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United States v. Angeles-Montezuma

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 10, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ISRAEL ANGELES-MONTEZUMA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM, ORDER, REPORT, AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE [1]

          JOHN M. BODENHAUSEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Currently before the Court are the following pretrial motions filed by Defendant Israel Angeles-Montezuma (“Angeles-Montezuma”): (1) Motion to Dismiss the Indictment (ECF Nos. 1277); (2) Motion for a Bill of Particulars (ECF No. 1276); and (3) Motion for Severance Pursuant to Rules 8(b) and 14 (ECF No. 1279). The government has filed responses in opposition. (ECF Nos. 1286, 1288) On September 26, 2017, at Defendant's request, the undersigned held a hearing on Angeles-Montezuma's motions.

         RELEVANT PRODECURAL BACKGROUND

         On September 28, 2016, the Grand Jury returned a multi-count indictment alleging, among other violations, a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy involving 39 named defendants. On October 12, 2016, the Grand Jury returned a superseding indictment which added three more defendants, but which did not change the charges or allegations relevant to Angeles-Montezuma. Angeles-Montezuma is the first named defendant and is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) and 846. Angeles-Montezuma was arrested on October 4, 2016, in the Eastern District of California, and removed to this District.

         On October 24, 2016, the undersigned issued a Scheduling Order which, among other things, found this matter to be a complex case within the meaning of the Speedy Trial Act, and set a status conference for December 15, 2016. (ECF No. 372) One of the purposes of the status conference was to set a “definitive schedule for the filing and consideration of pretrial motions.” (Id.) Between October 24, 2016, and December 14, 2016, the government filed three detailed notices that outlined the arguably suppressible evidence in the case. (ECF Nos. 371, 447, 642)

         Angeles-Montezuma's attorney was present at the December 15, 2016, status conference, which was conducted with attorneys only. (ECF No. 644-1) At the status conference, the undersigned discussed issues and scheduling matters concerning discovery, case budgeting, and pretrial motions. The undersigned proposed scheduling pretrial motions in three sequential phases-first, legal motions addressing the sufficiency of the indictment; second, motions challenging electronic surveillance, including wiretap evidence; and third, any remaining suppression motions or severance motions. There was no disagreement voiced regarding a phased pretrial motions schedule.

         On December 20, 2016, the undersigned issued a written Scheduling Order consistent with the December 15, 2016, status conference. The December 20, 2016, Scheduling Order directed that “legal motions with respect to the sufficiency of the indictment, including any motions to dismiss, must be filed by February 1, 2017.” (ECF No. 650 at 3, emphasis in original) The Scheduling Order further provided that the failure to file timely motions “may be considered a waiver of the right of a party to make such motions or requests, as set out in Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(c)(3).” (Id., emphasis in original) The December 20, 2016, Scheduling Order set a later deadline for filing “motions directed at wiretap matters or other electronic surveillance, ” and deferred setting a firm deadline for any motions to suppress evidence or statements and motions to sever. (Id. at 4)

         The February 1, 2017, deadline for filing motions directed to the sufficiency of the indictment passed without any party filing any such motions or requesting any extension of time. Accordingly, on February 10, 2017, the undersigned issued a “Scheduling Order and Waiver of Legal Motions Directed to the Sufficiency of Superseding Indictment.” (ECF No. 777) In the February 10th Order, the undersigned found that each defendant had waived his or her right file legal motions pertaining to the sufficiency of the indictment, including any motions to dismiss. (Id. at 1) No. party filed any objection or request to reconsider the February 10th Order. The February 10th Order set a deadline of March 10, 2017, for filing motions directed to wiretap and electronic surveillance matters, and again deferred setting a deadline for any motions to suppress evidence or statements and motions to sever. (Id. at 2)

         On June 27, 2017, after addressing all wiretap motions, [2] the undersigned issued a Scheduling Order for the remaining pretrial motions (motions to suppress evidence or statements, and severance motions), and directed that any remaining motions be filed by August 2, 2017. (ECF No. 1088) On August 2, 2017, and August 8, 2017, Angeles-Montezuma filed motions for additional time to file any remaining motions or to file a waiver or such motions, which the Court granted. (ECF No. 1185, 1212, 1219, 1223) Angeles-Montezuma was given until August 16, 2017, to file any remaining pretrial motions. Angeles-Montezuma filed the three motions at issue herein on August 16th.

