804 F.Supp. 925 (E.D.Mich. 1992), 90-80941, United States v. Rugiero

Docket Nº:90-80941.
Citation:804 F.Supp. 925
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Patrick RUGIERO, and Ara Basmadjian, et al., Defendants.
Case Date:October 16, 1992
Court:United States District Courts, 6th Circuit, Eastern District of Michigan
 
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Page 925

804 F.Supp. 925 (E.D.Mich. 1992)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,

v.

Patrick RUGIERO, and Ara Basmadjian, et al., Defendants.

No. 90-80941.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division.

Oct. 16, 1992

Page 926

Stephen J. Markman, U.S. Atty., by Richard L. Delonis, Asst. U.S. Atty., Detroit, Mich., for plaintiff.

N.C. Deday Larene, Detroit, Mich., William E. Bufalino, II, St. Clair Shores, Mich., for defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL

GADOLA, District Judge.

On June 19, 1992, defendant Patrick Rugiero was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to distribute, or possess with intent to distribute, cocaine and heroin. Also on June 19, 1992, and in the same proceeding, defendant Ara Basmadjian was convicted of conspiracy to distribute, or possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, and of distribution of heroin.

On June 23, 1992, following further deliberations of the same jury within the same proceeding, defendant Patrick Rugiero was convicted of distribution of cocaine.

Page 927

On June 23, 1992, the court issued a stipulation and order extending the time for filing a motion for new trial. On July 28, 1992, defendants filed this motion for new trial. On August 31, 1992, the government filed an answer to defendants' motion for new trial. Defendants Patrick Rugiero and Ara Basmadjian, on August 27, 1992 and September 4, 1992, respectively, filed motions for bond pending appeal of the issues raised in the defendants' motion for new trial.

FACTS

On June 16, 1992, at the conclusion of a trial before a jury, this case was submitted to the jury for deliberations as to defendants Patrick Rugiero, Ara Basmadjian, and Anthony Rugiero. On the evening of June 17, 1992, certain local news broadcasts reported that one of defendant Patrick Rugiero's trial counsel was the subject of a federal criminal investigation. On the morning of June 18, 1992, the court and the parties met in chambers for the purpose of discussing how to proceed in light of the publicity. All agreed that the appropriate course of action would be to defer any inquiry of the jurors until such time that jury deliberations had been concluded and any verdicts had been reached.

At the conclusion of their deliberations on June 18, 1992, the jury reported to the court's clerk that it had reached verdicts. Because of the unavailability of the court and the parties, the jurors were excused for the day and directed to return the next morning.

On June 19, 1992, while en route from the jury assembly room to the court's jury room, a juror handed a court security officer a note containing comments critical of the deliberations and of certain verdicts. The note made no reference to the aforementioned publicity nor to any other extraneous occurrence having influenced the jury. Shortly after convening in the jury room, the jury sent the court a note indicating that it had reached its verdict. Moments later, another note, written by the same complaining juror who had written the first note, was received by the court. The juror asked that her first note be disregarded and confirmed that, in fact, a unanimous decision had been reached.

Defense counsel requested that the court, before taking any verdict, make an inquiry of the juror who wrote the notes, regarding the proceedings in the jury room which preceded the sending of the juror's notes. Pursuant to rule 606(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence, the court denied this request for inquiry of the juror who wrote the notes, since the notes gave no indication either that any extraneous prejudicial information had been improperly brought to the jury's attention or that any outside influence had been improperly brought to bear upon any juror. 1 Rule 606(b) forbids inquiry of a juror regarding any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury's deliberations or to the effect of anything upon that or any other juror's mind or emotions as influencing the juror to assent to or dissent from the verdict, or concerning the juror's mental processes in connection therewith. A juror may neither testify to such matters nor may an affidavit or evidence of any statement of the juror concerning such matters be received. The only exceptions are, as above stated, evidence of extraneous prejudicial information brought to the jury's attention or outside influence improperly brought to bear upon a juror, and the juror's notes did not so reflect or so indicate. Further, the court had the...

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