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United States of America v. Christopher West

March 9, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHRISTOPHER WEST, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

In this decision, the Court considers the government's motion to quash portions of subpoenas to federal agencies (docket no. 730) and its motion in limine to preclude evidence or argument related to a duress defense (docket no. 705).

Background

The defendants in this case are charged with a variety of offenses involving contracts the defendant entities had with the U.S. military to supply "bunkers and barriers" at Bagram Air Field (BAF) in Afghanistan. The government contends the defendants bribed U.S. military personnel to obtain the contracts and to get paid in full even though they delivered less than the full quantities for which the military had contracted. The indictment includes charges of bribery, fraud, and conspiracy.

The case was previously assigned to former Judge David Coar, who referred certain pretrial matters to Magistrate Judge Martin Ashman. The case was reassigned to the undersigned judge's docket due to Judge Coar's impending retirement. It is set for trial on April 25, 2011.

Discussion

1. Government's motion to quash subpoenas (docket no. 730)

The government has moved to quash, in part, certain subpoenas that defendants served well over a year ago on various federal agencies, seeking a variety of documents. The propriety of the subpoenas was previously the subject of protracted litigation before both Magistrate Judge Ashman and Judge Coar. In September 2010, Magistrate Judge Ashman made a series of rulings regarding the subpoenas, some of which Judge Coar modified in October 2010. The Court wishes to make it clear at the outset that it does not intend to allow either side to relitigate matters concerning the subpoenas that were decided during the course of that protracted litigation. Nor does it intend to allow either side to litigate now any matter that it had the opportunity to litigate before but chose to forego.*fn1

With this background in mind, the Court considers the points raised in the government's motion to quash.

a. Requests 8, 9, and 12(d)

Defendants note in their response to the government's motion that the government has not sought to quash requests 8, 9, and 12(d) of the subpoenas. Judge Coar narrowed each of these requests in an order dated October 12, 2010 and directed the government to produce responsive records within fourteen days thereafter. See Order of Oct. 12, 2010 (docket no. 678). Both defendants and the Court had, and have, the right to assume that the government has complied with Judge Coar's order to produce documents responsive to those requests as narrowed. The government is directed to provide a written confirmation by no later than the close of business on March 14, 2011 that it has complied with these requests as modified by Judge Coar.

b. Request 4

In Request 4, defendants sought records concerning "any warlords and/or armed militia groups operating in the vicinity of [BAF] or other United States military installations in Afghanistan, or on the highways and/or roads to or from such locations." Defs.' Resp. to Govt.'s Mot. to Quash, Ex. 2. Magistrate Judge Ashman narrowed this request to "records that identify any warlord and/or armed militia groups operating within a fifteen-mile radius of [BAF] and/or Camp Salerno in Afghanistan from September 1, 2003 - June 30, 2006." Order of Sept. 7, 2010 (docket no. 637) at 1.

Following an appeal by the government, Judge Coar ruled as follows: Production of all records identifying any warlord operating within 15 miles of [BAF] goes beyond what is necessary for this case. Defendants argue that the information is necessary to establish that warlords capable of doing violence exist and operate in the vicinity of BAF. The parties have expressed a willingness to discuss a stipulation that will attest to that fact. Defendants also seek to corroborate their testimony regarding certain individuals whom they claim to be warlords. If Defendants have a specific name in mind, then records relating to the status of that person may be relevant.

The Court withholds ruling on Request #4 until the parties have had an opportunity to discuss a stipulation of fact that appropriately addresses these issues.

Order of Oct. 12, 2010 (docket no. 678) at 1.

There were two parts to Judge Coar's order concerning Request 4. First, he suggested a stipulation that warlords capable of doing violence operated in the vicinity of BAF. Second, he also indicated that if defendants could identify particular ...


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