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United States v. Estevez

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 4, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CARLOS GABRIEL ESTEVEZ

RULING ON MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL

Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

On April 2, 2016, the Defendant filed a Motion for New Trial. (ECF No. 339.) For the reasons set forth below, that motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 8, 2015, a jury found the Defendant guilty of (1) Conspiracy to Distribute and to Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and (2) Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(i). (ECF No. 265.) Sentencing is scheduled for June 7, 2016.

On December 20, 2015, the Defendant filed a motion to extend the time to file a “potential motion for a new trial, ” asserting that “on or about December 17, 2015, Defense Counsel received information that Mr. Estevez may have been physically exposed to the jurors in his case while in hand cuffs and being transported to and from the courtroom during trial recesses by members of the U.S. Marshal’s Service (USMS).” (ECF No. 275 at 1.) The Defendant sought an additional 14 days to interview potential witnesses “to determine if a motion for a new trial is warranted.” (Id. at 2.) The motion also stated that “Defense Counsel had no knowledge or information during the trial to believe that Mr. Estevez had been exposed to the jurors in his case, while in custody, during trial recesses” and that, had defense counsel known this information, he “would have immediately brought it to the Court’s attention.” (Id.) The Court granted the motion, making the motion for new trial due on January 5, 2016.[1] (ECF No. 276.) On January 5, the Defendant filed a second motion for extension of time, seeking until January 19, 2016, to file a “potential motion for new trial.” (ECF No. 281 at 3.) In this motion, defense counsel represented that he had not yet been able to make contact with Steven Martone, a potential witness who was housed in the courthouse lock-up at the same time as the Defendant while Mr. Martone was on trial in another case. (Id. at 1-2.) The Court granted the motion, making the motion for a new trial due on January 19, 2016. (ECF No. 282.)

January 19 came and went without the filing by the Defendant of any motion for a new trial or any further motion to extend the time for filing such a motion. About a month later, on February 18, 2016, the Defendant filed a “Motion for Issuance of Rule 17(c) Subpoena, ” seeking a Court order authorizing the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum on the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility (“Wyatt”), the pretrial detention facility where the Defendant was housed during the trial. (ECF No. 315.) The motion stated that: “Defense Counsel recently learned that Mr. Estevez may have disclosed . . . to [Wyatt] correctional officers . . . both during his transport from Court back to the facility, and upon his arrival” that he “was . . . exposed to jurors while in hand (and possibly leg) restraints being transported either to or from the courtroom . . . .” (ECF No. 315 at 1-2.) Because “[t]he precise identity of these officers remain[ed] unknown” to defense counsel, the motion sought a subpoena to require Wyatt to identify the officers who were assigned to transport Mr. Estevez during the trial, as defense counsel believed that “[t]hese officers . . . [had] discussed with Mr. Estevez his alleged exposure to the jurors during trial.” (Id. at 2.)

On February 22, 2016, the Court denied the motion for issuance of Rule 17(c) subpoena in the following order:

ORDER as to Carlos Gabriel Estevez (1). Defendant filed-and the Court granted-Defendant’s motions 275 and 281 for extensions of time to file a motion for a new trial so that defense counsel could interview witnesses regarding whether jurors saw the Defendant in hand and/or leg restraints during the trial proceedings. The twice-extended deadline for filing such a motion, January 19, 2016, has passed. Defendant has filed no motion for a new trial. Instead, on February 18, 2016, Defendant filed a motion seeking an order authorizing the issuance of a subpoena to Wyatt Detention Facility in order to identify the officers who transported Defendant to and from the Court during his trial so that he may interview them about whether Defendant told the officers that jurors saw him while he was in restraints. Because there is no motion for a new trial pending, because the deadline has passed for filing one under Rule 33(b)(2), because the Defendant’s motion suggests that counsel remains uncertain as to whether there is a basis for filing one and can at this point only speculate whether there is, and because the evidence he seeks appears to be aimed merely at corroborating statements his client has already made to him, the Court DENIES Defendant’s motion 315 for permission to issue a Rule 17(c) subpoena to Wyatt Detention Facility.

(ECF No. 318.)

Finally, on April 2, 2016, the Defendant filed this motion for new trial. (ECF No. 339.) In the motion, the Defendant asserts that “[o]n or about the second to last day of trial, Mr. Estevez was exposed to the juror(s) while in handcuffs and restraints.” (ECF No. 339-1 at 2.) The Defendant asserts that after the jurors exited the courtroom at a recess,

USMS placed Mr. Estevez into handcuffs and prepared to escort him to the cellblock. As they began to exit the courtroom, the marshals pulled Mr. Estevez back inside in a sudden and abrupt manner. Outside the courtroom and in the corridor stood one or more of the jurors in his case. Mr. Estevez encountered or was exposed to the juror(s), which prompted the USMS to pull him back inside.

(Id. at 2.) Attached to the Defendant’s motion are affidavits from three of his friends and family members and from Mr. Martone, the potential witness referred to earlier. (Mr. Martone was acquitted in his own trial in December, 2015, and was released at that time.) There is no affidavit from Mr. Estevez himself.

In each of the affidavits filed in support of the motion, the affiant states that the Defendant told the affiant in December 2015 either that the Defendant had been seen by “a juror” or “some of the jurors” as he was being escorted out of the courtroom or that the Defendant told the affiant-after he was abruptly brought back into the courtroom by the U.S. Marshals-that “there is a juror outside.” (ECF Nos. 339-2, 339-3, 339-4, 339-5.) No affiant states or suggests that he or she actually observed any jurors outside the courtroom; that he or she left the courtroom at the same time as Mr. Estevez; that he or she had the same angle of sight as Mr. Estevez or the juror(s) who allegedly saw him; that he or ...


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