GENE CARTER, Chief District Judge.
Appellants Charles Flynn, William Kenney, and Gary Neal were found guilty by a jury on a number of criminal charges stemming from a series of armed robberies that took place in New Hampshire. Appellants challenge their convictions on the basis of various pre-trial, trial, and post-trial rulings issued by the court as well as statements made by the Government. We affirm on all but two of the issues raised by Appellants.
The first of these issues involves various Jencks Act requests made by Appellant Flynn. We find that the record indicates the
At this point in the proceedings, we choose not to vacate the court's Jencks Act rulings or the order of restitution but instead remand to the district court for the limited purpose of making supplemental findings with regard to these two issues. In the interim, we will retain appellate jurisdiction so that we may review the court's augmented record and subsequent determinations.
Appellants were tried by a jury in the District of New Hampshire during the months of October and November of 1992. The evidence presented and believed by the jury demonstrated that Appellants were involved, in varying capacities, in carrying out five armed robberies over a five-month period beginning with the armed robbery of a supermarket and ending in armed robbery of the First New Hampshire Bank ("First N.H.").
Government's Consolidated Brief at 3-6.
Appellants were initially charged with three other co-conspirators, Bruce Raineri, Brian Raineri, and Richard Ferguson. These three men pled guilty and cooperated to varying extents with the Government. Several other alleged co-conspirators, including Arthur Cosgro and Thomas McQueeney, also provided evidence against Appellants.
The evidence presented during the thirty-one-day trial is sufficient to justify the following conclusions of fact. Appellant Charles Flynn, a/k/a "Chuckie," was the leader and organizer of the group of co-conspirators. Flynn scoped out robbery locations, devised the plans, and recruited others to commit or assist in the crimes. Appellant William Kenney participated as the gunman and shared in proceeds of four robberies planned by Flynn, excluding the Market Basket robbery. Kenney also assisted Flynn in surveilling armored cars that serviced various stores and banks which were prospective robbery sites. Appellant Gary Neal played a more limited role in the overall conspiracy (this is reflected by the fact that he was indicted on only four counts and found guilty on two counts limited to the bank robbery).
On defendants' motions at the close of the evidence, the court dismissed RICO Counts 1 and 2, finding the Government failed to demonstrate a sufficient continuity of offenses. The court also dismissed Counts 12, 13, and 23, all involving the Phantom Fireworks robbery. The jury then rendered its verdicts, finding Flynn guilty on all remaining charges against him except Counts 8, 9, and 21, involving the night deposit robbery of an employee of Abercrombie and Finch restaurant. The jury found Kenney guilty on all remaining counts against him except for the counts involving the Abercrombie and Finch robbery and found Neal guilty of being an accessory after the fact and money laundering, as alleged in Counts 30 and 31, but not guilty on count 3, alleging conspiracy to rob First N.H.
Appellants raise a litany of challenges against various rulings issued by the district court judge and statements made by the Government throughout the proceedings. The Court finds merit in Appellant Flynn's argument that both the Government and the district judge were operating under an improper legal standard in determining what statements qualified as Jencks Act material and should have been disclosed to the defense during trial. The Court also finds merit in Appellant Neal's argument that the court erred in ordering $266,500 in restitution against him for his role in the First N.H. robbery. These arguments will be treated first. The Court finds no merit in Appellants' remaining claims which will be discussed, in turn, in the order of joint challenges raised by Appellants followed by challenges
I. LEGAL STANDARD USED BY THE COURT AND GOVERNMENT IN DETERMINING WHAT EVIDENCE SHOULD BE DISCLOSED TO APPELLANT FLYNN
A. Brady Claims
Appellant Flynn has framed much of his argument on appeal in terms of a Brady violation. Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963) (holding that a prosecutor's suppression of evidence favorable to and requested by a defendant violates due process where the evidence is material to guilt or to punishment). Appellant points to statements in the record indicating that the Government attorney harbored an erroneously narrow view of what materials were exculpatory and should have been disclosed to the defense pursuant to Brady and its progeny. Flynn acknowledges that the Government provided certain disputed materials to the trial court for in camera review. However, he argues that the Government's erroneous view of what qualified as Brady, as a threshold matter, most likely resulted in the withholding of many other exculpatory materials from the court. He requests this Court to unseal the documents that were turned over, remand the case for further hearing in the district court, and order that the Government disclose all other Brady material in its possession.
A careful and thorough review of the record supports Appellant's assertion that the Government attorney misunderstood the reach of Brady.
B. Disclosure Under the Jencks Act
Appellant's other argument, that the Government attorney too narrowly construed the reach of the Jencks Act, has much more bite because the record indicates that the district judge adopted the Government's misinterpretation and ruled against several Jencks Act requests on an erroneous legal ground. Before discussing the legal error in detail, it is necessary to consider the purpose and provisions of the Act.
