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United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 26, 2004.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD GUZMAN, District Judge


Before the Court are Defendants Richard Carman and Omar Avila's (collectively "Movants") individual motions for bills of particulars pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 7(f). For the reasons stated below, the motions are denied.


  On March 26, 2003, Movants and others were charged in a twenty-nine count superseding indictment.*fn1 Of these twenty-nine counts, the indictment charged Richard Carman with Counts One through Twenty-Four, and Avila with Counts One through Five. Count One consists of a RICO violation, alleging seventeen predicate acts. Count Two consists of a RICO conspiracy. Count Three alleges a drug conspiracy while Counts Four and Five allege that Movants kidnapped and murdered Sindulfo Miranda. The remaining counts against Richard Carman allege numerous statutory violations, including charges for drug possession and distribution, firearm possession, extortion, and witness tampering.

  Shortly after the filing of the superseding indictment, Movants filed their Motions for a Bill of Particulars.*fn2 In essence, Movants ask that the Court direct the Government to file a Bill of Particulars in order for them to understand the scope of the government's allegations, adequately prepare for trial and avoid being placed in double jeopardy.


  Under Rule 7(f) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, "the trial judge has discretion to grant or deny a request for a bill of particulars." United States v. Andrus, 775 F.2d 825, 843 (7th Cir. 1985). Absent abuse of discretion, the trial court's decision will not be disturbed on appeal. See Wong Tai v. United States, 273 U.S. 77, 82 (1927). Furthermore, "[t]he denial of a motion for a bill of particulars does not constitute an abuse of discretion `unless the deprivation of the information sought leads to the defendant's inability to adequately prepare his case, to avoid surprise at trial, or avoid the later risk of double jeopardy.'" United States v. Roya, 574 F.2d 386, 391 (7th Cir. 1978) (quoting United States v. Addonizio, 451 F.2d 49, 64 (3d Cir. 1971)).

  In analyzing the whether a bill of particulars is necessary, courts have looked to factors such as "the complexity of the charges, the clarity of the indictment, and the availability of discovery." United States v. Silesia Flavorings Inc., No. 03 CR 851, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3147, at *15 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 26, 2004). The necessity of a bill of particulars depends on "whether the indictment sets forth the elements of the offense charged and sufficiently appraises the defendant of the charges to enable him to prepare for trial." Roya, 574 F.2d at 391. This requirement is satisfied when "an indictment setting forth the elements of each offense charged, the time and place of the defendant's conduct that violated that offense, and citation to the statute or statutes violated." United States v. Kendall, 665 F.2d 126, 134 (7th Cir. 1981).

  In analyzing the sufficiency of the indictment, Movants do not allege, nor does this Court find, that the indictment fails to sufficiently set forth the elements of the offenses with which they are being charged. Furthermore, for all counts, the indictment cites the applicable statute. However, Movants make numerous requests for more specificity involving the times, dates and places associated with the allegations set forth in the indictment. For example, Count 24 of the superseding indictment alleges that "in or about August 2001" Richard Carman distributed crack cocaine. As such, in his motion for a bill of particulars, Richard Carman seeks "specificity when `in or about August 2001' Defendant distributed a controlled substance." (Carman Mot. at 10.)

  As currently set forth, this Court finds that the dates and places listed in indictment are not so vague or indefinite that Movants will be unable to know the nature of the charges against them, nor will they be limited in their ability to prepare for trial or avoid double jeopardy. Furthermore, the precedent set forth by the Seventh Circuit in Kendall does not mandate that an indictment list the exact time and place of a defendant's allegedly illegal conduct. See Kendall, 665 F.2d at 134. Moreover, a "defendant's constitutional right is to know the offense with which he is charged, not to know the details of how it will be proved." Id. at 135. As such, because the Court finds that the indictment sets forth the elements of the offenses Movants are charged with and sufficiently apprises them of those charges so that they can prepare for trial, a bill of particulars is unnecessary.

  Additionally, "a bill of particulars is not required when information necessary for a defendant's defense can be obtained through some other satisfactory form." United States v. Canino, 949 F.2d 928, 949 (7th Cir. 1991) (internal quotation omitted). In the present case, the Government has opted for an "open-file" policy for the approximately 10,000 pages of witness and non-privileged investigative materials.*fn3 Because an "open-file" policy is considered "an adequate `satisfactory form' of information retrieval," the bill of particulars is unnecessary. Canino, 949 F.2d at 949. Moreover, 10,000 pages are not so voluminous to necessitate a bill of particulars, especially in a case where Movants have a lengthy period to review the information prior to trial and where the indictment sufficiently apprises Movants of the charges against them. See United States v. Hassur, No. 01-40124-01-JAR, 2002 WI, 31682362, at *2 (D. Kan. Nov. 22, 2002) (denying defendant's motion for a bill of particulars in light of the government's "open-file" policy and the finding that the indictment is specific enough to narrow the defendant's research of discovery materials which included "a three inch stack of reports, 200 boxes in a warehouse and 33 boxes of records").

  Richard Carman contends that it would be "far simpler, and more time-efficient for the government to file a bill of particulars" but offers no authority for this proposition.*fn4 (Carman Reply at 5.) This statement misunderstands the purpose of a bill of particulars. A bill of particulars is a tool used not for the sake of simplicity or efficiency, but for the purpose of informing a defendant when he lacks the "central facts which will enable him to conduct his own investigation of the transactions giving rise to the charge." United States v. Manetti, 323 F. Supp. 683, 696 (D. Del. Feb. 8, 1971). As noted above, in the exercise of discretion courts have looked to the complexity of the charges, the indictment's clarity and the availability of discovery. While multi-defendant RICO cases often involve many charges, the Court finds that the indictment sufficiently apprises Movants of the charges against them. When combined with the Government's "open-file" discovery policy, the Court is more than satisfied that Movants can adequately prepare their case while avoiding surprise at trial and the risk of double jeopardy. Accordingly, Movants' motions are denied.


  For the foregoing reasons, Carman's [doc. no. 124] and Avila's [doc. no. 173] motions for a bill of particulars are denied.


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