United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
JACKSON L. KISER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
William R. Whyte was convicted by a jury on October 9, 2017,
of nine counts of various forms of fraud and false claims.
Following the verdict, Defendant moved to set aside the
verdict, arguing among other things that the government
improperly withheld Brady material. I reviewed the
evidence and denied his motion. He has now filed a motion for
reconsideration of that ruling, contending that I did not
fully appreciate the evidence he cited. His motion will be
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL
the jury's verdict, Defendant moved to set aside the
verdict, under Rule 29, or for a new trial, under Rule 33. In
support of his motion, Defendant cited an email and letter,
drafted by Frank Skinner after the trial, as evidence
that the government withheld evidence favorable to him that
was material to his guilt, in violation of Brady v.
Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). I reviewed the letter in
conjunction with Defendant's motion and found his
argument to be without merit. At the time, I stated Defendant
had failed to carry his burden to show that any material
evidence had been actually withheld. His speculation
that material evidence was withheld, I reasoned, was
insufficient to show that it actually was. Accordingly, I
denied his motion.
thereafter, Defendant filed the present motion for
reconsideration. In support of his motion, Defendant relies
on the same evidence he cited originally. He contends that I
overlooked, or failed to appropriately consider, evidence
included in his supplemental motion; specifically, the letter
from Frank Skinner to the government's attorneys. He
briefed his argument, the government responded, and Defendant
replied. I have considered all the evidence and argument, so
the matter is now ripe for disposition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motions for reconsideration are not expressly provided for in
the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, courts have long
recognized their propriety in the criminal setting. See,
e.g., United States v. Dieter, 429 U.S. 6, 8
n.3 (1976) (referring to treatment of motions to reconsider
in criminal cases as a “traditional and virtually
unquestioned practice”). In addressing such motions,
the civil rules regarding motions to reconsider set the
standards for consideration. See United States v.
Dickerson, 971 F.Supp. 1023, 1024 (E.D. Va. 1997),
rev'd on other grounds, 166 F.3d 667 (4th Cir.
1999), rev'd 530 U.S. 428 (2000). Because the
decision Defendant asks me to reconsider is my ruling on his
motion to set aside the jury's verdict, Civil Rule 59(e)
regarding motions to alter or amend the judgment is the
appropriate analog. Although that rule does not set forth
specific grounds for altering or amending a final judgment,
the Fourth Circuit recognizes three grounds for amending a
(1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law;
(2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or
(3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest
Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir.
1993). “Where the motion [for reconsideration] is
nothing more than a request that the district court change
its mind, however, it is not authorized . . . .”
United States v. Williams, 674 F.2d 310, 313 (4th
outset, Defendant's motion is nothing more “than a
request that the district court change its mind, ”
id., and is therefore improper. Moreover, Defendant
has made no effort whatsoever to argue that his motion
asserts any of the appropriate grounds for reconsideration.
See Hutchinson, 994 F.2d at 1081. On either issue,
his Motion is improperly before the Court. Nevertheless, even
reaching the merits of his Motion, I see no reason to alter
my original ruling.
takes issue with my failure to discuss Frank Skinner's
October 27, 2017, letter,  so I will endeavor to explain further
why I believe the government has not violated its obligations
under Brady. First and foremost, the Skinner letter
was received by the government attorney on October 27, 2017,
eighteen days after the jury returned its verdict.
Although the government attorneys were not as prompt as
possible in disclosing the letter, they nevertheless
forwarded the letter to Defendant's counsel on December
4, 2017, in advance of the hearing on Defendant's Motion
to Set Aside the Verdict. I fail to see, then, how the letter
was actually withheld. See United States ...