The Jencks Act establishes procedures whereby a criminal defendant may exercise his limited right to obtain previous statements made by government witnesses that are in possession of the United States Government to be used for impeachment purposes. 18 U.S.C. § 3500. Subsections (a) and (b) of the Act provide that prior statements are not subject to disclosure until the witness has testified on direct examination and are available only to the extent that the statements relate "to the subject matter as to which the witness has testified." 18 U.S.C. §§ 3500(a) and (b). The Act further requires the defendant to make a motion for production. 18 U.S.C. § 3500(b). Subsection (e) defines "statements" subject to the Act as follows:
18 U.S.C. § 3500(e).
At issue in this case is the reach of subsections (e)(1) and (e)(2) which first came into dispute on the third day of trial. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3500(e)(1) and (e)(2). Appellant's counsel was conducting cross-examination of Laura MacPherson, a teller for First N.H. who had witnessed the bank robbery. MacPherson testified that while she was being questioned by police at the scene of the crime, an officer was taking notes based on what she was saying. Appellant's counsel then called for a sidebar requesting that the Government turn over these notes pursuant to the Jencks Act:
Tr. (October 8, 1992) at 118, 121-22.
While the Government attorney mentioned "other recording," it is clear from a reading of the entire interchange that the court and Government attorney disagreed with counsel's argument that subsection (e)(2) of the Jencks Act encompasses oral statements made by witnesses that are written down by government agents as they are taking notes on the conversation, so long as such statements are substantially verbatim accounts. Further, the trial record is replete with statements by the court indicating that it viewed subsections (e)(1) and (e)(2) as limited to statements that are either adopted by a witness or recorded through stenographic or some kind of mechanical means.
Id. 360 U.S. at 352-53, 79 S.Ct. at 1224-25.
In United States v. Newton, 891 F.2d 944, 953-54 (1st Cir.1989), this Court rejected an argument that the district court erred by not conducting an inquiry into whether disputed notes were "substantially verbatim" statements by the witness pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3500(e)(2). We rejected the argument on two grounds: first because Appellant failed to make a motion on the basis of that subsection to the court below and, second, there was no testimony in the record to indicate that "the agent [had been] recording the exact words of the witness." Id. at 954. In this case, however, Appellant's counsel elicited from a number of witnesses that agents had been taking notes as the witnesses were making statements; at sidebars, counsel specifically cited (e)(2) as the basis for his Jencks Act motions; and he registered, on the record, his disagreement with the court's and the Government's interpretation of the statute.
Appellant clearly raised this issue to the court below and on appeal. After examining the record, we find that the district judge likely ruled against a number of Appellant's Jencks Act requests on an erroneous legal
On remand, the district court should hold an evidentiary hearing and report its findings back to us within ninety (90) days. The hearing should be limited to determining whether Appellant Flynn's motions for production, which were denied on the basis of the erroneous legal ground identified in this opinion, should have been granted, and documents produced, under the Jencks Act. We intimate no view on whether disclosure of any of these materials was required. The district court should conduct this hearing, applying the legal standards articulated in this opinion and limited to examining whether the disputed materials contain substantially verbatim recitals of witness statements as defined under subsection (e)(2). If the court determines that the materials in question do not contain producible statements or that the nondisclosure of certain statements, while legal error, was harmless, it should supplement the record by setting forth its findings and explaining why a new trial is not required. If, on the other hand, the court concludes that the Government should have been required to deliver certain materials, or portions of materials, pursuant to subsection (e)(2), and that the error of nondisclosure was not harmless, it should vacate the judgment of conviction and grant Appellant Flynn a new trial.
II. THE COURT'S ORDER OF $266,500 IN RESTITUTION AGAINST APPELLANT NEAL
Appellant Neal alone challenges the court's restitution order of $266,500
In cases where a defendant has been convicted of specific federal offenses, section 3663 of the VWPA authorizes a sentencing court to order, "in addition to or ... in lieu of any other penalty authorized by law, that the defendant make restitution to any victim of such offense." 18 U.S.C. § 3663(a). The following section, 18 U.S.C. § 3664(a), directs the court to consider a number of factors, including loss sustained by the victim as a result of the offense, in determining the
In objecting to the restitutionary award in proceedings below, Neal argued that he was compensated no more than $5000 by the armed robbers for assisting them in evading law enforcement officials and laundered about $14,000 of the robbery proceeds by purchasing a getaway vehicle that was later confiscated by the Government. In an order dated February 22, 1993, the district court summarily dismissed Neal's argument that he should not be required to make restitution in an amount greater than the proceeds that he personally obtained from the robbery. Order (Docket No. 302) at 3-4. While the court was correct in its view that the VWPA does not require restitutionary awards to be limited to the amount obtained by the defendant, the record gives no indication of whether the court calculated, pursuant to Hughey, the portion of First N.H.'s losses that were actually caused by the specific criminal conduct forming the basis for Neal's convictions.
