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United States v. Jones

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

February 11, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ANTHONY JONES

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, District Judge.

On December 15, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted Defendant Anthony Jones[1] in a one count Indictment charging that he distributed approximately 60 grams of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. ยง 841(a)(1). He was convicted after a bench trial on October 8, 2013. Jones represented himself at trial, despite being given several opportunities to have court-appointed representation. See United States v. Jones, 2013 WL 3306434, at *2 (N.D. Ill. July 1, 2013). Soon thereafter, he filed the present Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal and a "Denial of Consent." For the reasons stated below, Jones's motions are denied.

BACKGROUND

I. Proceedings Before July 1, 2013

The Indictment (Dkt. No. 1) charges that Jones distributed approximately 60 grams of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base on July 8, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. After Jones was indicted, he was arrested within the Northern District of Illinois on December 19, 2011.

Jones was arraigned on December 20, 2011, and the Court appointed him counsel at this time. (Dkt. No. 8.) However, on January 23, 2012, appointed counsel moved to withdraw because she was unable to devote the time required to prepare Jones's defense. (Dkt. No. 16.) The Court granted her motion to withdraw and appointed a second attorney, from the Federal Defender program, to represent Jones on February 1, 2012. (Dkt. No. 18.) On October 19, 2012, this second attorney moved to withdraw due to irreconcilable differences, stating also that Jones directed her to file the motion to withdraw. (Dkt. No. 33.) A third attorney was provided to Jones on October 25, 2012. (Dkt. No. 35.)

In a status hearing on February 7, 2013, the third attorney informed the Court that he was experiencing difficulty working with Jones. (Dkt. No. 47; Transcript of February 7, 2013 Status Hearing, at 3, 5.) The difficulties persisted and the Court allowed this attorney to withdraw as Jones's attorney on March 4, 2013. (Dkt. No. 57.) At this time, the Court held a formal hearing pursuant to Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), and informed Jones of the risks associated with representing himself. After explaining these risks, the Court offered Jones an opportunity to change his mind and to work and proceed with that attorney. Jones again declined representation, and the Court allowed him to represent himself pro se. The Court then appointed the third attorney to serve as standby counsel as Jones proceeded pro se. Jones, 2013 WL 3306434, at *3-4.

II. Pre-Trial Proceedings

Shortly after Jones went pro se, he continued a practice that he started while represented by counsel-he filed numerous documents with the Court that were typically labeled "Affidavit of Truth and Fact." ( See, e.g., Dkt. Nos. 60-66.) At Jones's request, the Court treated the filings as a motion to dismiss the Indictment. The Court subsequently denied that motion on July 1, 2013. Jones, 2013 WL 3306434, at *5. Undeterred, Jones continued filing similar motions, all of which were ultimately rejected by the Court.

Meanwhile, the Government prepared for trial by filing proposed jury instructions and motions in limine on September 9 and 25. (Dkt. Nos. 92, 93, 97.) Jones responded to the Government's motion in limine by "denying consent" to it. (Dkt. No. 100.)[2] The Court rejected this objection as an improper challenge. (Dkt. No. 108.) On September 24, 2013, the Government mailed Jones its expert witness disclosures as required by Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Dkt. No. 114-2.) The next day, it mailed Jones a copy of the phone transcripts it intended to use at trial (Jones had previously been given an identical copy in January 2012) and a page it inadvertently omitted from its expert witness disclosure letter. (Dkt. Nos. 114-1 and 114-3.) These documents were mailed to the same address Jones had specifically requested the Government use when corresponding with him since December 2012. (Dkt. No. 42 at p. 9.)

On October 1, 2013, the Court held a pretrial conference, during which it asked the Government to reply to Jones's various filings. The Government did so, and the Court denied each of Jones's substantive motions. (Dkt. Nos. 108, 109.) During a subsequent status hearing on October 3, 2013, the Court explained to Jones his right to jury trial and the logistics of how such a trial would be conducted. At this point, Jones waived his right to a jury trial and chose to have the Court determine his innocence or guilt after a bench trial. (Dkt. No. 107.)

III. Trial

Jones's trial commenced on October 8, 2013. (Dkt. No. 110.) At the outset, Jones indicated that the Government rejected his offer in their plea negotiations, and that as such, he would not "participate[] in this procedure."[3] Jones did not give an opening statement or make a closing argument. The Government called as witnesses Special Agent Andrew Karceski, Special Agent Chris Labno, and Forensic Chemist Allison Kidder-Mostrom. Each witness put forth evidence supporting the Government's case that Jones knowingly distributed a cocaine base. Jones did not cross-examine any of these witnesses. When the Government moved to admit exhibits into evidence, the Court asked Jones if he had any objections, and each time-ten in total-Jones responded only that he objected to the "whole proceedings." And although not obligated to do so, Jones also did not present any evidence of his own when the Government rested its case. At the conclusion of the trial, the Court found Jones guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of distributing 60.2 grams of cocaine base (crack cocaine). Approximately one month later, Jones filed the present motions.

DISCUSSION

I. Rule 29 - Motion for a Judgment ...


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