         DISCUSSION OF ISSUES PRESENTED

         I. Motion to Dismiss Indictment and Motion for Bill of Particulars

         A. Timeliness

         The government argues that the pending Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Bill of Particulars are untimely. The undersigned agrees.

         Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure identifies several categories of motions that must be filed before trial, including motions challenging the specificity of an indictment. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(3)(B)(iii). Rule 12 further provides that “[t]he court may, at arraignment or as soon afterward as practicable, set a deadline for the parties to make pretrial motions …. If the court does not set one, the deadline is the start of trial.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(c)(1).

         This is a complex case. Accordingly, the Court established a detailed schedule for filing pretrial motions. The schedule was set as soon as practicable and only after consulting with all of the lawyers involved in this case. No. party objected to the schedule set in this matter. Further, the superseding indictment was returned on October 12, 2016, and the deadline for filing motions challenging the indictment was set on December 20, 2016. The schedule gave the parties several months to review the indictment and discovery, and to consider whether to challenge the superseding indictment or seek a bill of particulars. None of the 42 named defendants filed a timely motion directed to the sufficiency of the superseding indictment or seeking a bill of particulars.

         On February 10, 2017, the undersigned issued a new scheduling order which affirmatively found and stated that all parties had waived their right to file motions challenging the sufficiency of the superseding indictment. Again, no party objected to the February 10, 2017, Scheduling Order, and no party took issue with the conclusion that they had waived any motions challenging the sufficiency of the superseding indictment.

         Rule 12(c)(3) makes clear that, when “a party does not meet the deadline for making a [pretrial] motion, the motion is untimely. But a court may consider the defense, objection, or request if the party shows good cause.” See also United States v. Hardison, 859 F.3d 585, 589 n.5 (8th Cir. 2017) (explaining that, under Fed, R. Crim. P. 12(c)(3), a district court may refuse to consider an untimely pretrial motion but may still consider it for good cause); United States v. Boykin, 794 F.3d 939, 944 (8th Cir. 2015) (discussing challenges to the sufficiency of an indictment, which must be raised before trial, and claims that an indictment fails to state an offense, which “a defendant may raise at any time”) (citing Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(2) and United States v. Villarreal, 707 F.3d 942, 957 (8th Cir. 2013)), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 856 (2016).

         At the September 26, 2017, hearing on his motions, Angeles-Montezuma's counsel explained that he understood the Motion to Dismiss was untimely, but that he concluded that he had a duty to file it after evaluating the evidence and the case, which took time. Regarding the Bill of Particulars, Angeles-Montezuma noted that the Court's prior scheduling orders did not specifically mention a deadline for filing any motions requesting a bill of particulars.

         Regarding the Motion to Dismiss, the undersigned is not persuaded by Angeles-Montezuma's contention that he needed more time. The undersigned set a clear and unambiguous deadline regarding motions challenging the sufficiency of the indictment after holding a status hearing and requesting input from all attorneys. No. defendant asked for any extension of time for any reason, including Angeles-Montezuma. Further, the issues raised in Angeles-Montezuma's Motion to Dismiss are neither complex nor novel; they could have been raised on time. This Court has made it clear to the parties the deadlines must be honored absent good cause. Angeles-Montezuma has not shown good cause for filing his Motion to Dismiss several months out of time, and without seeking prior leave of the Court.

         Regarding his Motion for a Bill of Particulars, Angeles-Montezuma correctly notes that the prior scheduling orders do not mention a deadline for motions seeking a bill of particulars. The undersigned intended that the original deadline regarding the sufficiency of the indictment to encompass such motions, but agrees that the scheduling orders did not specifically refer to or mention any deadline concerning motions for a bill of particulars. The Court will give Angeles-Montezuma the benefit of the doubt and find that no such deadline was set.

         Giving Angeles-Montezuma the benefit of the doubt does not end the timeliness inquiry. Without a court-imposed deadline, the deadline set in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure applies. Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(f), a “defendant may move for a bill of particulars before or within 14 days after arraignment or at a later time if the court permits.” Angeles-Montezuma was arraigned on November 8, 2016 (ECF No. 479), and his Motion for Bill of Particulars was filed on August 16, 2017 (ECF No. 1276). Under the Rules, his motion is untimely and may properly be denied as such.

         In summary, the undersigned finds that Angeles-Montezuma did not file timely motions challenging the sufficiency of the indictment and requesting a bill of particulars. Therefore, his Motion to Dismiss and Motion ...


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