The VWPA, itself, does not require the court to make explicit findings to justify restitutionary awards. This Court has held "that a district judge need not make open-court findings on the statutory factors when issuing a restitution order so long as the record on appeal reveals that the judge made implicit findings or otherwise adequately evinced his consideration of those factors." Savoie, 985 F.2d at 618. The record here indicates that the court ordered the same restitutionary amounts of $266,500 against Appellants Neal, Kenney, and Flynn. The record also indicates that in connection with the bank robbery, Kenney and Flynn were convicted of conspiracy to rob First N.H., conspiracy and interference with commerce by threats or violence in violation of the Hobbs Act, and the use of firearms during crimes of violence. Kenney was also convicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in committing the bank robbery, and Flynn was convicted of money laundering. In comparison with Flynn and Kenney, Neal was convicted of being an accessory after the fact and money laundering. Given these factors indicating the disparate nature of Neal's criminal conduct, there is not an adequate basis in the record to determine whether the district judge found that the full amount of losses suffered by First N.H. was "caused by the specific conduct that [was] the basis of" Neal's convictions. Hughey, 495 U.S. at 413, 110 S.Ct. at 1981.
Such a determination was required in this case even though Congress amended certain provisions of the VWPA soon after the Hughey decision as part of the Crime Control Act of 1990. See Pub.L. No. 101-647, § 2509, 104 Stat. 4789, 4863 (1990). One of the amended subsections, codified at 18 U.S.C. section 3663(a)(2), expanded the definition of "victim" for purposes of restitution, providing in pertinent part that:
18 U.S.C. section 3663(a)(2) (emphasis added). This broadening of the definition of "victim" appears to apply to cases involving mail fraud, racketeering, or other federal crimes that require proof of a scheme, conspiracy, or pattern of criminal conduct. This Court faced such a case in U.S. v. Cronin, 990 F.2d 663 (1st Cir.1993) and decided that where defendants had committed various mail fraud offenses prior to enactment of section 3663(a)(2), restitution should be limited to the amounts alleged in the specific counts on which each defendant was found
While the bank robbery alleged in the indictment in this case occurred subsequent to the VWPA amendments, section 3663(a)(2) does not appear to support the restitutionary award entered against Appellant Neal. Neal was convicted of money laundering and of being an accessory after the fact. Neither of these offenses involves proof of a scheme, conspiracy or pattern of criminal activity as an element. See 18 U.S.C. section 1956 (laundering of monetary instruments) and 18 U.S.C. section 3 (accessory after the fact).
Accordingly, we remand the case with instructions that the court hold a hearing to determine whether the full amount of damages suffered by First N.H. are attributable to the conduct underlying Appellant's convictions.
III. JOINT CHALLENGES
A. The Court's Failure to Define Reasonable Doubt
Appellants Flynn, Kenney, and Neal argue that the court's jury instructions, which failed to define the term "reasonable doubt" and used the phrase "by medium of admissible evidence,"
This Court has clearly held that "an instruction which uses the words reasonable doubt without further definition adequately apprises the jury of the proper burden of proof," so long as the phrase is not buried as an aside. United States v. Olmstead, 832 F.2d 642, 646 (1st Cir.1987), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1009, 108 S.Ct. 1739, 100 L.Ed.2d 202 (1988). This Court is satisfied that the instructions rendered in this case fully satisfy constitutional requirements and comply with Olmstead.
Appellants ask the Court to reconsider its holding in Olmstead in light of recent Supreme Court decisions. The opinions cited by Appellants, however, do nothing more than provide support for Olmstead. The cases all involve judicial attempts to define reasonable doubt and recognize that attempts to imbue the phrase with exact definition are fraught with pitfalls. See, e.g., Victor v. Nebraska, ___ U.S. ___, 114 S.Ct. 1239, 127 L.Ed.2d 583 (1994) (holding that instructions, taken as a whole, correctly conveyed the concept of reasonable doubt despite the use of such terms as "moral evidence", "moral certainty," and "substantial doubt"); Sullivan v. Louisiana, ___ U.S. ___, 113 S.Ct. 2078, 124 L.Ed.2d 182 (1993) (holding that a constitutionally deficient instruction defining reasonable doubt cannot be harmless error); Cage v. Louisiana, 498 U.S. 39, 41, 111 S.Ct. 328, 329, 112 L.Ed.2d 339 (1990) (holding that a defendant's due-process rights were violated where a judge instructed jurors that reasonable doubt was equivalent to a "grave uncertainty" and an "actual substantial doubt" and that jurors could convict if morally certain of a defendant's guilt).
