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United States v. Baskerville

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY


February 3, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RAKIM BASKERVILLE, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Faith S. Hochberg, U.S.D.J.

ORDER

This matter having come before the Court upon Rakim Baskerville's Motion for a New Trial pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 33; and the Court having received an opposition from the Government; and the Court noting that Defendant Baskerville seeks a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence, specifically arguing that the Government failed to disclose potential impeachment materials on Officer George Snowden, one of the Government's witnesses at Defendant's trial;*fn1 and the Court further noting that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(a) states, in relevant part, "[u]pon the defendant's motion, the court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires;" and the Third Circuit indicating that a new trial should be granted only if "there is a serious danger that a miscarriage of justice has occurred-that is an innocent person has been convicted;"*fn2 and the Court noting that "[u]nlike an insufficiency of the evidence claim, when a district court evaluates a Rule 33 motion it does not view the evidence favorably to the Government, but instead exercises its own judgment in assessing the Government's case;"*fn3 and it appearing that for this Court to grant a new trial it must find that the information regarding the civil restraining order constitutes newly discovered evidence and that this evidence is of such a nature that the interests of justice require a new trial; and Baskerville arguing that the civil restraining order constitutes newly discovered evidence because he would have been able to cross-examine Snowden at trial regarding the 1996 argument with his girlfriend; and the Court noting that impeachment with prior specific instances of conduct is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 608(b);*fn4 and the Court further noting that inquiries into specific conduct of witnesses for impeachment purposes is limited to the issue of truthfulness;*fn5 and the Court finding that in determining whether the civil restraining order is a permissible subject for cross-examination it must engage in a balancing test weighing the probative value on the issue of truthfulness versus the prejudicial value of the conduct pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 403;*fn6 and the Court, after engaging in the appropriate balancing test, finds that the civil restraining order would not be the proper subject of cross-examination because it did not involve conduct that would lead one to question Snowden's veracity and the incident, having occurred some 9 years earlier, was so remote in time that this incident would be more prejudicial than probative; and the Court further finding that even if it had found that the civil restraining order constituted newly discovered evidence that was a permissible subject of cross-examination, nonetheless Defendant Baskerville would not be entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence because there is virtually no connection between this old civil restraining order involving Snowden's girlfriend and the very serious drug conspiracy crimes committed by Baskerville;*fn7 and the Court further finding that there was no Brady or Giglio violation in the Government's failure to disclose information regarding Snowden's civil order of protection because the Government was not aware of the order;*fn8 and that the Government did disclose the facts to the Defendants as soon as it learned of them; and for good cause having been shown,

IT IS on this 3rd day of February, 2010,

ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for a New Trial pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 33 is DENIED.


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