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United States v. Denton

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division

February 27, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RICKY WALTER DENTON, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN, District Judge.

This case is presently pending before the court on the following Motions:

(1) Motion to Stay of Sentence and Release Pending Appeal, (doc. 326);[1]
(2) Motion for Modification of the Record, (doc. 339);
(3) Motion for Court to Clarify the Ruling on Certain Documents to Clarify and Correct the Record for Appeal, (doc. 341);
(4) Motion for Injunction Preventing S.A. Stokes and/or Det. Tim Vanderford From Contacting Witnesses Jonathan Todd and Hollie Todd, (doc. 369);
(5) Motion for New Trial on Newly Discovered Evidence of Fraud and/or Obstruction of Justice by Government Agents, (doc. 370);
(6) Motion for Indicative Ruling, (doc. 371);
(7) Renewed Motion for a New Trial, (doc. 392);
(8) Motion to Compel the Court to Rule on Renewed Motion for New Trial, (doc. 395);
(9) Motion to to Amend and Supplement Previously Filed Renewed Motion for a New Trial, (doc. 396);
(10) Motion to Amend the Renewed Motion for a New Trial - Amendment No. 2, (doc. 397); and
(11) Motion for Order to Show Cause, (doc. 400).

For the reasons set forth below, the court finds these Motions are due to be denied.

I. MOTION TO STAY SENTENCE AND RELEASE PENDING APPEAL, (doc. 326).

Citing Rule 8(c) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure[2] and Rule 38(b) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, [3] Denton asks the court to order him released from federal custody and remanded to state custody pending his appeal. The court notes that Denton has exhausted his direct appeals and his conviction has been affirmed. Therefore, this Motion, (doc. 326), is due to be denied as moot.

The court also notes that it has previously denied Denton's Motions for a detention hearing, for bond and/or for release pending judgment and appeal. ( See doc. 17 [denied by stamp ruling dated May, 18, 2011]; doc. 137 [denied by stamp ruling dated July 20, 2011]; doc. 254 [denied by stamp ruling on January 24, 2012]; doc. 254 [denied by stamp ruling on January 24, 2012]; doc. 275 [denied by stamp ruling on January 24, 2012].) Thus, even if this Motion was not moot, it would be denied because Denton's current request offers no reason for the court to alter its previous rulings.

II. MOTION FOR MODIFICATION OF THE RECORD, (doc. 339).

Denton asks the court to order that certain documents and evidence be certified as part of the record on appeal, citing Fed. R. App. P. 10(e)(1). This Rule provides, "If any difference arises about whether the record truly discloses what occurred in the district court, the difference must be submitted to and settled by that court and the record conformed accordingly." Fed. R. App. P. 10(e)(1). The court finds that the record of the instant action submitted to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals "truly disclose[d] what occurred in [this] district court, " id.; therefore, this Motion, (doc. 339), will be denied.

III. MOTION FOR COURT TO CLARIFY THE RULING ON CERTAIN DOCUMENTS TO CLARIFY AND CORRECT THE RECORD FOR APPEAL, (doc. 341).

In this Motion Denton asks the court to "clarify" its ruling on a number of motions and objections that he concedes the court addressed at his sentencing.[4] (Doc. 341 at 1.) These documents are listed as:

(1) Doc. 325 - Objection to calculation of sentencing guideline
(2) Doc. 326 - Motion for Stay
(3) Doc. 322 - Motion to Reconsider Motion for New-Trial
(4) Doc. 310 - Objection to/and Motion to Reconsider Issues to Dismiss Indictment
(5) Doc. 311 - Objection (Not Being Provided Photo)
(6) Doc. 312 - Objection
(7) Doc. 313 - Objections and Motion to Reconsider
(8) Doc. 314 - Objection
(9) Doc. 308 - Motion to Reconsider
(10) Doc. 310 - Objection
(11) Doc. 320 - Motion fort Grand-Jury Transcript Made Part of Record

(Doc. 341 at 1-2.)

At the sentencing hearing, this court stated:

THE COURT: Before I get to the objections, let me say this: You have a number of post-trial pending motions. I have looked at every single one of them. I think they are all, with the exception of one, due to be and will be denied on the record.
The only one I am going to - Document 316 is a motion to unseal attachments to a previously-filed motion. I'm going to have my courtroom deputy check, and I think you have filed the documents that were sealed in other subsequent motions, so it doesn't matter. To the extent, if they are still sealed in Document 300, I am going to direct they be unsealed.
But I have carefully looked at every other pending motion, and there are many, and they're duplicative of ones you filed pretrial, during the trial, post trial, and they're all due to be denied, so I am going to deny them on the record.
Now, if I need argument, I am going to tell you. I will tell you when I need argument. Okay. Thank you. What did you want to say? I really don't need argument. I looked at every single pending motion.
...
DEFENDANT DENTON: Some of them are objections I would like to have on the record. I have numerous objections.
THE COURT: They are preserved. They're preserved for appeal. I am overruling the objections, and I am denying the motions. If my rulings are in error - I don't think there's any need to address them. I feel like I've addressed substantively anything that needs to be addressed on these motions previously.
...
THE COURT: I'm ruling, so it's preserved. You don't need to argue today to have them preserved.

(Doc. 354 at 3-7; see also Order [Stamp Ruling] of Feb. 17, 2012 [denying docs. 308, 310, 313, 320, 322].)