In Victor v. Nebraska, ___ U.S. at ___, 114 S.Ct. at 1248, Justice O'Connor noted that the court did not condone the use of such terms as "moral certainty" in defining reasonable doubt but went on to find that the instructions placed the terms in a context correctly conveying the quantum of proof necessary for a finding of guilt. She also noted that:
Victor, ___ U.S. at ___, 114 S.Ct. at 1243.
Because we find that nothing in the Supreme Court cases cited by Appellants brings into question the holding in the Olmstead case, we affirm the district court's instructions.
B. Sufficiency of Evidence Supporting Guilty Verdicts of Flynn and Kenney on Counts Involving the Dress Barn Robbery
Appellants Flynn and Kenney challenge the sufficiency of the evidence supporting their guilty verdicts on Counts 10, 11, and 22, involving the robbery of a Dress Barn employee while she attempted to deposit about $763 into a night deposit box. Counts 10 and 11 alleged that Flynn and Kenney conspired and interfered with commerce by threats or violence in committing the Dress Barn robbery in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951. Count 22 involved the use and carriage of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1).
In reviewing a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim, the Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the Government, deferring to the jury's verdict if the evidence can support varying interpretations, at least one of which is consistent with the defendant's guilt. United States v. Browne, 891 F.2d 389, 393 (1st Cir.1989). Viewed in this light, the evidence must be of such a quantum that a reasonable trier of fact could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but the evidence need not compel such a finding. Id.
As the basis for their challenge, Appellants point primarily to inconsistencies in identification testimony between the bank employee and co-conspirator Thomas McQueeny. The bank employee testified that the robber was wearing a white styrofoam woodworker's mask that stood out from his face and that he was wearing a Patagonia jacket and a pair of jeans. McQueeney, on the other hand, indicated that Kenney was wearing a white painter's mask made of cloth and a blue runner's suit.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the Government, the identification testimony supports the jury's guilty verdict. McQueeney indicated that he dropped Kenney off with a white painter's mask and a gun near the scene of the robbery; the employee testified that her assailant was wearing a white carpenter's mask and carrying a gun similar to Government Exhibit 42. McQueeney also supplied evidence of conspiracy, testifying that Flynn watched as Kenney tried on the mask, directed McQueeney to drop Kenney off near First National Bank, and argued with Kenney the following morning for targeting women with only $600. Kenney later admitted to co-conspirator Ferguson that he robbed some night depositories. While the evidence may not compel guilty verdicts, this Court finds that it is of a sufficient quantum that a reasonable trier of fact could find Appellants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on the counts involving the Dress Barn robbery. Hence, the Court affirms Flynn's and Kenney's convictions on Counts 10, 11, and 22.
C. The Court's Denial of Flynn's and Kenney's Motions to Set Aside Verdicts and to Grant New Trial
Appellants Flynn and Kenney argue that the district court abused its discretion by denying their motions to set aside verdicts and to grant a new trial, arguing that joinder
When severance has been refused, appellants shoulder the burden of making a strong showing of prejudice that the joinder of offenses or defendants served to deprive them of a fair trial. Id.; Natanel, 938 F.2d at 308 (citing United States v. Porter, 764 F.2d 1, 12 (1st Cir.1985)). Appellants argue that prejudice resulted because the jury was exposed to certain evidence that would otherwise have been inadmissible against them without the RICO counts. They specifically point to testimony by officials of the New Hampshire State Police who observed them on numerous occasions surveilling armored trucks in preparation for the First N.H. robbery. Appellants argue that this testimony would not have been admitted but for the RICO counts and that it prejudiced the jury in considering the remaining counts against them. The admissibility of the surveillance testimony, however, was not limited to the RICO counts, as Appellants argue, but was relevant to Counts 3, 4, 5, 16, 17, 18, and 19, involving conspiracy to commit bank robbery and other bank robbery charges. Appellants also give no clear indication, other than conclusory statements, of how this surveillance testimony was so material and significant as to make a prejudicial finding likely on other unrelated counts.
Appellants make a more general "spill-over" argument, asserting that evidence admitted at trial relating to the whole series of robberies linked by the RICO counts made it impossible for the jury to consider each defendant and each offense separately. "There is always some prejudice in any trial where more than one offense or offender are tried together — but such `garden variety' prejudice, in and of itself, will not suffice." United States v. Boylan, 898 F.2d 230, 246 (1st Cir.1990). Here, the district court sought to minimize the possibility of prejudice by giving limiting instructions in the course of trial and instructing the jury at the beginning and end of the closing charge to consider the evidence against each defendant separately
Finding no abuse of discretion, the Court affirms the trial court's denial of Appellants' motions to set aside the verdicts and for a new trial.
