United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE BRUCE G. MACDONALD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending before the Court is Defendants Natalie Hoffman, Oona
Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick's
(collectively “Defendants”) Motion to Compel
(Doc. 43). The Government has filed its response, and
Defendants have replied. Govt.'s Response in Opposition
to Defs.' Mot. to Compel (Doc. 50); Defs.' Reply in
Support of Defs.' Mot. to Compel (Doc. 51). Defendant
Natalie Renee Hoffman is charged with one (1) count of
operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area, and all
Defendants are charged with one (1) count of entering a
national wildlife refuge without a permit. Information (Doc.
April 17, 2018, oral argument was held before Magistrate
Judge Macdonald regarding the motion. Minute Entry 4/17/2018
(Doc. 52). The Court took the matter under advisement.
Subsequent to the hearing Defendant Oona Holcomb filed a
Notice of Declaration in Support of Religious Freedom (Doc.
55). In response, the Government filed a Motion to Strike
Defendant's Notice of Declaration (Doc. 56). Defendants
Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick also filed a
Notices of Declaration in Support of Religious Freedom (Docs.
57 & 61). The Government filed Motions to Strike
Defendant's Notice of Declaration (Doc. 59 & 63) for
Defendants Huse and Orozco-McCormick, as well. Defendants
Holcomb, Huse, and Orozco-McCormick responded to the
Government's motion to strike their respective
affidavits. (Docs. 60 & 66). Accordingly, the motions are
ripe for adjudication.
Court outlined the relevant factual background in its May 2,
2018 Order (Doc. 62), but reiterates it here for consistency.
August 13, 2017 Federal Wildlife Canine Officer
(“FWCO”) M. West received information of
individuals in an area called Charlie Bell Pass/Well of the
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Govt.'s Aff.
(Doc. 17) at 2. At approximately 11:40 a.m., FWCO West
received photographs clearly showing a non-government vehicle
being operated in a designated wilderness area of Charlie
Bell Pass/Well which is located on the Cabeza Prieta National
Wildlife Refuge. Id. Upon arrival at Charlie Bell
Pass, FWCO West observed a green, Ford F150 unattended and
legally parked off the roadway, and recorded the vehicle
license plate (AZ-BXL9057) and checked for a valid permit,
which is to be displayed on the dash, but was not.
Id. FWCO observed items in the green F-150
(e.g., water jugs, cans of beans, etc.), as well as
discovered a stash of similar items. Id. at 3.
West observed a white, Dodge truck, Arizona vehicle license
plate BRZ0504 parked off the roadway approximate 0.8 miles
west of Charlie Bell Well. Id. Again, the truck did
not have a valid permit displayed, and FWCO observed green
plastic crates containing water, etc. Id.
approximately 2:40 p.m., FWCO West observed four (4)
individuals walking out of the desert headed for the white
truck. Govt.'s Aff. (Doc. 17) at 4. None of the
individuals had a permit, and admitted to leaving the food
and water at Charlie Bell Well, but stated that they left it
there to lighten their truck while driving on rough roads,
and meant to pick it up when they left. Id.
argument, counsel for Defendants confirmed that they had not
sought to obtain permits prior to the August 13, 2017
incident. Hr'g Tr. 4/17/2018 (Doc. 58) at 14:15-15:18.
seek an order compelling the Government to provide discovery
that they allege is relevant to the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act of 1993 (“RFRA”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000bb-1, their selective prosecution claim, an
entrapment by estoppel defense, and a necessity defense.
Defs.' Mot. to Compel (Doc. 43) at 4, 6, 8, 9.
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 16
16, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides,
“[u]pon 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 within the government's
possession, custody, or control and . . . the item is
material to preparing the defense.” Fed. R. Crim. P.
16(a)(1)(E)(i). “Materiality is a necessary
prerequisite to discovery.” United States v. USDC,
Central Dist. of Cal., Los Angeles, Cal., 717 F.2d 478,
480 (9th Cir. 1983) (citations omitted). “Materiality
is a ‘low threshold; it is satisfied so long as the
information ... would have helped' to prepare a defense.
United States v. Soto-Zuniga, 837 F.3d 992, 1003
(9th Cir. 2016) (quoting United States v.
Hernandez-Meza, 720 F.3d 760, 768 (9th Cir. 2013)).
However, “[m]ateriality means more than that the
evidence in question bears some abstract logical relationship
to the issues in the case. There must be some indication that
the pretrial disclosure of the disputed evidence would . .
enable the defendant significantly to alter the quantum of
proof in his favor.” United States v.
Maniktala, 934 F.2d 25, 28 (2d Cir. 1991) (citations
omitted). “An abstract logical relationship to the
issues in the case is not, however, sufficient to force the
production of discovery under rule 16.” United
States v. George, 786 F.Supp. 56, 58 (D.D.C. 1992)
(quotations and citations omitted). “The documents at
issue must play an important role in uncovering admissible
evidence, aiding witness preparation, corroborating testimony
or assisting impeachment or rebuttal.” Id.
(quotations and citations omitted).
Religious Freedom Restoration Act