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United States of America v. Trace Rae Thoms & Jennifer Anne Thoms

April 28, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TRACE RAE THOMS & JENNIFER ANNE THOMS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John W. Sedwick United States District Judge

ORDER AND OPINION

[Re: Motion at Docket 192]

I. MOTION PRESENTED

At docket 192, the United States of America ("the government") moves for reconsideration of the order at docket 186, which rejected the report and recommendation at docket 174 and granted the defendants' motion to suppress at docket 57.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Federal Rule 59(e), the court may "reconsider and amend a previous order."*fn1 A motion under Rule 59(e) "should not be granted, absent highly unusual circumstances, unless the district court is presented with newly discovered evidence, committed clear error, or if there is an intervening change in the controlling law."*fn2

III. DISCUSSION

A. The Government's Motion Is Not In Compliance With the Local Rules

Local Rule 59.1(c) limits a motion for reconsideration to five pages.*fn3 The present motion is ten pages. Despite its deficiency, the court has decided to consider the government's motion in its entirety to avoid delay.

B. A De Novo Evidentiary Hearing Was Not Required

Section 636(b)(1)(B) of Title 28 provides that "a judge may . . . designate a magistrate judge to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition, by a judge of the court."*fn4 Section 636(b) also provides as follows:

[a] judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.*fn5

The government argues that the court was required to conduct its own de novo evidentiary hearing prior to rejecting Magistrate Judge Roberts' report and recommendation.*fn6 In support of its contention, the government cites United States v. Bergera*fn7 and United States v. Ridgway.*fn8 Neither case requires an additional hearing in the circumstances of this case.

In Bergera, the magistrate judge recommended granting the defendants' motion to suppress.*fn9 The district judge reversed the magistrate and denied the motion.*fn10 The Ninth Circuit determined that "[i]f . . . [a] district court chooses to reject the recommendation of the magistrate judge, it must itself hear the testimony and see the evidence before deciding the motion."*fn11 The court reasoned that a "defendant is entitled to the assurance that important factual conclusions will be drawn from the testimony and other evidence itself. That assurance is provided if the district court decides the motion in accordance with the recommendations of [the magistrate judge] . . . [b]ut . . . ...


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