IV. CHALLENGES RAISED SEPARATELY BY FLYNN
A. The Court's Denial of Motion for Continuance
Appellant Flynn challenges the court's denial of his motion for continuance of trial to enable him to seek retained counsel, filed on September 25, 1992, as well as the court's refusal of his motion to reconsider, filed on the first day of trial, October 5, 1992. This Court will review the denial of Flynn's motion for abuse of discretion. United States v. Machor, 879 F.2d 945, 952 (1st Cir.1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1081, 110 S.Ct. 1138, 107 L.Ed.2d 1043, 493 U.S. 1094, 110 S.Ct. 1167, 107 L.Ed.2d 1070 (1990).
The record indicates that Flynn first requested, and was granted, the right to seek retained counsel on May 28, 1992, after withdrawing his motion to represent himself pro se. Flynn failed to retain counsel in the time allotted and on June 18, appeared before a magistrate judge in a hearing on the Government's motion to have counsel appointed for him. Flynn told the magistrate that he still desired to seek retained counsel and mentioned the names of two possible lawyers. The magistrate granted the Government's motion and appointed as Flynn's counsel Attorney Lawrence Gillis, who entered his appearance on July 6, 1992. This action by the court in no way interfered with Flynn's continued efforts to retain outside counsel.
On September 1, 1992, the district court granted Flynn's motion for continuance of trial, giving him one deadline, which lapsed, and extending it again until September 18 to enable Flynn to retain private counsel.
September 28, 1992, Order (Docket No. 187) at 3-4. Trial continued as scheduled, beginning on October 5, 1992, except that Attorney Gillis withdrew and Attorney Wilson took over as Flynn's retained counsel.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to assistance of counsel, which includes the right to counsel of one's choice. United States v. Hallock, 941 F.2d 36, 44 (1st Cir.1991). While the right to effective assistance is absolute, this Court has long held that a defendant's right to choose a particular counsel must be weighed against administration-of-justice
In light of these factors, this Court does not find that the district court abused its discretion in denying Flynn's motion for continuance. In essence, Flynn had nearly four months to secure private counsel — from May 28, 1992, until September 18, 1992. The trial date was continued for one month at his behest; yet he continually failed to meet deadlines set by the court. Given these circumstances, the Court affirms the denial of Flynn's belated September 25 motion for continuance and his later motion to reconsider.
B. The Court's Admission of Bank Employee's Testimony and Its Denial of Appellant's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal on Bank Robbery Counts
Appellant argues that the district court improperly admitted the testimony of bank employee Debbie Haskins, who testified with respect to First N.H.'s federally insured status and its involvement in interstate commerce. Appellant also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of the jury's guilty verdicts on the bank robbery counts.
Appellant first argues that Haskins' testimony should not have been admitted because she lacked personal knowledge of the bank's FDIC status or its involvement in interstate commerce as required by Fed.R.Evid. 602 (witness may not testify to a matter without evidence that she had "personal knowledge of the matter"). In particular, Appellant argues that Haskins, who worked as an insurance compliance specialist for First N.H., did not commence her employment until a month after the robbery, so her testimony was based on records that she was exposed to in the course of her later employment and not on knowledge formed at the time of the robbery.
Evidence is inadmissible under Rule 602 "only if in the proper exercise of the trial court's discretion it finds that the witness could not have actually perceived or observed that which he testified to." Hallquist v. Local 276, Plumbers & Pipefitters Union, 843 F.2d 18, 24 (1st Cir.1988). Personal knowledge can include "inferences and opinions, so long as they are grounded in personal observation and experience." United States v. Doe, 960 F.2d 221, 223 (1st Cir. 1992). Haskins testified that her job brought her into contact with records, including certificates provided by the FDIC, which indicated that the Stratham, New Hampshire branch of First N.H. was federally insured, although she had not personally seen such a certificate posted at the branch on the date of the robbery. She also testified that bank records to which she was exposed indicated that the branch had customers in Vermont and Massachusetts and a correspondent banking account in Massachusetts. This Court finds that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting Haskins' testimony because it was limited to information that she actually perceived or observed as an insurance compliance specialist and did not attest to circumstances beyond her personal knowledge.
Appellant also argues that the guilty verdicts on the bank robbery counts were not supported by a sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the elements of FDIC insurance status and involvement in interstate
Even under the less rigorous standard governing sufficiency-of-the-evidence claims, however, we affirm the convictions. The evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the Government, could have persuaded a rational trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt that First N.H. was FDIC-insured and involved in interstate commerce.
