United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion to
compel (Dkt. No. 36). Having thoroughly considered the
parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
hereby DENIES the motion for the reasons explained herein.
Government alleges the following facts in the indictment
against Defendant. On August 23, 2018, members of the Auburn
Police Department (“Auburn PD”), including
Officer Jeff Nelson, were briefed on Defendant's escape
and felony warrants, as well as his history of nine felony
convictions. (Dkt. No. 1 at 2-4.) Later that day, officers
positioned themselves outside a location where Defendant was
known to be staying, watched him leave on a motorcycle, and
followed him to a “known drug location.”
(Id. at 4.) Defendant rode in a reckless manner that
appeared to be a “counter-surveillance
technique.” (Id.) Defendant eventually left on
a new motorcycle, and officers followed him to a Walmart
parking lot, where Defendant appeared to be conducting drug
transactions. (Id. at 4-5.) Officers moved in to
apprehend Defendant, and Defendant ran, jumped over a fence,
and approached a car. (Id. at 5.) Defendant told a
passenger in the car that he would pay her $1, 000 to drive
him away. (Id.) When the passenger refused,
Defendant tried to open a rear door of the car.
(Id.) The passenger told the driver to lock the
doors and “drive off, ” and then motioned to the
officers. (Id.) According to the Defendant, as
Defendant ran away towards a fence, Officer Nelson ran him
over with his patrol car. (Dkt. Nos. 20 at 2, 33 at 2.) The
Government alleges that Defendant then fought with several
officers and “pull[ed] his right arm close to his body,
” where officers later found a loaded handgun after
handcuffing Defendant. (Dkt. No. 1 at 5.) Officers also found
suspected methamphetamine and a digital scale on
Defendant's person. (Id. at 5-6.) Defendant
sustained two broken ankles and a dislocated shoulder from
the collision with Officer Nelson's car. (Dkt. No. 20 at
has been indicted on two counts of felon in possession of a
firearm, one count of possession of methamphetamine with
intent to distribute, and one count of possession of a
firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. (Dkt. No.
10.) During the course of discovery, Defendant subpoenaed the
Auburn PD for information regarding Officer Nelson's
employment history and conduct. (Dkt. No. 26 at 2.) Officer
Nelson's behavioral assessment, a routine assessment
conducted at the time of Officer Nelson's employment
application, was withheld. (Id.; Dkt. No. 33 at 4
now moves to compel the Government to disclose the behavioral
assessment, along with Officer Nelson's application for
employment with the Auburn PD, psychological exam, resume,
and annual performance evaluations (collectively,
“application documents”). (Dkt. No. 36.)
Defendant seeks the application documents as evidence of
Officer Nelson's use of excessive force during the August
23 arrest “to support a request for suppression”
of evidence obtained during that arrest. (See Dkt.
No. 44 at 3.) The Government opposes disclosure of the
application documents because of their highly personal and
sensitive nature. (Dkt. No. 37 at 4.)
Government also argues that the application materials are
irrelevant and immaterial to Defendant's present
indictment, and more pertinent to a 42 U.S.C. § 1983
claim. (Id. at 5-6.)
Motion to Compel Legal Standard
defendant's request, the Government must provide access
to items that are “material to preparing [a]
defense.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a)(1)(E)(i); see
also W.D. Wash. Local Crim. R. 16(a)(2). Information is
material if it is helpful to the defendant in preparing a
defense. United States v. Santiago, 46 F.3d 885, 893
(9th Cir. 1995). If a party fails to provide material
information, the Court may compel a party to comply with the
rules of discovery. Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(d)(2); see
also W.D. Wash. Local Crim. R. 16(e).
Brady Standard for Exculpatory Evidence
Government's failure to provide a defendant with access
to exculpatory evidence upon request “violates due
process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to
punishment.” Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83,
87 (1963). A finding of materiality requires “a
reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed
to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been
different”-a “reasonable probability” being
“sufficient to undermine confidence in the
outcome.” United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S.
667, 682 (1985).
Government asserts that it has complied with the Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure and Brady in its
disclosure of material exculpatory evidence. (See
Dkt. No. 37.) Defendant must overcome this assertion by
proving the materiality of the application documents.
Bagley, 473 U.S. at 674-75, 682; see also
Strickler v. Greene, 527 U.S. 263, 289-91 (1999).
Defendant intends to use the application documents as proof
of Officer Nelson's propensity to use excessive force in
order to show that the August 23 arrest was unreasonable.
(See Dkt. No. 44 at 3.) But Defendant has not shown
a reasonable probability that the outcome of this case turns
on the disclosure of the application documents. Specifically,
Defendant has not established that Officer Nelson's
application documents are material to an adjudication of
Defendant's guilt or punishment for his pending firearm
and drug charges. See Bagley, 437 U.S. at 682.
Standard for ...