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United States v. Goodman

United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division

November 19, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLAN ROY GOODMAN, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Donald W. Molloy, District Judge United States District Court

         On October 3, 2019, Defendant Allan Roy Goodman was indicted on seven felony counts related to the possession of firearms and the possession and distribution of methamphetamine and heroin. (Doc. 14.) Trial is set for December 16, 2019, at the Russell Smith Federal Courthouse, Missoula, Montana. (Doc. 24.) Goodman has four motions pending before the Court: motion to change venue, (Doc. 25), motion for information on cooperating witnesses, (Doc. 29), motion for Henthorn materials, (Doc. 31), and motion for an "ends of justice" continuance, (Doc. 27). They are addressed in turn.

         I. Venue

         Goodman seeks a change of venue in light of the pretrial publicity he received at the time he changed his plea. (Doc. 25.) "Because a criminal defendant has the right to an impartial jury, a court must grant a motion to change venue if prejudicial pretrial publicity makes it impossible to seat an impartial jury." Daniels v. Woodford, 428 F.3d 1181, 1210 (9th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted); c.f. Fed. R. Crim. P. 21(a) (requiring transfer "to another district if the court is satisfied that so great a prejudice against the defendant exists in the transferring district that the defendant cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial there"). However, "[p]rominence does not necessarily produce prejudice, and juror impartiality . . . does not require ignorance." Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. 358, 381 (2010). Thus, a presumption of prejudice only attaches in "extreme cases." Id. "Prejudice is presumed when the adverse publicity is so pervasive and inflammatory that the jurors cannot be believed when they assert that they can be impartial." United States v. Croft, 124F.3d 1109, 1115 (9th Cir. 1997). Goodman has not made such a showing here.

         In support of his motion, Goodman presents a single story produced by NBC Montana. (See Doc. 26-1.) He argues that the story exaggerates the amount of drugs he was selling, contains "a litany of accusations from untrustworthy confidential informants," and misstates his previous convictions. (Doc. 26 at 3.) He further asserts that such news stories are likely to be broadcast again. (Id.) But, contrary to Goodman's characterization, this single article contains "[n]o evidence of the smoking-gun variety [that would] invite[] prejudgment of his culpability." Skilling, 561 U.S. at 383. And, the possibility of any potential bias based on this article, or those like it, can be addressed in voir dire. See Mu 'Min v. Virginia, 500 U.S. 415, 426-27 (1991) (emphasizing "the wide discretion granted to the trial court in conducting voir dire in the area of pretrial publicity"). Goodman's motion to change venue is therefore denied.

         II. Cooperating Witnesses

         Goodman further seeks a wide range of information on cooperating witnesses in the case. (Doc. 29.) The United States' discovery obligations in criminal cases are governed by (1) the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); (2) Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure; and (3) the Jencks Act.

         A. Brady v. Maryland

         The due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Brady and its progeny, require the prosecution to disclose exculpatory evidence that "is material either to guilt or to punishment." 373 U.S. at 87. Evidence is material when "there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different." United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 682 (1985). "A 'reasonable probability' is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Id. The inquiry considers nondisclosed evidence "collectively, not item by item." Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419, 436 (1995). Brady applies to impeachment and other evidence relevant to the credibility of government witnesses. Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 154(1972).

         The government must disclose Brady information even absent a discovery request by the defendant. United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 108 (1976). The obligation is not excused because a prosecutor is unaware of exculpatory evidence; rather, "the individual prosecutor has a duty to learn of any favorable evidence known to the others acting on the government's behalf in the case, including the police." Kyles, 514 U.S. at 437.

         B. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16

         "There is no general constitutional right to discovery in a criminal case, and Brady did not create one." Weatherford v. Bursey, 429 U.S. 545, 559 (1977). However, Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allows defendants to request certain information.[1] Goodman only superficially cites Rule 16, but Rule 16(a)(1)(E) provides:

Upon a defendant's request, the government must permit the defendant to inspect and to copy or photograph books, papers, documents, data, photographs, tangible objects, buildings or places, or copies or portions of any of these items, if the item is ...

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