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United States of America v. Willie Wilson

September 13, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIE WILSON, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scott A. Oravec United States Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING MOTION TO DISMISS COUNTS 1, 2, 3, 5 AND 6 (Docket No. 188)

INTRODUCTION

Willie Wilson filed a motion to dismiss Counts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the indictment, Docket no. 188, due to insufficiency of evidence and an unduly vague indictment. Because the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do not permit a court to dismiss an otherwise valid indictment for insufficiency of evidence, I am recommending DENIAL of Wilson's motion to dismiss the charges against him.

LEGAL STANDARDS

Motion to Dismiss for Insufficiency of Evidence

A defendant may not challenge an otherwise adequate indictment solely for insufficiency of evidence.*fn1 Instead, a court should, for the purposes of a motion to dismiss, presume the truth of the allegations in the indictment.*fn2 A motion to dismiss should not consider evidence not on the face of the indictment.*fn3 Furthermore, dismissal of an indictment is a "drastic step" which is generally disfavored as a remedy.*fn4

Motion to Dismiss for Vagueness of the Indictment

Indictments must "be a plain, concise, and definite written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged..."*fn5 An indictment that sets forth the offense in the language of the statute itself and contains the necessary factual predicates is sufficient.*fn6 An indictment will withstand a motion to dismiss if it is sufficient (1) to enable the defendant to prepare his defense; (2) to ensure him that he is being prosecuted on the basis of the facts presented to the grand jury; (3) to enable him to plead double jeopardy; and (4) to inform the court of the alleged facts so that it can determine the sufficiency of the charge.*fn7

FACTS

Wilson was charged, along with several co-conspirators, under a seven-count indictment for a variety of federal offenses, including narcotics offenses, retaliating against a witness, and attempted murder. The witness, a confidential informant, was allegedly assaulted by Wilson. Wilson concedes in his brief that video given to the defense as part of discovery shows Wilson striking the informant. Wilson filed a motion requesting that the Court dismiss Counts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the indictment, as well as for a bill of particulars (Docket no. 219) and two motions to sever various counts (Docket nos. 220 and 221).*fn8 This Report and Recommendation will only consider Wilson's motion to dismiss at Docket no. 188.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

In this case, Wilson moves to dismiss Counts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 due to insufficiency of evidence. As has been made clear by the Ninth Circuit, "[a] motion to dismiss the indictment cannot be used as a device for a summary trial of the evidence.... The Court should not consider evidence not appearing on the face of the indictment."*fn9 A defendant charged with a federal offense is not entitled to a preliminary hearing or examination if the Grand Jury returned an indictment against him.*fn10 Because much of Wilson's brief is focused on his allegations that the charges against him are not supported by sufficient evidence to support a conviction, these arguments, while proper for trial, are premature for the current stage of the litigation.

Wilson's brief in support of his motion to dismiss also alleges that the indictment was insufficiently detailed to permit Wilson to prepare his defense. However, in the absence of a more concrete showing, the fact that the indictment tracks the language of the statute ensures that it is specific enough to survive Wilson's motion to dismiss. The indictment against Wilson contains the necessary recitation of the federal statute along with the necessary factual predicates. Wilson alleges no specific prejudice that he has or will suffer as a result of the defects in the indictment. For instance, Wilson fails to allege any specific details regarding his inability to prepare his defense, his inability to ensure he is being prosecuted based on the facts before the grand jury, his inability to plead ...

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