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United States v. Doak

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

October 28, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAYCEE DOAK, Defendant.

          ORDER

          KRISTI K. DuBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Jaycee Doak's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, or, in the alternative, Motion for a New Trial. (Docs. 170, 171, 180).

         The jury convicted Jaycee Doak of six counts of aiding and abetting in the charge of transportation of a minor with intent that the minor engage in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a), (e). The question Jaycee Doak's motion presents is whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Government, a reasonable jury could have concluded she “intend[ed] to facilitate that offense's commission, ” Rosemond v. United States, 572 U.S. 65, 76 (2014), i.e., that she “participate[d] in it as in something that [s]he wishe[d] to bring about” and “s[ought] by h[er] action[s] to make it succeed.” Id. (quoting Nye & Nissen v. United States, 336 U.S. 613, 619 (1949)).

         I. MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL (Doc. 171)

         Pursuant to Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, “[u]pon the defendant's motion, the court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 33(a). “Thus, there are two grounds upon which a court may grant a motion for new trial: one based on newly discovered evidence . . .; and the other based on any other reason, typically the interest of justice . . . .” United States v. Campa, 459 F.3d 1121, 1151 (11th Cir. 2006). The decision whether to grant or deny a motion for new trial rests in the sound discretion of the trial court. United States v. Champion, 813 F.2d 1154, 1170 (11th Cir. 1987).

         Jaycee Doak filed a one sentence motion for new trial in which she summarily states that trial with Mack Doak “may have prevented her from having a fair trial.” Jaycee was ordered to supplement her motion but failed to do so with any facts, citations or authority in support. The court does not find that the interest of justice or any other reason supports a new trial. Accordingly, the motion is DENIED.[1]

         II. MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL (Doc. 170 and 180)

         Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that “[a]fter the government closes its evidence or after the close of all the evidence, the court on the defendant's motion must enter a judgment of acquittal of any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(a).[2] The Rule also provides that “[a] defendant may move for a judgment of acquittal, or renew such a motion, within 14 days after a guilty verdict or after the court discharges the jury, whichever is later.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(c)(1).

         “A motion for judgment of acquittal is a direct challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence presented against the defendant.” United States v. Aibejeris, 28 F.3d 97, 98 (11th Cir. 1994). In deciding such a motion, “district courts should apply the same standard as that used for reviewing a conviction for sufficiency of the evidence. The Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the government and determine whether a reasonable jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” United States v. Sellers, 871 F.2d 1019, 1021 (11th Cir. 1989) (internal citations omitted); see also United States v. Browne, 505 F.3d 1229, 1253 (11th Cir. 2007) (“In reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence challenge, we consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the Government, drawing all reasonable inferences and credibility choices in the Government's favor.”). To sustain a conviction, the evidence need not “exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence or be wholly inconsistent with every conclusion except that of guilt.” United States v. Garcia, 447 F.3d 1327, 1334 (11th Cir. 2006) (internal quotations and citation omitted). “The jury is free to choose between or among the reasonable conclusions to be drawn from the evidence presented at trial, and the court must accept all reasonable inferences and credibility determinations made by the jury.” Sellers, 871 F.2d at 1021 (internal citations omitted).

         Jaycee Doak argues the evidence submitted was insufficient to convict her primarily because the Government failed to provide evidence that Jaycee Doak “wished, sought success, [and] chose[] with full knowledge[] to participate in [Mack Doak]'s illegal venture.” (Doc. 180 at 6 (citing Rosemond, 572 U.S. at 689-70). She specifically argues that the Government failed to present evidence that she possessed intent at the time of travel that the minors engage in criminal sexual activity.

         The Government argues that “Jaycee Doak's continual presence at each move, her transportation of the minors, her knowledge of Mack Doak's sexual abuse, and her acts of concealment, readily sufficed to enable the jury to infer” she shared Mack Doak's criminal intent. (Doc. 211 at 17)

         The issue is whether there was sufficient evidence to support a conviction of Jaycee Doak for aiding and abetting Mack Doak's violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a). This provision proscribes the following:

(a) Transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.-A person who knowingly transports an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years in interstate or foreign commerce . . ., with intent that the individual engage in . . . any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense . . . .

         The statue does not require the Government prove a sexual activity ultimately occurred, just that the defendant “formed the intent to engage in sexual activity with a minor when he crossed state lines.” United States v. Knight, 381 Fed.Appx. 942, 945 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting United States v. Hersh, 297 F.3d 1233, 1245-46 (11th Cir. 2002)). The intent to engage in sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense need not be a significant motivating purpose for the ...


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