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United States v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division

March 6, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ANDRE DURRELL WATSON

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. CHAMBERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Bill of Particulars. For reasons specified herein, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         I. Background

         On February 5, 2018, Defendant filed the present Motion for Bill of Particulars. ECF No. 149. In his motion, Defendant seeks six particulars in reference to the indictment filed in the present case. Id. The Government responded to Defendant's motion on February 20, 2018. ECF No. 172. In its response, the Government asserted that Defendant's requests 4, 5, and 6 should be denied as moot and that Defendant's requests 1, 2, and 3 should be denied.

         II. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Rule 7(f), a criminal defendant may move for a bill of particulars “to gain information on the nature of the charge[s] against him so as to enable him to prepare for trial, avoid or minimize the danger of surprise at time of trial and enable him to plead his acquittal or conviction in bar of another prosecution for the same offense . . .” United States v. Dulin, 410 F.2d 363, 364 (4th Cir. 1969). This right, however, is in no way unconditional. Id.

         “A bill of particulars is appropriate when an indictment fails to provide adequate information to allow a defendant to understand the charges and to avoid unfair surprise.” United States v. Gibson, 327 Fed.Appx. 391, at *1 (4th Cir. May 14, 2009) (unpublished opinion). An indictment will be considered insufficient where it fails to “give[ ] defense counsel adequate notice of the charges . . .” United States v. Am. Waste Fibers Co., Inc., 809 F.2d 1044, 1046 (4th Cir. 1987).

         III. Discussion

         a. Requests 4, 5, and 6

         As to Defendant's requests 4 and 6, the Court accepts as true the Government's assertions that the evidence Defendant seeks does not exist. Accordingly, as to requests 4 and 6, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion as moot.

         As to Defendant's request 5, the Court accepts the Government's assertion that it will furnish to Defendant exact timestamps of particular surveillance footage as Defendant requested. Accordingly, as to request 5, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion as moot. This leaves Defendant's requests 1, 2, and 3 ripe for the Court's consideration.

         b. Requests 1 and 2

         In request 1, Defendant asks the Court to direct the Government to provide him with the “earliest statement and/or event upon which the prosecution will rely to prove that the conspiracy existed.” ECF No. 149. The Government responds that it “is not required to allege particularity with regard to the precise beginning or end of a defendant's involvement in [a] conspiracy.” ECF No. 172, at 4.

         In request 2, Defendant asks the Court to direct the Government to provide him with “the nature of any and all statements and/or events, other than those already contained in the indictment, upon which the prosecution intends to rely to prove that the conspiracy existed.” ECF No. 149. In response, the Government asserts that it is not required to prove a specific agreement among co- conspirators nor is ...


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