C. The Court's Denial of Motion to Sever Count 19 Charging Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon
Appellant challenges the district court's denial of his motion to sever Count 19 as an abuse of discretion, arguing that the inclusion of his prior felony history resulted in clear prejudice and denied him a fair trial. Appellant moved for severance under Fed. R.Crim.P. 14, which provides, in part, that if it appears a defendant may be prejudiced by joinder of offenses, the court may "order an election of separate trials of counts, grant a severance of defendants or provide whatever other relief justice requires...." Trial courts are granted discretion under Rule 14 to take whatever steps are deemed necessary to minimize prejudice; "[s]everance is only one remedy — and certainly the most extreme — in the federal courts' remedial arsenal." United States v. Daniels, 770 F.2d 1111, 1120 (D.C.Cir.1985).
Here the record indicates that in ruling on Flynn's motion on the first day of trial, the court declined severance but decided not to disclose the details of Flynn's prior conviction(s) in reading Count 19 to the jury. Flynn's counsel later indicated that he would stipulate to his client being a convicted felon and stipulate that the court could instruct the jury in that regard. In its final instructions to the jury, the court indicated that the parties had stipulated to the fact of the prior conviction(s), without detailing the nature of the criminal acts at issue in them.
The Court finds that the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding not to sever Count 19 and in opting instead to limit the jury's exposure to the details of Flynn's prior criminal history.
D. Statements Made During Prosecutor's Closing Argument
Appellant asserts that the Government prosecutor made improper comments during his closing argument in which he allegedly injected his personal opinion and referred to facts outside the record regarding the truthfulness of Government witnesses. This Court has long held that a prosecutor may not place the prestige of the government behind a witness by making personal assurances about the witness' credibility nor indicate that facts not before the jury support the testimony. See, e.g., United States v. Martin, 815 F.2d 818, 821-22 (1st Cir.1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 825, 108 S.Ct. 89, 98
Comment 2 was not the subject of contemporaneous objection and will be treated first. Absent plain error, the failure to object during the prosecutor's argument forecloses appellate review. United States v. Morales-Cartagena, 987 F.2d 849, 854 (1st Cir.1993) (stating that plain-error standard requires reversal of a conviction only if a "miscarriage of justice would otherwise result"). This Court does not find plain error. Other than the phrase, "Believe me," which appears to be an expression of personal opinion only if read out of the total context, the prosecutor's comment does not improperly vouch for the credibility of Government witnesses. The comment merely points out that the witnesses, telling the story as they remember it, have generated a number of inconsistencies in the record and that it is up to jury to resolve these issues.
The Court finds likewise that comment 1 falls within permissible boundaries. When read in context, the phrase "it seems to me" does not amount to improper vouching for the credibility of a Government witness because the comment is limited to the terms of the plea agreement. "It is not error to inform a jury of the contents of a plea agreement, nor is it improper for the government to call attention to a witness' motivation for testifying." United States v. Dockray, 943 F.2d 152, 156 (1st Cir.1991).
Appellant argues that in making comment 3, the prosecutor improperly interjected his personal opinion that Appellant was guilty and asserted that all other trial witnesses agreed with the Government's assessment. Appellant's interpretation of comment 3 is far-fetched. The most this Court
Finding no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, we need not reach the issue of whether the comments in question were likely to have prejudiced Appellant by altering the outcome of the case. United States v. Rodríguez-Estrada, 877 F.2d 153, 159 (1st Cir.1989).
V. CHALLENGES RAISED SEPARATELY BY KENNEY
A. The Court's Denial of Motion to Dismiss Indictment Under Interstate Agreement on Detainers
Appellant Kenney argues that the district court erred in refusing to dismiss his indictment under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, § 2, Art. IV, 18 U.S.C.App. ("IAD" or "Act"). The IAD establishes procedures for transfer of prisoners incarcerated in one jurisdiction to the temporary custody of another jurisdiction where criminal charges are pending. It sets time limits for trying prisoners transferred under its provisions, with the purpose of encouraging the "expeditious and orderly disposition" of outstanding charges. IAD, Art. I.
Kenney argues that the indictment should have been dismissed based on the following violations of the IAD:
Kenney failed to raise Articles IV(a) and IV(d) as a basis for his motion to dismiss below; hence, he has waived those arguments pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 12(b) and 12(f). We have considered whether these claims constitute plain error and have concluded that they do not.
Kenney did raise Art. IV(c) on several occasions as a basis for objecting to motions for continuances filed by codefendants and ultimately in a motion to dismiss his indictment, arguing that the court failed to try him within 120 days of his appearance in the jurisdiction of New Hampshire. Kenney was brought to the District of New Hampshire on May 7, 1992, and trial, pursuant to a strict application of the 120-day deadline, should have commenced on September 8, 1992.
