that the court should remove the
'sensitive materials' designation from the 900 pages
of materials at issue so that he can keep them in his
possession to review. (Doc. 49 at 2). He argues this is
necessary because of the number of documents and because it
is difficult for him to review the documents while shackled.
He also argues that the designation is misplaced because the
search warrants are for his storage containers, and he knows
the named witness. (Id. at 3-4).
United States argues that the documents contain information
provided by the informant and named witness, detailing their
statements and aid to police. (Doc. 53 at 5). In other words,
the location is not what makes the documents sensitive.
(Id.). The United States also argues that regardless
of whether Tetzlaff knows a witness, the search warrants and
reports detail how the witnesses assisted the police, so
dissemination could place them in danger. (Id. at
8). Finally, the United States argues that the substance of
the documents allow them to be reviewed in a timely manner.
(Id. at 6).
Rule CR 16.4(a) is designed to permit a party producing
discovery in a criminal action-primarily the United States-to
prevent documents from being copied and distributed by
persons other than defense counsel and the defendant. The
rule requires the party designating the information as
sensitive to "set[ ] forth the reasons why such
protections are warranted." L.R. CR. 16.4(a). According
to the rule, in relevant part, once the "sensitive
material' designation has been made, "access to
[the] documents shall be limited to" the
defendant and his attorney, and the documents shall
not be left in the defendant's possession without
defense counsel present. L.R. CR. 16.4(b)(1)(A), (D)
threshold issue, according to the plain letter of the rule,
the restrictions on the documents are mandatory once the
'sensitive materials' designation has been made.
Nothing in the rule provides the court with the discretion to
remove the 'sensitive materials' designation, nor has
Tetzlaff pointed to any authority allowing removal.
s arguments are also unpersuasive. Tetzlaff s argument that
the 'sensitive materials' designation is misplaced
because his property is involved and he knows the named
witness fails. Search warrants often involve the
defendant's property whether it be his or her car, house,
garage, or business. Rule 16.4(a) applies to protect
personal information, identifiers, or financial
information. Generally, the location seems to be of minimal
importance, and as the United States points out, it is of
minimal importance here.
respect to the named witness, the United States points out
that although Tetzlaff may already know much of her personal
information, possessing the search warrant with the ability
to disseminate it could jeopardize the witness's safety.
The same is true for the confidential informant, in the event
the informant's name is eventually released.
considering that the bulk of the sensitive materials are
search warrants which contain numerous pages of repetitive
legalese and qualifying information, as well as the fact that
defense counsel originally thought three hours was sufficient
time to go over the materials, the court finds that the time
needed to review the materials is not extensive. In the event
defense counsel ...