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hutaree

hutaree

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Published by: tpmdocs on Mar 27, 2012
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03/28/2012

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTEASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGANSOUTHERN DIVISIONUNITED STATES OF AMERICA,Plaintiff,v.Case No: 10-20123Honorable Victoria A. RobertsDAVID BRIAN STONE, ET AL.,Defendants. _________________________________/ 
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL ON COUNTS 1-7I.INTRODUCTION
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ motions for judgment of acquittalpursuant to Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Each Defendant filedan individual motion. The Government filed a response in opposition to Defendants’motions (Doc. 761). A hearing was held on March 26, 2012.The Court considered the parties’ arguments and reviewed the evidence offeredat trial. Defendants’ motions are
GRANTED
.
II.BACKGROUND
Defendants are charged with: (1) Seditious Conspiracy (18 U.S.C. § 2384); (2)Conspiracy to use Weapons of Mass Destruction (18 U.S.C. § 2332a(a)(2)); (3) Useand Carrying of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence (18 U.S.C. §924(c)(1)); and (4) Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence (18
2:10-cr-20123-VAR-PJK Doc # 767 Filed 03/27/12 Pg 1 of 28 Pg ID 5291
 
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U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)). In addition, Defendants David Stone, David Stone, Jr., and JoshuaStone are charged with weapons-related offenses.Trial began at the beginning of February. The Government’s proofs closed onMarch 22, 2012; the following day Defendants filed Motions for Judgment of Acquittaland concurrences in each others’ Motions. Defendants move for acquittal on theconspiracy charges (Counts I and II), as well as the charges dependent on theexistence of the conspiracies (Counts III-VII). On March 25, the Government responded.The Court heard arguments on March 26.
III.ANALYSISA.Standard of Review
Rule 29(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allows defendants tomove for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the prosecution’s case. It reads:
(a) Before Submission to the Jury.
After the government closes its evidence orafter the close of all the evidence, the court on the defendant's motion must entera judgment of acquittal of any offense for which the evidence is insufficient tosustain a conviction. The court may on its own consider whether the evidence isinsufficient to sustain a conviction. If the court denies a motion for a judgment ofacquittal at the close of the government's evidence, the defendant may offerevidence without having reserved the right to do so.In reviewing a Rule 29 motion, “the relevant question is whether, after viewing theevidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact couldhave found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Jackson v.Virginia 
, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979). Though the Court may “draw reasonable inferencesfrom basic facts to ultimate facts,”
see id.
, it must be mindful that “charges of conspiracyare not to be made out by piling inference upon inference.”
Ingram v. United States,
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360 U.S. 672, 680 (1959) (quoting
Direct Sales Co. v. United States 
, 319 U.S. 703, 711(1943)).
B.Conspiracy Law and the First Amendment
In order to sustain a conviction for conspiracy, the Government must prove thateach Defendant: (1) agreed to violate the law; (2) possessed the knowledge and intentto join the conspiracy; and (3) participated in the conspiracy.
See United States v.Sliwo 
, 620 F.3d 630, 633 (6th Cir. 2010);
see also 
Sixth Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions§§ 3.01A, 3.03 (To prove a conspiracy, the government must show that (1) two or moreindividuals conspired to commit the crime; and (2) that each defendant voluntarily joinedthe conspiracy, knowing of its main purpose and intending to help advance its goals.).In addition, a conspiracy requires a specific plan.
See Pinkerton v. United States 
, 145F.2d 252, 254 (5th Cir. 1944) (holding that a criminal conspiracy requires (1) an objectto be accomplished; (2) a plan or scheme embodying means to accomplish that object;(3) an agreement by two or more defendants to accomplish the object; and (4) an overtact, where applicable);
see also United States v. Bostic 
, 480 F.2d 965, 968 (6thCir.1973).“The elements of a conspiracy may be proven entirely by circumstantialevidence, but each element of the offense must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”
United States v. Wexler 
, 838 F.2d 88, 90 (3d Cir. 1988) (citations omitted). Indeed, it iscommon for a conspiracy to be proved by circumstantial evidence; a criminal agreementis rarely explicit. Thus, in the absence of “proof of a formal agreement among theconspirators . . . a tacit or mutual understanding . . . is sufficient to show a conspiracy.”
United States v. Lee 
, 991 F.2d 343, 348 (6th Cir. 1993). “One of the requisite elements
2:10-cr-20123-VAR-PJK Doc # 767 Filed 03/27/12 Pg 3 of 28 Pg ID 5293

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