In denying Kenney's motion to dismiss, the judge indicated that continuing the trial until October 5 did not violate the 120-day provision because the clock had been tolled for twenty-eight days, from August 4 through August 31, 1992, while the magistrate judge resolved pretrial motions filed by Kenney. The judge also ruled that delays attributable to the disposition of motions filed by other co-defendants constituted "good cause" under the IAD and were also excluded from the computation.
This Court has recently suggested that delay caused by a court's resolution of pending
Art. VI(a) of the IAD provides that the 120-day clock "shall be tolled whenever and for as long as the prisoner is unable to stand trial." This Court has generally interpreted this provision to allow for tolling during the time that it takes for the court to resolve matters raised by the defendant who is claiming rights under the IAD. Whiting, 28 F.3d at 1307-08; United States v. Walker, 924 F.2d 1, 5-6 (1st Cir.1991), United States v. Taylor, 861 F.2d 316, 321-22 (1st Cir. 1988). We have held out the possibility, however, that where a defendant timely advises the court that he or she is claiming protections under the IAD and the court takes more time than is necessary to resolve the defendant's pretrial motions, then the delay may not be fully excluded from the 120-day clock.
In this case, Kenney first informed the court on June 5 that he refused to waive any rights under the IAD in response to a Government motion relating to bail. On August 4, he filed seven pretrial motions but did not refer to his reliance on the IAD to notify the magistrate that an expedited decision was, perhaps, warranted. The Government submitted responses on August 14, and the magistrate ruled on the motions on August 31. Kenney informed the court that he was specifically relying on the 120-day trial provision on September 1, when he filed objections to motions by co-defendants seeking a continuance of the trial date.
In these circumstances, the Court finds that a 28-day delay in resolving defendant's own motions was not unreasonable and that after excluding this delay, trial was properly commenced within the 120-day deadline.
B. The Court's Admission into Evidence of Semi-Automatic Handgun
Appellant Kenney challenges the court's admission into evidence of Government exhibit 42, a .32 caliber semi-automatic handgun. Specifically, Kenney argues that the Government failed to introduce sufficient evidence that (1) the gun had not been altered subsequent to the crime and (2) the gun was the actual gun used in the crimes in question. We need not belabor the point because we find that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the handgun.
Federal Rule of Evidence 901(a) requires the trial court to determine if there is a "reasonable probability" that the evidence is what it is purported to be. Evidence before the court indicated that the gun had been stored in a garage for thirteen days. Even though the garage was used as a storage facility by several people, testimony at trial indicated that a co-conspirator's relative retrieved the handgun from the same place that it had been left by Kenney and Flynn. Considering the nature of the handgun, circumstances surrounding its preservation, and the scant likelihood of intermeddlers, the judge properly determined that it was in substantially the same condition.
The trial court also did not abuse its discretion in determining that there was a reasonable probability that the handgun was the same gun used in the robberies. Three co-conspirators identified the handgun, and a co-conspirator's relative identified the case in which the handgun was found and testified that she heard Flynn tell Kenney to hide the case in the garage. In addition, testimony by witnesses to the robberies described a gun matching the Government's exhibit.
VI. SEPARATE CHALLENGES RAISED BY APPELLANT NEAL
A. Sufficiency of Evidence to Support Guilty Verdict on Counts Alleging Accessory After The Fact and Money Laundering
Appellant Neal challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of the jury's guilty verdicts on Counts 30 and 31.
B. Court's Denial of Motion for Downward Adjustment of Base Offense Level
Neal challenges the district court's denial of his motion for a downward adjustment of his Base Offense Level pursuant to section 3B1.2(a) of the Sentencing Guidelines. U.S.S.G. § 3B1.2(a). That section of the Guidelines provides for a four-level reduction where the court determines that a defendant was a minimal participant in the offense for which he was convicted and is intended to cover only those defendants who are clearly the least culpable of those involved in the criminal conduct of the group. See U.S.S.G. § 3B1.2(a), comment nn. 1 & 2. Absent a mistake of law, a district court's finding as to whether a defendant was a minor or minimal participant will be reversed only if clearly erroneous. United States v. Brum, 948 F.2d 817 (1st Cir.1991).
Here, the court's determination was not clearly erroneous and we affirm. Neal mistakenly refers to the overall conspiracy encompassing five robberies as the benchmark for arguing that he played a minimal role. But section 3B1.2 focuses on the role of a defendant with respect to the offense(s) of which he was convicted. Here, Neal was convicted of money laundering and being an accessory after the fact. He was the only defendant indicted and convicted on the count of being an accessory after the fact and was indicted and convicted jointly with Flynn on the money laundering count. The facts support the court's determination that Neal did not play a minimal role with respect to the conduct alleged in either count.
