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United States v. Helton

January 21, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
NORTON HELTON, CHARLES WHITE, AND FELICIA FORD, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on the parties' motions in limine. For the reasons stated below, we grant in part and deny in part the motions.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendants' Motions

Defendants have moved to adopt all the motions of their co-Defendants. We grant the motions to adopt.

A. General Rule 404(b) Motion

On November 4, 2009, Defendant Felicia Ford (Ford) and Defendant Charles White (White) jointly moved to bar the Government from introducing any bad act evidence, as referenced in Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) (Rule 404(b)), regarding any of Defendants' pre or post-indictment activity. The Government contends that the motion should be denied because Defendants do not identify exactly what evidence Defendants seek to bar in the motion. (Ans. 4-5). Defendants must do more than cite to Rule 404(b) and make general references to prior bad conduct. Defendants have not provided sufficient details concerning the evidence that Defendants seek to bar in the motion. Therefore, the general Rule 404(b) motion is denied.

B. Privileged Communications

Defendants seek to bar all communications between Defendant Norton Helton (Helton) and his clients while Helton was acting as a legal representative for those clients. Defendants also seek to bar any communications between Helton and his own counsel. The Government indicates that it does not intend to introduce privileged communications except where the attorney-client privilege has been waived. Therefore, we deny the motion without prejudice. If the Government seeks to introduce evidence that Defendants believe is still protected by the attorney-client privilege, Defendants renew their objection.

C. Hearsay and Relevancy Objections

Defendants have moved to bar an extensive list of evidence based on hearsay and relevancy objections. The Government indicates that it does not intend to seek the admission of most of the evidence on Defendants' list, and that such objections can be resolved at trial if necessary. (Ans. 8). Defendants have also moved generally to bar the introduction of all hearsay at trial. Such relevancy and hearsay objections are premature and can be properly made at trial, if and when the Government seeks to introduce evidence that warrants a relevancy or hearsay objection. Therefore, the motions are denied without prejudice.

D. Motion to Sever

Defendants have filed a motion to sever Helton's trial from the trial of White and Ford. On April 22, 2009, we denied a previous motion by Ford and White to sever their trials from Helton's trial. Defendants indicate in their motions to sever that Helton and White may invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and would therefore refuse to provide exculpatory evidence in support of their co-defendants. However, as pointed out by the Government, if Helton and White intend to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, that right can be asserted in a severed trial as well as a joint trial. Defendants have not shown that any new facts warrant severing the trials at this juncture. There has not been a showing that any of the Defendants will be unduly prejudiced by the joinder of all Defendants or that any Defendants will be ...


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