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United States v. Santiago

February 8, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ADALBERTO SANTIAGO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Adalberto Santiago's ("Santiago") motion for the entry of a judgment of acquittal and motion for a new trial. For the reasons stated below, we deny both motions.

BACKGROUND

On January 22, 2007, a jury trial began in this action. On January 26, 2007, the jury returned a verdict of guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance (Count I) and distribution of a controlled substance (Count II). Santiago now requests that the court either vacate the jury's verdict and enter a judgment of acquittal, or in the alternative grant Santiago a new trial.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 provides, in part, the following:

(c) After Jury Verdict or Discharge.

(1) Time for a Motion. A defendant may move for a judgment of acquittal, or renew such a motion, within 7 days after a guilty verdict or after the court discharges the jury, whichever is later.

(2) Ruling on the Motion. If the jury has returned a guilty verdict, the court may set aside the verdict and enter an acquittal. If the jury has failed to return a verdict, the court may enter a judgment of acquittal.

(3) No Prior Motion Required. A defendant is not required to move for a judgment of acquittal before the court submits the case to the jury as a prerequisite for making

(d) Conditional Ruling on a Motion for a New Trial.

(1) Motion for a New Trial. If the court enters a judgment of acquittal after a guilty verdict, the court must also conditionally determine whether any motion for a new trial should be granted if the judgment of acquittal is later vacated or reversed. The court must specify the reasons for that determination.

Fed. R. Crim. P. 29. A court should only enter a judgment of acquittal "if there is insufficient evidence to sustain the jury's findings" and "[u]nder this standard, a trial judge should reverse a jury verdict only if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the record contains no evidence on which a rational jury could have returned a guilty verdict." United States v. Murphy, 406 F.3d 857, 861 (7th Cir. 2005). Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 ("Rule 33") provides, in part, the following:

(a) Defendant's Motion. Upon the defendant's motion, the court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires. If the case was tried without a jury, the court may ...


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