Accordingly, the Court affirms the district court's rulings on all issues raised on appeal except the issue raised by Appellant Flynn regarding the court's denial of various motions for production of witness statements under the Jencks Act and the issue raised by Appellant Neal regarding the court's order of
With respect to Appellant Flynn's challenge, we remand the case for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether statements were improperly withheld from him during trial in violation of the Jencks Act and, if so, whether nondisclosure of such statements constituted harmless error. With respect to Appellant Neal's challenge, we remand the case so that the court may determine whether the full amount of damages suffered by First N.H. was caused by the criminal conduct underlying Appellant's convictions for money laundering and being an accessory after the fact. The court should report its findings and determinations back to us within ninety (90) days. We will retain appellate jurisdiction for the time being.
It is so ordered
APPENDIX I: LISTING OF JENCKS ACT RULINGS TO BE RECONSIDERED ON REMAND
Below find examples where the court indicated that it was denying Jencks Act requests on the ground that there was no showing that the witness had seen and adopted the statements pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3500(e)(1). The court failed to make the further inquiry, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3500(e)(2), of whether the notes or interview reports of government agents, requested by counsel, contained statements that were substantially verbatim recitals of a witness' prior statements. Rulings made pursuant to this erroneous standard include the following:
(1) After the Government conducted direct examination on Anita Ramsdell, a teller at First N.H., Appellant's counsel requested all Jencks material on the witness. The court indicated:
(2) While Appellant's counsel was conducting cross-examination upon Richard Ferguson, a co-conspirator who pled guilty and cooperated with the Government, Ferguson testified that he met with Government attorneys Patrick Walsh and Robert Veiga and someone from the FBI on at least two different occasions and that Walsh was probably taking notes. Counsel asked for a sidebar:
(3) The court denied production of Jencks material on witness Linda Sherouse who worked at the Dress Barn retail store and was victim of a night deposit robbery. When Sherouse was testifying on direct examination with respect to the gun used by the robber, counsel asked for a side bar:
(4) Other examples where the court may have used an erroneous legal ground in denying Jencks requests include a request for Jencks material on Douglas Scamman. Scamman is a dairy farmer who identified Appellant Flynn in court as one of several men whom he observed on various occasions loitering near a field that was allegedly used by the armed robbers to reach and escape from First N.H. Counsel asked the court to order production of Jencks or Brady material with respect to statements made by Scamman that might be included in a report filed by a Sergeant Forbes. The court denied the request. Tr. (October 19, 1992) at 171-73.
Tr. (October 19, 1992) at 115. In a second incident, the Government attorney stated that:
Tr. (October 20, 1992) at 77.
These statements reflect a misunderstanding on the Government's part of the Brady rule. The Supreme Court has clearly stated that impeachment evidence may well qualify as Brady material. United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 676, 105 S.Ct. 3375, 3380, 87 L.Ed.2d 481 (1985); Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 154, 92 S.Ct. 763, 766, 31 L.Ed.2d 104 (1972). As the Court explained in Giglio:
Giglio, 405 U.S. at 154, 92 S.Ct. at 766.
The significance of the Government's failure to appreciate the nature of exculpatory evidence under Brady is demonstrated by its evaluation of materials related to the witness James Fitzpatrick, who was testifying about a robbery of his home. Tr. (October 28, 1992) at 115. The court reviewed these materials, which the Government had claimed did not fall under Brady, and disclosed them to the defense because it found that the materials contained exculpatory evidence. Id. at 121. The defense was able to use the materials quite effectively in the cross-examination of Fitzpatrick. Id. at 123-24 and 126-44.
Palermo, 360 U.S. at 352-53, 79 S.Ct. at 1224-25.
The court then concluded its instructions as follows:
Appellants argue that the trial court's instructions led jurors to interpret "medium" along the lines of the first definition. We note that during the Rule 30 sidebar regarding objections to the instructions, Appellants did not request that the district court clarify the sense in which it used the word "medium." In addition, we find that a reasonable juror would have interpreted "medium" in accordance with the second definition where the judge used "beyond a reasonable doubt" in the same sentence and made clear that the latter standard represented the Government's burden of proof:
The Court will note only that initial joinder is generally held to be proper where, as here, the indictment includes RICO counts that link all defendants to the conspiracy, United States v. Zannino, 895 F.2d 1, 16 (1st Cir.1990), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1082, 110 S.Ct. 1814, 108 L.Ed.2d 944 (1990), and "[embrace] all of the acts and transactions upon which the other ... counts [are] based." United States v. Boylan, 898 F.2d 230, 245 (1st Cir.1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 849, 111 S.Ct. 139, 112 L.Ed.2d 106 (1990) (quoting United States v. Tashjian, 660 F.2d 829, 833 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1102, 102 S.Ct. 681, 70 L.Ed.2d 646 (1981)).
Count 31, alleging money laundering in violation of title 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant knew that: