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United States v. Marin-Torres

United States District Court, D. Oregon

December 30, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LEONEL MARIN-TORRES, Defendant.

S. Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney, Gregory R. Nyhus, Assistant United States Attorney, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE Portland, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

Leonel Marin-Torres, FCI Sheridan-Inmate Mail/Parcels, Sheridan, OR, Defendant Pro Se.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNNDEZ, District Judge.

On October 27, 2014, a jury found Defendant guilty of two crimes: (1) assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 113(a)(3) and 7(3), and (2) possession of contraband in prison in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1791(a)(2), (b)(3), (d)(1)(B), and 7(3). Defendant moves for a new trial. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the motion.

STANDARDS

Upon motion by a defendant, "the court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires." Fed. R. Crim. P. 33(a); United States v. Moses, 496 F.3d 984, 987 (9th Cir. 2007). The court has discretion in deciding whether to grant a motion for a new trial. See United States v. Kellington, 217 F.3d 1084, 1097 (9th Cir. 2000); United States v. Pimentel, 654 F.2d 538, 545 (9th Cir. 1981). "It should be granted only in exceptional cases in which the evidence preponderates heavily against the verdict." Pimentel, 654 F.2d at 545 (internal citation omitted); see also United States v. Del Toro-Barboza, 673 F.3d 1136, 1153 (9th Cir. 2012).

DISCUSSION

Defendant contends that his constitutional rights were violated in four ways: (1) the Court did not allow Defendant to ask questions during voir dire; (2) the Multnomah County Jail denied Defendant three prescription medications, causing him to go on a hunger strike; (3) the Court did not arrange for any African-Americans to be on the jury; and (4) the Government did not fully disclose all documents requested in discovery. Due to these alleged violations, Defendant argues that he should be granted a new trial.

I. Voir Dire

Defendant argues that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated because the Court did not allow him to ask questions of potential jurors during voir dire. Defendant misunderstands the law.

Federal judges have "ample discretion" in deciding how to best conduct voir dire. Rosales-Lopez v. U.S., 451 U.S. 182, 189 (1981). The court may examine prospective jurors or may permit the attorneys for the parties, or pro se parties themselves, to do so. Fed. R. Crim. P. 24. If the court examines the jurors, it must permit the attorneys or pro se parties to ask further questions or submit further questions that the Court may ask if it considers them proper. Id.

Here, the Court lawfully exercised its discretion in deciding to examine prospective jurors. Defendant was given ample opportunity to submit proposed questions for the Court to ask. On March 4, 2014, more than six months before the trial, the Court's Trial Management Order [12] directed the parties to submit proposed voir dire questions fourteen days prior to the scheduled trial date. While the Government submitted a list of questions, Defendant chose not to. The Court gave Defendant another opportunity to submit questions at the beginning of the jury selection process. Once again, Defendant chose not to. Defendant has no constitutional right to personally ask the jurors questions, nor does he present any evidence whatsoever that the Court abused its discretion in conducting voir dire.

II. Access to Medication and Hunger Strike

Defendant contends that his Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights were violated when the Multnomah County Jail denied him access to three prescribed medications. Defendant was on a hunger ...


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