United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. MaCDONALD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending before the Court is Defendant Avila-Padilla's
Motion to Compel Disclosure (Doc. 66). This motion was joined
by Defendant Alegria. Notice of Joinder (Doc. 69). The
Government has filed its response and Defendant replied.
Govt.'s Response to Mot. to Compel Discl. (Doc. 80); Def.
Avila Padilla's Reply to Mot. to Compel Discl. (Doc. 91).
Defendant Cesar Ivan Avila-Padilla is charged with one (1)
count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
fentanyl. Defendant Santos Francisco Alegria is charged with
one (1) count of conspiracy to possess with intent to
distribute fentanyl and one (1) count of possession of
fentanyl with intent to distribute. Indictment (Doc. 35).
12, 2019, oral argument was held before Magistrate Judge
Macdonald regarding the motion. Minute Entry 6/12/2019 (Doc.
104). The Court took the matter under advisement, and
requested that the Government submit relevant unredacted
statements for in camera review. The motion is ripe
for adjudication. . . .
August 19, 2017, Defendant Alegria was the driver of a
light-colored Ford Equinox carrying Defendant Ortiz-Ramos and
the redacted Defendant. An Arizona Department of Safety
Trooper conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle. Once the car
came to a stop, Defendant Ortiz-Ramos and the other backseat
passenger fled on foot. Defendant Ortiz-Ramos was carrying a
backpack, which he abandoned in the desert. A search of the
abandoned backpack revealed approximately 20, 265 fake
OxyContin pills containing fentanyl. Defendant Alegria and
the front seat passenger remained in the vehicle until their
arrest. Inside the Equinox, agents discovered multiple
cellular telephones, as well as keys belonging to another
vehicle, which was registered to Defendant Avila-Padilla.
warrants were later obtained for all of the seized cellular
telephones, and the telephones were subsequently searched.
The telephones allegedly revealed connections and drug
trafficking related communications between the Defendants and
others related to drug trafficking. The evidence from the
telephones also allegedly establish Defendant Avila-Padilla
as an organizer who was directing his co-conspirators and
overseeing the distribution of fentanyl to Kentucky. On
September 19, 2018, the Defendants were indicted in this
cause of action.
parties have signed disclosure agreements, which permit more
extensive disclosure than that required under the law, and
the Government asserts that it has disclosed some evidence
that extends beyond the charges. On March 25, 2019, defense
counsel requested a number of disclosure items regarding the
warrant for the aerial surveillance of the ranch, the
statements of the four (4) individuals in the Equinox after
the traffic stop, and the standing issue-such as information
regarding Dennis Mullins, the Equinox's registration, the
informants' identities, and statements from the
informants and occupants of the Equinox. On March 29, 2019,
the Court set a “discovery/disclosure/notice/request
deadline” for April 12, 2019. On April 11, 2019, the
Defense sent a more formal and detailed request, which
included requests for the same information as before and, in
addition, materials related to the Miranda/Massiah
issue, such as manual and training materials for law
enforcement agents conducting interrogations. At the same
time, the Government disclosed a compact disc containing
recordings of the four (4) Equinox occupants' interviews,
information regarding the Equinox's registration, and
cellular telephone downloads. On April 19, 2019, the deadline
for the Government to respond to the remainder of
Defendant's disclosure requests lapsed.
motion originally sought disclosure related to the allegedly
illegal traffic stop, the sufficiency of his Miranda
waiver, and related to air surveillance. See Def.
Avila-Padilla's Mot. to Compel. Since the filing of the
motion to compel and related motions to suppress, Defendant
Avila-Padilla has withdrawn his motion to suppress related to
the traffic stop, and Defendant Alegria joined. See
Mot. to Withdraw (Doc. 98); Order 6/7/2019 (Doc. 99); Not. of
Joinder (Doc. 100). At oral argument, it was clarified that
Defendants seek the identity of the Confidential Informant
identified as Mr. “X, ” who gave statements on
March 26 & 27, 2018 and described in pages Bates No. 1-86
through 1-92. Defendants also seek “any and all
policies, manuals, training materials, or similar documents
produced by Homeland Security Investigations or the agencies
in charge of the Task Force Officers regarding (1) the
procedure for notifying an accused of his charges, (2) the
procedure for making a promise during an interrogation, and
(3) the procedure for communicating with non-English
speakers.” Defs.' Mot. to Compel (Doc. 66) at 7.
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).
government has a qualified privilege to withhold from
disclosure the identity of persons who furnish information of
violations of law to officers charged with enforcement of
that law.” United States v. Amador-Galvan, 9
F.3d 1414, 1417 (9th Cir. 1993) (citing Roviaro v. United
States, 353 U.S. 53, 59, 77 S.Ct. 623, 627, 1 L.Ed.2d
639 (1957)). “The purpose of the privilege is the
furtherance and protection of the public interest in
effective law enforcement.” Roviaro, 353 U.S.
at 59, 77 S.Ct. at 627. Furthermore, “[t]he privilege
recognizes the obligation of citizens to communicate ...