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United States v.Mix Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Indictment

United States v.Mix Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Indictment

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Former BP engineer, Kurt E. Mix, was indicted for deleting text messages and voice mail messages in the face of impending legislation. In this document, U.S. District Judge Duval denis Mix' motion to dismiss the indictment.

Source: Pacer
Former BP engineer, Kurt E. Mix, was indicted for deleting text messages and voice mail messages in the face of impending legislation. In this document, U.S. District Judge Duval denis Mix' motion to dismiss the indictment.

Source: Pacer

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Published by: FindLaw on Oct 11, 2013
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10/17/2013

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTEASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANAUNITED STATES OF AMERICACRIMINAL ACTIONVERSUSNO. 12-171KURT E. MIXSECTION K(1)ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court are three motions:1)Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Pending Indictments for Facial Insufficiency(Doc. 449);2)Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count Two of the Pending Indictments as LegallyInsufficient (Doc. 450); and 3)Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Pending Indictments Due to ConstitutionalDefects in the Grand Jury Proceedings (Doc. 456).The Court will take these motions up seriatim; however, the Court will provide a brief overviewof its relevant previous rulings.
I. BACKGROUND
The facts and circumstances of this case have been set forth in detail before and will not be repeated here. The most salient rulings with regard to the above-listed motions are: (1) theoral ruling on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count Two of the Indictment rendered on November 8, 2012 (Doc. No. 512) and the Court's Order and Opinion with respect todefendant's "Motion
in Limine
to Preclude References to Unrecovered Voicemails, and for anorder Compelling Disclosure of Grand Jury Transcripts." (Doc. No. 470). The Courtincorporates by reference the analyses found in these two rulings; however, it will highlight whatit deems relevant in the context of the motions before it now.
Case 2:12-cr-00171-SRD-SS Document 544 Filed 10/10/13 Page 1 of 33
 
A.Relevant Rulings with Respect to November 8, 2012 Denial of Motion toDismiss Count Two of Original Indictment
The initial indictment in this matter was handed down by a grand jury on May 2, 2012,charging Kurt Mix ("Mix") with two counts of obstruction of justice for violating 18 U.S.C. §1512(c)(1) which provides in pertinent part that:Whoever corruptly– (1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair theobject’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding . .. shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 20years or both.18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1). In the initial indictment, Count One was based on Mix's alleged October 4, 2010 deletion from his iPhone of all texts in a string of texts with BP's then-DrillingEngineering Manager for the Gulf of Mexico ("Supervisor"). Count 2 was based on Mix'salleged August 19, 2011 deletion from his iPhone of all texts in a string of texts with an outsidecontractor ("Contractor").With respect to the initial indictment, Mix filed the aforementioned Motion to DismissCount Two of the Indictment. (Doc. 96). Defendant contended,
inter alia
1
, that the
1
Specifically, Mix urged in that motion that:1)None of the deleted messages had any plausible bearing on whether the Deep Water Horizonincident was a result of criminal activity or whether BP intentionally under-stated the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well;2)The Government refused to explain how deleting the messages could possibly have disturbe pending or contemplated judicial proceedings;3)As noted above, the Government’s view, i.e., that Mix can be convicted of obstruction of justiceeven where the allegedly withheld material has no possible consequence to the asserted grand jury proceeding, is wrong. Relying on
United States v. Aguilar 
, 515 U.S. 593, 599 (1995) defendantcontended that to establish the requisite “nexus” for a conviction for obstruction of justice, thegovernment must prove that the “natural and probable effect” of the defendant’s alleged actswas interference with the “due determination of justice[]”; and 4)The essential “nexus” required has an objective component; therefore, even if adefendant acts with an “evil purpose” to obstruct justice, he does not violate the statute if he“use[s] means that would ‘only unnaturally and improbably be successful’” in interfering with a
2
Case 2:12-cr-00171-SRD-SS Document 544 Filed 10/10/13 Page 2 of 33
 
Government's position that the defendant could be convicted of obstruction even where theallegedly withheld material had no possible consequence to the asserted grand jury was wrong.Defendant argued that to establish the requisite nexus for a conviction of obstruction of justice,the government must prove that the natural and probable effect of the defendant's alleged act wasinterference with the "due determination of justice." (Doc. 512, Transcript at 120.)In its oral reasons for denying the motion, the Court first noted that materiality is not anelement of the crime of obstruction of justice pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1).
 Id.
at 121.The Court also held that the nexus required to be proven for obstruction "requires only that thedeletion bears some relation in time, causation or logic to the judicial proceeding."
 Id.
at 121.In reaching that determination, this Court commented on
United States v. Aguilar 
, 115S.Ct. 2357, 2361 (1995), and stated:the Supreme Court examined the scope of the intent requirement under theOmnibus Clause of 18 U.S.C. §1503 which, prohibits “corruptly . . .influenc[ing], obstruct[ing], or imped[ing] or endeavor[ing] to influence,obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice.” The Supreme Courtapproved a “nexus” requirement previously adopted by a number of Courts of Appeals.
 Id.
at 2362. In surveying prior decisions of the Courts of Appeals, theSupreme Court noted that:Some courts have phrased the showing as a “nexus”requirement–that the act must have a
 
relationship in time,causation, or logic with the judicial proceedings. In other words,the endeavor must have the “natural and probable effect” of interfering with the due administration of justice. But . . . if thedefendant lacks knowledge that his actions are likely to affect the judicial proceeding he lacks the requisite intent to obstruct.
 Id.
(internal quotations and citations omitted). (Doc. 512, Transcript at 122-23).
 judicial proceeding.
3
Case 2:12-cr-00171-SRD-SS Document 544 Filed 10/10/13 Page 3 of 33

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