By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
A co-defendant in the Marianas fruit bat poaching case is asking the federal court for a pre-trial hearing to determine the admissibility of his co-conspirator’s statements and asked disclosure of all potential coconspirator statements.
Former Division of Fish and Wildlife employee David A. Santos, through his counsel Michael W. Dotts, maintains that the disclosure is being sought for the purpose of conducting a pretrial hearing on admissibility, not for general discovery under Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Dotts refuted the government’s argument that disclosure of the statements is not required under Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
He said that none of the cases that the government cited in opposition to Santos’ motion for pretrial hearing on the admissibility of co-conspirator statements are applicable to Santos’ motion “because they deal with disclosure of co-conspirator statements with respect to Rule 16 and the Jenks Act rather than in the context of a pretrial hearing on admissibility.”
Dotts also said that a pretrial hearing will prevent unfair surprise to the defense.
He said that the court is empowered to order a pre-trial hearing on the admissibility of co-conspirator statements.
For Dotts, a pre-trial hearing is strongly preferred over the conditional admission approach because it allows both parties sufficient opportunity to address admissibility issues in a fair and open manner outside the presence of the jury so the court can make reasoned determinations on the merits rather than de facto default due to defendant’s inability to rebut or impeach co-conspirator evidence on a last-minute basis.
For Dotts, Santos needs to know who his alleged co-conspirators are and what they said that the government is now claiming is imputable to Santos under Rule 801(d)(2)(E).
“The indictment is too vague to provide this necessary information as Count I simply alleges a criminal conspiracy involving the defendants and ‘others known to the grand jury’ to take a threatened species.” More....