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United States v. Lane

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

December 12, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
CHRISTIAN ADAM LANE, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ROBERT G. DOUMAR, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the following motions filed by Christian Adam Lane ("Defendant"): (1) Motion for a Bill of Particulars, ECF No. 31; (2) Motion to Sever, ECF No. 33; and (3) Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence of Other Bad Acts, ECF No. 35. Such motions are uncommon in this Court because the United States Attorney's Office has generally practiced an open file policy and provided ample access to discovery. However, the Court requests that Defendant notify the Court should this not be the case.

For the reasons set forth herein, the Court denies these motions. The Court will consider each motion in turn.

I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL HISTORY

On October 22, 2014, Defendant was charged in a four-count indictment with co-defendant Stephen Wheeler. ECF No. 7. Defendant was charged with all four counts: (1) Count One, Controlled Substances Conspiracy, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §846; (2) Count Two, Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1); (3) Count Three, Firearms Conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §924(o); and (4) Count Four, Possession of Firearms in Furtherance of, and Using and Carrying Firearms during and in relation to, one or more Drug Trafficking Crimes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §924(c)(1). Id.

On November 11, 2014, Defendant filed the instant motions: (1) Motion for Bill of Particulars, ECF No. 31; (2) Motion to Sever, ECF No. 33; and (3) Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence of Other Bad Acts, ECF No. 35. The Government responded to these motions on November 20, 2014. ECF Nos. 41, 42, 43. Defendant did not reply. The motions are now ripe for decision.

II. MOTION FOR A BILL OF PARTICULARS

The Court first addresses Defendant's Motion for a Bill of Particulars, ECF No. 31. Defendant's Motion involves all four counts of the indictment. With respect to Counts One and Three, Defendant requests that the Government identify with more specificity (1) the specific dates and times within May 2014 of the alleged conspiracy; (2) the number of co-conspirators; (3) the identities of his co-conspirators; (4) the locations of the conspiracy other than the Eastern District of Virginia; (5) the overt acts, statements, and events not listed in the indictment upon which the Government may rely at trial to prove that Defendant participated in the conspiracy; (6) the overt acts of Defendant in planning the conspiracy; (7) the overt acts of Defendant in carrying out the conspiracy; (8) the facts establishing Defendant's knowledge of the conspiracy; (9) the overt acts, statements, and events which the Government may rely on at trial to prove that Defendant conspired to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and marijuana; and (10) the overt acts, statements, and events which the Government may rely on at trial to prove Defendant knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully possessed, used, or carried firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.

With respect to Count Two, Defendant requests that the Government identify all dates and times within the month of May 2014 that Defendant opened, leased, rented, used, and maintained a residence for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, and using any controlled substance. Finally, with respect to Count Four, Defendant requests that the Government identify the number of firearms and the physical description, make, and model of each firearm that he allegedly possessed.

A. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(c)(1) requires than an indictment be "a plain, concise, and definite statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged" Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c)(1). The purpose of a bill of particulars is to "enable a defendant to obtain sufficient information on the nature of the charge against him so that he may prepare for trial, minimize the danger of surprise at trial, and enable him to plead his acquittal or conviction in bar of another prosecution for the same offense." United States v. Schembari, 484 F.2d 931, 934-35 (4th Cir. 1973). "A bill of particulars is not to be used to provide detailed disclosure of the government's evidence in advance of trial." United States v. Automated Medical Labs., Inc., 770 F.2d 399, 405 (4th Cir. 1985). Rather, a bill of particulars is limited to "essential information which may have been omitted from the indictment." United States v. Anderson, 481 F.2d 685, 690 (4th Cir. 1973) (internal quotations and citations omitted). "In determining whether to grant a bill of particulars, a court may also consider whether the requested information has been or will be provided by other means, such as pretrial discovery, voluntary disclosure by the government, or the indictment itself.'" United States v. Tsoa, No. 1:13cr137 (JCC), 2013 WL 3242700 at *3 (E.D. Va. June 25, 2013) (internal citation omitted). The disposition of a motion for a bill of particulars is addressed to the sound discretion of the district court. Anderson, 481 F.2d at 690.

B. Application

1. Counts One and Three

Count One charges Defendant with Controlled Substances Conspiracy, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. Specifically, Count One charges Defendant with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and marijuana; conspiracy to open, lease, rent, and maintain a place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, and using any controlled substance; and conspiracy to use a communication facility in committing felonies. ECF No. 7 at 1-2. Count Three charges Defendant with Firearms Conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(o). Specifically, Count Three charges Defendant with conspiracy to ...


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