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United States v. Johnson

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS DANVILLE/URBANA DIVISION


January 29, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KEITH BENNETT JOHNSON, DEFENDANT.

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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Before the Court is Defendant Keith Bennett Johnson's Motion for New Trial (Doc. 31) filed pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 33.

Defendant Bennett states only that the evidence was insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He has not submitted a brief in support of his motion, as he states that he has filed this motion only to preserve the standard of review on appeal. The Government has not filed a response. Having reviewed the motion, the Court, in its discretion, has determined that a hearing on Defendant's motion is unnecessary. See United States v. Hedman, 655 F.2d 813, 814 (7th Cir. 1981).

Keith Bennett Johnson was found guilty by a jury as to Count 1 of the Indictment (Doc. 35). Count 1 charged Keith Bennett Johnson with filing a false lien against a federal officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1521.

II. Legal Standard

Under FEDERAL RULE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 33, a defendant may move for a new trial. Upon review, the Court "may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires." FED.R.CRIM.P. 33(a). If the basis for seeking a new trial is not due to new evidence then the Court must determine if a new trial is warranted because there exists a "reasonable possibility that a trial error had a prejudicial effect upon the jury's verdict." United States v. Van Eyl, 468 F.3d 428, 436 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing United States v. Berry, 92 F.3d 597, 600 (7th Cir. 1996)). A new trial may also be warranted where "trial errors or omissions have jeopardized the defendant's substantial rights." United States v. Reed, 986 F.2d 191, 192 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing United States v. Kuzniar, 881 F.2d 466, 470 (7th Cir. 1989)). Such a determination is completely within the Court's sound discretion. United States v. Reed, 875 F.2d 107, 113 (7th Cir. 1989)(citing United States v. Nero, 733 F.2d 1197, 1202 (7th Cir. 1984)). However, the Court should be mindful that the power bestowed by Rule 33 to grant a new trial should only be done in the "most 'extreme cases.'" United States v. Linwood, 142 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 1989) (quoting United States v. Morales, 902 F.2d 604, 605 (7th Cir. 1990)).

III. Discussion

Defendant Johnson's sole argument in his motion for new trial is that the evidence was insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.*fn1 The Court however finds that the evidence was more than sufficient to support the verdict. The Government presented evidence and the Defendant pursued a vigorous cross examination of the Government's evidence. Ultimately, the jury decided the credibility issue against the Defendant. This will not warrant a new trial and the Court finds that the evidence was not insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

IV. Conclusion

Accordingly, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion for new trial (Doc. 31).

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Signed this 29th day of January, 2010.

David R. Herndon District Judge United States District Court


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