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United States v. James

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

April 4, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH LLOYD JAMES, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Susan M. Bazis United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for a Complex Case Designation and to Exclude Time Under the Speedy Trial Act. (Filing No. 50.) This motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for disposition.

         Defendant's motion requests that this case be given a complex case designation. The motion indicates the government does not object to the complex case designation, which the government confirmed to the Court in an in-chambers conference held on February 28, 2019, as well as is its response brief (Filing No. 59).

         Defendant's motion also requests that the Court give him until September 4, 2019 to prepare and submit mitigation evidence to the United States Attorney. The motion further asks that the Court order the United States Attorney to wait to submit his recommendation and accompanying paperwork regarding the death penalty to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice until the government receives Defendant's mitigation evidence.[1] Defendant argues that doing so will allow the Capital Review Committee to have all necessary information when making its decision regarding whether the death penalty will be sought. The government objects to this portion of Defendant's motion.

         For the reasons explained below, Defendant's motion (Filing No. 50) will be granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 20, 2018, Defendant was charged by a Complaint with Arson in Indian Country. (Filing No. 1.) On December 11, 2018, Defendant was indicted on Arson in Indian Country. (Filing No. 24.) On February 21, 2019, a Superseding Indictment was filed against Defendant charging him with Murder in Indian Country, Felony Murder in Indian Country, Kidnapping Resulting in Death and Carjacking Resulting in Death. (Filing No. 47.) Defendant was arraigned on the Superseding Indictment on February 28, 2019.[2]

         1. Complex Case Designation

         The parties agree that this case should be designated as complex. Defendant waived his speedy trial rights, on the record, on February 28, 2019 during his arraignment on the Superseding Indictment. The Court finds from the representations by counsel for the parties that this case is so unusual and complex due to the nature of the prosecution, the existence of novel questions of fact and law, and the amount of discovery, it would be unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for the trial within the time limits established by the Speedy Trial Act. See 18 U.S.C. 3161(h)(7)(B)(ii).

         The government shall have until April 12, 2019 in which to accomplish discovery provided for in Rule 16, Fed. R. Crim. P., and shall adhere to the continuing duty to disclose such matters pursuant to Rule 16(c), Fed. R. Crim. P. If after compliance with Rule 16 there is necessity for the filing of pretrial motions, they shall be filed by September 25, 2019.

         2. Request for Time to Submit Mitigation Evidence

         Defendant is requesting six months to submit his mitigation evidence to the United States Attorney. The rules applicable to this issue are the Department of Justice Manual regarding the death penalty and the CJA Guidelines for Death Penalty Cases. The DOJ protocols § 9-10.010 through 9-10.200 set forth the policies and procedures for all federal cases in which a defendant is charged, or could be charged, with an offense subject to the death penalty. Section 9-10.030 provides that the overriding goal of the review process is to allow proper individualized consideration of the appropriate factors relevant to each case. Section 9-10.080, which pertains to non-expedited decisions, is the section specifically applicable to this case. This provision provides:

In any case in which the United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General is contemplating requesting authorization to seek the death penalty or otherwise believes it would be useful to the decision-making process to receive a submission from defense counsel, the United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General shall give counsel for the defendant a reasonable opportunity to present information for the consideration of the United ...

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