The court's decision to overrule defendant's pending objections and to deny his pending motions was clear. Therefore, defendant's Motion to Clarify, (doc. 341), will be denied.

IV. MOTION FOR INJUNCTION PREVENTING S.A. STOKES AND/OR DET. TIM VANDERFORD FROM CONTACTING WITNESSES JONATHAN TODD AND HOLLIE TODD, (Doc. 369).

Denton asks the court to enjoin Special Agent Stokes of the FBI and Lieutenant Vanderford of the Colbert County Sheriff's Department from contacting Jonathan Todd and Hollie Todd. (Doc. 369.) He states that the Todds "have admitted they where subjected to improper [influence] by these agents to [commit perjury] and to not afford the defendant interviews during the trial and [the agents have] use[d] [intimidation] to interfer[e] with the adversary fact finding process and the defendant has filed proper motions before the court concerning those acts and the agents should be prevented from other acts of [intimidation]." ( Id. )

Denton has no standing to seek an injunction prohibiting Vanderford and/or Stokes from contacting the Todds. See Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 114-16 (1976); Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499 (1975). Therefore, Denton's Motion to enjoin Vanderford and Stokes from contacting Jonathan Todd or Hollie Todd, (doc. 369), will be denied.

V. MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL ON NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE OF FRAUD AND/OR OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE BY GOVERNMENT AGENTS, (doc. 370).

Denton contends that he is entitled to a new trial based on "newly discovered evidence of fraud and obstruction of justice by government agents." (Doc. 370 at 1.) In support of his Motion he contends:

1. "Key [witness] for the government has stepped forward and admitted [he was] improperly influenced and intimidated to [commit] acts of perjury by S.A. Stokes during the trial." ( Id. [citing id. at 4-9].)
2. "Key [witness] for the government has provided sworn statement[ ] that Det. Tim Vanderford intimidated [her] not to [participate] in the adversary fact finding process by giving the defendant court sanctioned interviews during the trial." ( Id. at 2 [citing id. at 10-13].)

Based on this newly-discovered evidence, Denton contends he is entitled to a new trial in the interest of judgment. ( Id. at 2-3.)

The Eleventh Circuit has held:

Rule 33 allows a defendant to file a motion for a new trial within 3 years after the verdict if the motion is based on "newly discovered evidence, " or 14 days after the verdict if based on "other grounds." Fed. R. Crim. P. 33(b). The court may grant the motion "if the interest of justice so requires." Fed. R. Crim. P. 33(a). We have held that, to succeed on a Rule 33 motion based on newly discovered evidence, the defendant must establish that:
(1) the evidence was discovered after trial, (2) the failure of the defendant to discover the evidence was not due to a lack of due diligence, (3) the evidence is not merely cumulative or impeaching, (4) the evidence is material to issues before the court, and (5) the evidence is such that a new trial would probably produce a different result.
United States v. Jernigan, 341 F.3d 1273, 1287 (11th Cir. 2003)(quotations omitted). The defendant must satisfy all of these elements to warrant relief. United States v. Williams, 816 F.2d 1527, 1530 (11th Cir. 1987). We have noted that motions for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence "are highly disfavored... and should be granted only with great caution." United States v. Campa, 459 F.3d 1121, 1151 (11th Cir. 2006)(en banc)(quotations omitted).
"In ruling on a motion for new trial based upon newly discovered evidence, it is within the province of the trial court to consider the credibility of those individuals who give statements in support of the motion." United States v. Reed, 887 F.2d 1398, 1404 n.12 (11th Cir. 1989). Further, we have held that, for newly discovered evidence to justify a new trial, "the evidence must be material and not merely cumulative or impeaching, and must be such that it will probably produce an acquittal." United States v. Diaz, 190 F.3d 1247, 1255 (11th Cir. 1999).
The government's presentation of perjured testimony or failure to correct false evidence violates due process. Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 153-55, 92 S.Ct. 763, 31 L.Ed.2d 104 (1972). In order to establish a Giglio violation, the defendant must show that "(1) the contested statements were actually false, (2) the statements were material, and (3) the prosecution knew that they were false." United States v. Bailey, 123 F.3d 1381, 1395 (11th Cir. 1997)(quotations omitted). In order to show that the contested statements were material, the defendant must demonstrate that "the false testimony could reasonably be taken to put the whole case in such a different light as to undermine confidence in the verdict." United States v. Dickerson, 248 F.3d 1036, 1041 (11th Cir. 2001)(quotations omitted).

United States v. Mitchell, 569 Fed.Appx. 884, 885 (11th Cir. 2014).[5] A defendant is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing on a motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence if "the acumen gained by a trial judge over the course of the proceedings makes her well qualified to rule on the basis of affidavits without a hearing." United States v. Schlei, 122 F.3d 944, 994 (11th Cir. 1997)(quoting United States v. Hamilton, 559 F.2d 1370, 1373-74 (5th Cir. 1977))(internal quotations omitted).

A. JONATHAN TODD

Jonathan Todd is Denton's son. (Doc. 352 at 126.) At trial, he testified that he was living with Denton and Hollie Anderson Todd in December 2009. ( Id. at 127.) On December 16, 2009, the day before the bank robbery, he and Ms. Todd were in their bedroom and they heard a gunshot. ( Id. at 131-32.) He went into the living room and ...


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