884 F.2d 1524 (1st Cir. 1989), 89-1698, United States v. Ramirez

Docket Nº:89-1698 to 89-1703.
Citation:884 F.2d 1524
Party Name:UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. Daniel Phisco RAMIREZ, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. Jairo VANEGAS-ORTIZ, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. Jose Victor SANTIAGO-ESCOBAR, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. Roberto PIEDRAHITA-SANTIAGO, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. Anibal PELAEZ-ESCOB
Case Date:September 15, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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884 F.2d 1524 (1st Cir. 1989)



Daniel Phisco RAMIREZ, Defendant, Appellant.



Jairo VANEGAS-ORTIZ, Defendant, Appellant.



Jose Victor SANTIAGO-ESCOBAR, Defendant, Appellant.



Roberto PIEDRAHITA-SANTIAGO, Defendant, Appellant.



Anibal PELAEZ-ESCOBAR, Defendant, Appellant.



Reyes CARDALES-BARRIOS, Defendant, Appellant.

Nos. 89-1698 to 89-1703.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

September 15, 1989

Heard Aug. 4, 1989.

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Jose C. Romo Matienzo, Hato Rey, P.R., for appellant Daniel Phisco ramirez.

John E. Mudd, San Juan, P.R., for appellant Jairo Vanegas Ortiz.

Luis Roberto Santos, Mayaguez, P.R., for appellant Jose Victor Santiago-Escobar.

Luis A. Medina Torres, for appellant Roberto Piedrahita-Santiago.

Yolanda Collazo Rodriguez, Los Angeles, Cal., for appellant Anibal Pelaez-Escobar.

Luis Rafael Rivera, for appellant Reyes Cardales-Barrios.

Warren Vazquez, Asst. U.S. Atty., Guaynabo, P.R., with whom Daniel F. Lopez Romo, U.S. Atty., Hato Rey, P.R., was on brief for the U.S.

Before BOWNES, TORRUELLA and SELYA, Circuit Judges.

BOWNES, Circuit Judge.

These are six appeals from an order of the district court denying defendants' motions to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that continuing the trial would violate their rights against double jeopardy. We stayed the trial pending resolution of the double jeopardy issue. See Abney v. United States, 431 U.S. 651, 662, 97 S.Ct. 2034, 2041, 52 L.Ed.2d 651 (1977).


Defendants were indicted on May 17, 1989 for violations of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2 (aider and abettor = principal) and 46 U.S.C.App. Sec. 1903(a), (c) & (f). The indictment charged that on May 12, 1989, the defendants were on board a vessel without nationality on the high seas, and aiding and abetting each other did knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully possess with intent to distribute approximately 4,538.18 kilograms of marijuana. At their arraignment, all defendants pled not guilty.

A jury was selected and sworn on July 11, 1989, and direct examination of the government's first witness was completed. There can be no doubt that jeopardy had attached. See Serfass v. United States, 420 U.S. 377, 388, 95 S.Ct. 1055, 1062, 43 L.Ed.2d 265 (1975). After the trial was adjourned for the day, the prosecutor was advised of a jury selection problem that had come to light in another unrelated case. In that case, the district judge terminated the jury selection process, dissolved the jury, and set another trial date. The venire from which the jurors were selected for defendants' trial was the same as the one used in the aborted case.

On the next day, July 12, just before trial was to start, the prosecutor informed the judge and counsel of what he perceived to be a flaw in the random selection of the venire. 1 The flaw as stated by the prosecutor was

that due to the small amount of jurors that were available, many of the jurors were called by phone and that this clerk gave them the option to appear, if they

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could appear, or be excused if they could not make it to court if they could form part of the jury.

The prosecutor further stated he had been informed that in the other case the district judge had found that the method used to obtain the jury venire violated the random selection process required under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1866.

After the prosecutor had finished his exposition the court stated:

There is no question. If they were just called not from the list, without following just the whim of the jury clerk, that is clear, crystal clear, that that violated the randomness requirement and in that case I will leave, of course, the option to the attorneys for the defendants to move or not move for a mistrial at this time and to dissolve the jury. You can do it, whatever you want. If you request that this jury be dissolved, I will do it. If you want to consult among yourselves and you are happy and satisfied with the jury that you have now, we can continue but you have the option. I will recess.

After a question from one of the defense attorneys, the court stated: "You can consult among yourselves and let me know, with the caveat, that if you request that this jury be dissolved, I will dissolve it. If you want the jury to continue, then we can continue. It is your just choice." After a recess of more than an hour, counsel for the defendants made known their wishes to the court.

Attorney Luis Medina, who represented defendant Roberto Piedrahita-Santiago, requested that the court declare a mistrial. Defendant Anibal Pelaez-Escobar, through his attorney Yolanda Collazo Rodriguez, also requested a mistrial. The four other defendants, through their respective attorneys, 2 informed the court that they wished to continue the trial with the jurors already selected. Attorney Mudd requested a recess until the next day so he could research the question of double jeopardy. The court assured him that "you will have plenty of time for that." Attorney Romo stated:

However, we believe that the way the court at the beginning of this trial instructed the accused on how the jury selection was done, obviously was not the same way the Assistant District Attorney explained the way it really was done. So, looking into that, if there was a violation, a constitutional violation, obviously there should be a mistrial. We have a dilemma, however, that if we raise a mistrial without violation of constitutional rights, we will not be able to raise a double jeopardy and that is why our brother counsel asked for more time to study the point.

We don't want in any way to affect our defendant's right, so, our request is to continue with this jury trial but if the court decided there has been a violation of the constitutional right of the defendant, we join them, the request for the mistrial.

The court then had the prosecutor repeat what he had been informed occurred in the other case. The prosecutor told the court that in the other case there had been testimony by the jury clerks and deputy clerk as to how the jury venire was selected. The court then decided to have the jury clerk and deputy clerk testify as to the procedure that had been followed in selecting the venire.

The jury clerk, Mayra Borrero, testified as follows. Every four years the names of 50,000 prospective jurors are selected at random by computer from the electoral lists of Puerto Rico. A second random selection of 12,000 names is made from the list of 50,000. Juror questionnaires are then sent to those on the 12,000 name list. After eliminating those deceased or living outside of Puerto Rico, the questionnaires are given to the jury commission which determines those that are qualified to go into the qualified jury wheel for random selection as jurors.

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After this general background explanation, the jury clerk then testified as to how the venire was selected for this case. Because of the great number of jurors that were needed for a case in which the jury selection process had been going on for over two weeks, there were not enough jurors for a venire of 56, the number necessary to service two criminal cases. The jury clerk, therefore, went to the "dead" file which contained the names of jurors selected at random from the jury wheel who had served as jurors more than two years prior because such jurors could be used again. 3 The jury clerk, however, did not send out summonses to those selected from the "dead" file. 4 Because of the time constraints for augmenting the venire, the clerk called those selected from the "dead" list on the telephone. She asked each one if he/she could serve again as a juror and gave them the date for...

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