459 F.3d 1121 (11th Cir. 2006), 01-17176, United States v. Campa

Docket Nº:01-17176, 03-11087.
Citation:459 F.3d 1121
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Ruben CAMPA, a.k.a. John Doe 3, a.k.a. Vicky, a.k.a. Camilo, a.k.a. Oscar, Rene Gonzalez, a.k.a. Iselin, a.k.a. Castor, Gerardo Hernandez, a.k.a. Giro, a.k.a. Manuel Viramontez, a.k.a. John Doe 1, a.k.a. Manuel Viramontes, Luis Medina, a.k.a. Oso, a.k.a. Johnny, a.k.a. Allan, a.k.a. John Doe 2, Anton
Case Date:August 09, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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459 F.3d 1121 (11th Cir. 2006)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Ruben CAMPA, a.k.a. John Doe 3, a.k.a. Vicky, a.k.a. Camilo, a.k.a. Oscar, Rene Gonzalez, a.k.a. Iselin, a.k.a. Castor, Gerardo Hernandez, a.k.a. Giro, a.k.a. Manuel Viramontez, a.k.a. John Doe 1, a.k.a. Manuel Viramontes, Luis Medina, a.k.a. Oso, a.k.a. Johnny, a.k.a. Allan, a.k.a. John Doe 2, Antonio Guerrero, a.k.a. Rolando Gonzalez-Diaz, a.k.a. Lorient, Defendants-Appellants.

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Gerardo Hernandez, a.k.a. Giro, a.k.a. Manuel Viramontez, a.k.a. John Doe 1, a.k.a. Manuel Viramontes, Luis Medina, a.k.a. Oso, a.k.a. Johnny, a.k.a. Allan, a.k.a. John Doe 2, Rene Gonzalez, a.k.a. Iselin, a.k.a. Castor, Antonio Guerrero, a.k.a. Rolando Gonzalez-Diaz, a.k.a. Lorient, Ruben Campa, a.k.a. John Doe 3, a.k.a. Vicky, a.k.a. Camilo, a.k.a. Oscar, Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 01-17176, 03-11087.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

Aug. 9, 2006

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Brenda G. Bryn, Fed. Pub. Def., Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Philip Robert Horowitz (Court-Appointed), Law Office of Philip R. Horowitz, Paul A. McKenna (Court-Appointed), McKenna & Obront, William M. Norris (Court-Appointed), William M. Norris, P.A., Kathleen M. Williams and Richard C. Klugh, Fed. Pub. Defenders, Joaquin Mendez, Jr., Joaquin Mendez, P.A., Jack R. Blumenfeld (Court-Appointed), Orlando do Campo, Asst. Fed. Pub. Def., Miami, FL, Leonard L. Weinglass, New York City, for Appellants.

Anne R. Schultz, David Marc Buckner, Caroline Heck Miller, Miami, FL, for U.S.

Erik Luna, University of Utah College of Law, Salt Lake City, UT, Carl Peter Erlinder, William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN, Ricardo Javier Bascuas, Ricardo

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J. Bascuas, P.A., Edward G. Guedes, Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Antonio C. Castro, Boles, Schiller & Flexner, LLP, Francisco Ramos, Jr., Clarke, Sirverglate, Campbell, Williams & Montgomery, Rodolfo Sorondo, Jr., Miami, FL, Corali Lopez-Castro, Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton, P.A., Coral Gables, FL, for Amici Curiae.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before EDMONDSON, Chief Judge, and TJOFLAT, BIRCH, DUBINA, BLACK, CARNES, BARKETT, HULL, MARCUS, WILSON, PRYOR and KRAVITCH [*], Circuit Judges.

WILSON, Circuit Judge:

This case involves the Miami trial and conviction of five defendants for acting and conspiring to act as unregistered Cuban intelligence agents working within the United States and for conspiring to commit murder. The defendants, Ruben Campa, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina, and Antonio Guerrero, appealed their convictions and sentences, arguing that the pervasive community prejudice against the Cuban government and its agents and the publicity surrounding the trial that existed in Miami prevented them from obtaining a fair and impartial trial. We reviewed this case en banc to determine whether the district court abused its discretion when it denied their multiple motions for change of venue and for new trial. We now affirm. 1

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Indictments

On September 12, 1998, the five defendants were arrested, and were subsequently indicted on October 2, 1998, for acting and conspiring to act as agents of the Republic of Cuba without prior notification to the Attorney General of the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 951(a) and 2 and 28 C.F.R. § 73.1 et seq., and of defrauding the United States concerning its governmental functions, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. 2 The indictment alleged:

[The defendants] function[ed] as covert spies serving the interests of the government of the Republic of Cuba within the United States by gathering and transmitting information to the Cuban government concerning United States military installations, government functions and private political activity; by infiltrating, informing on and manipulating anti-Castro Cuban political groups in Miami-Dade County; by sowing disinformation within these political groups and in dealings with United States private and public institutions; and by carrying out other operational directives of

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the Cuban government. 3

Hernandez, Medina, and Guerrero were also charged with conspiring to deliver to Cuba "information relating to the national defense of the United States, ... intending and having reason to believe that the [information] would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of [Cuba]," in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 794(a), (c), and 2. 4 Hernandez was also indicted for conspiracy to perpetrate murder in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1111 and 2, in connection with the Cuban military's shootdown of two United States-registered civilian aircraft on February 24, 1996, in violation of 18 U.S.C.§§ 1117 and 2. 5 Hernandez, Medina, and Campa were indicted for possession of a counterfeit United States passport, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1546(a) and 2, and possession of fraudulent identification documents in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1028(a)(3), (b)(2)(B), (c)(3), and 2. 6 Medina was indicted for making a false statement to obtain a United States passport, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1542 and 2. 7 Hernandez, Medina, and Campa were indicted for causing individuals they oversaw to act as unregistered foreign agents without prior notification to the Attorney General, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 951 and 2 and 28 C.F.R. § 73.1 et seq. 8 Their trial was set to proceed in the Southern District of Florida in Miami.

Shortly after the indictments were returned and upon the government's motion, on October 20, 1998, the court entered a gag order ordering all parties and their attorneys to abide by Southern District of Florida Local Rule 77.2. 9 The parties and their attorneys were ordered to "refrain from releasing 'information or opinion which a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication, in connection with pending or imminent criminal litigation' where ' such dissemination will interfere with a fair trial or otherwise prejudice the due administration of justice.' " 10

B. Pretrial Change of Venue Motions

On August 16, 1999, Medina filed a motion for authorization of funds to conduct a survey of the Miami-Dade County community, as a predicate for a motion for change of venue. 11 Medina requested authorization to engage Florida International University Psychology Professor Gary Patrick Moran for $9,500 to conduct a poll of a representative sample of the population of Miami-Dade County to determine whether it was a fair venue for the trial. 12 Moran proposed a "standard" telephone poll of 300 people. 13 The district court granted Medina's motion. 14

In January of 2000, Campa, Gonzalez, Guerrero, and Medina each moved for a change of venue out of the Southern District of Florida. 15 They argued that they

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would be denied due process and a fair trial with an impartial jury as a result of the pervasive community prejudice in Miami against anyone associated with the Cuban government. 16 In support of their motions, they submitted the results of Professor Moran's survey and numerous news articles. 17

Moran's survey consisted of 11 opinion and 21 demographic questions designed "to examine prejudice against anyone alleged to have assisted the Castro Cuban government in espionage activities." 18 Focus On Miami, a data collection company located in Miami-Dade County, was retained to conduct the survey by telephone. 19 In Section 1 of the survey, the interviewer made a series of 11 statements and questions regarding the defendants' alleged illegal conduct and general statements about Cuba and Castro to which the respondent was instructed to answer either "agree strongly," "agree," "disagree," "disagree strongly," or "don't know." 20 In Section 2 of the survey, the interviewer asked a series of 21 demographic questions designed to gather information about the respondent's background, lifestyle, media exposure, and involvement in pro- or anti-Cuba groups. 21

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According to Professor Moran, the results of the survey indicated that 69% (with a sampling error of 5.3%) of eligible jurors were prejudiced. 22 Around 40% of the respondents (60% of the Hispanic respondents) "indicate[d] that they would find it difficult to be impartial." 23 Around 90% "would not change their minds under any circumstances." 24 Finally, approximately one-third of the respondents were "at least somewhat worried about community criticism in the event of a 'not guilty' verdict." 25 Based on these results, Professor Moran concluded the following:

I conclude ... to a reasonable scientific certitude that a change of venue from the Miami Division of the Southern Federal District of Florida is the only viable means of assuring the defendant a fair and impartial jury. The results of the survey suggest that a jury chosen from the District will hold firm opinions prejudicial to this defendant that cannot be put aside. A reasonable likelihood of prejudice endangering the right to a fair trial exists. 26

Moran further noted that two prior surveys from the early 1980's and from 1997, which also evaluated the Southern District of Florida, reached similar conclusions. 27 According to Moran, this suggested that prejudicial opinions in the Southern District of Florida were "fixed" and "[could not] be set aside." 28

In addition to Moran's survey, the defendants also submitted numerous newspaper articles on their case and other Cuba-related issues. 29 They argued that these articles...

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