U.S. v. Garcia

Citation143 F.Supp.2d 791
Decision Date23 August 2000
Docket NumberNo. 97-80727.,97-80727.
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiffs, v. Efraim GARCIA, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan

William J. Sauget, David J. Debold, United States Attorney's Office, Detroit, MI, for Plaintiff.

Federal Defender's Office, Detroit, MI, Jeffrey Urdangen, Chicago, IL, Harold Z. Gurewitz, Margaret S. Raben, Gurewitz & Raben, Robert F. Kinney, III, Detroit, MI, for Defendant.


EDMUNDS, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for rehearing of this Court's September 22, 1999 opinion and order granting in part and denying in part Defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment on federal jurisdictional grounds. Relying primarily on two recent United States Supreme Court decisions which address the limits of federal power, Defendant moves for rehearing of this Court's decision to deny in part his previous motion to dismiss with respect to Counts I and II which allege violations of RICO, 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et. seq. For the reasons stated below, the Court agrees that the recent Supreme Court authority relied upon by Defendant compels the conclusion that this Court lacks jurisdiction to decide the RICO charges brought by the Government in this case. Accordingly, Defendant's motion for rehearing is GRANTED and the remaining counts of the indictment are DISMISSED.

I. Introduction

The United States Constitution established a system of dual sovereignty. Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 918, 117 S.Ct. 2365, 138 L.Ed.2d 914 (1997); Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 457, 111 S.Ct. 2395, 115 L.Ed.2d 410 (1991). Reflected throughout the Constitution is the principle that, "[a]lthough the States surrendered many of their powers to the new Federal Government, they retained a `residuary and inviolable sovereignty[.]'" Printz, 521 U.S. at 918-19, 117 S.Ct. 2365 (quoting The Federalist No. 39, at 245 (James Madison)). One hundred and thirty years ago, the Court explained the necessity of the dual system:

"[T]he people of each State compose a State, having its own government, and endowed with all functions essential to separate and independent existence ... [W]ithout the States in union, there could be no such political body as the United States." Not only, therefore, can there be no loss of separate and independent autonomy to the States, through their union under the Constitution, but it may be not unreasonably said that the preservation of the States, and the maintenance of their governments, are as much within the design and care of the Constitution as the preservation of the Union and the maintenance of the National government. The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.

Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700, 7 Wall. 700, 725, 19 L.Ed. 227 (1868)(overruled on other grounds by Morgan v. United States, 113 U.S. 476, 20 Ct.Cl. 533, 5 S.Ct. 588, 28 L.Ed. 1044 (1885)(footnote omitted))(quoting Lane County v. Oregon, 74 U.S. 71, 7 Wall. 71, 76, 19 L.Ed. 101 (1868)).

It is well-established that the Constitution created a federal government of limited powers. This principle is embodied in the Tenth Amendment, which provides that, "[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." U.S. CONST. amend. X. As the Supreme Court has recently reminded us, "[t]he States thus retain substantial sovereign authority under our constitutional system." Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 457, 111 S.Ct. 2395, 115 L.Ed.2d 410 (1991). James Madison observed, in The Federalist No. 45 that, "[t]he powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State." Id.

The principles and advantages underlying the dual sovereignty doctrine are numerous. The Gregory Court described them as being four-fold. The doctrine "assures a decentralized government that will be more sensitive to the diverse needs of a heterogenous society; it increases opportunity for citizen involvement in democratic processes; it allows for more innovation and experimentation in government; and it makes government more responsive by putting the States in competition for a mobile citizenry." Gregory, 501 U.S. at 458, 111 S.Ct. 2395.

In addition to these important concerns, one of the most important aspects of our dual system is that it provides a check on the abuses of governmental power. Indeed, "[t]he `constitutionally mandated balance of power' between the States and the Federal Government was adopted by the Framers to ensure the protection of `our fundamental liberties.'" Id. (quoting Atascadero State Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 242, 105 S.Ct. 3142, 87 L.Ed.2d 171 (1985)).

The power of Congress to enact legislation and to impose its statutory preferences on the states is not unlimited. Especially in the criminal context, "`[s]tates possess primary authority for defining and enforcing the criminal law.'" United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 561, n. 3, 115 S.Ct. 1624, 131 L.Ed.2d 626 (1995)(quoting Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 635, 113 S.Ct. 1710, 123 L.Ed.2d 353 (1993)). "When Congress criminalizes conduct already denounced as criminal by the States, it effects a `change in the sensitive relation between federal and state criminal jurisdiction.'" Lopez, 514 U.S. at 561, n. 3, 115 S.Ct. 1624 (quoting United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396, 411-12, 93 S.Ct. 1007, 35 L.Ed.2d 379 (1973)).

In a number of recent rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed many of these principles of dual sovereignty.1 One common theme that can be gleaned from these recent decisions is that the States retain "a residuary and inviolable sovereignty," Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 119 S.Ct. 2240, 2247, 144 L.Ed.2d 636 (1999) and that far-reaching though Congress' power may be, its use of that power must not "contradict vital principles necessary to maintain separation of powers and the federal balance." City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507, 536, 117 S.Ct. 2157, 138 L.Ed.2d 624 (1997). "Although the Constitution grants broad powers to Congress, our federalism requires that Congress treat the States in a manner consistent with their status as residuary sovereigns and joint participants in the governance of the Nation." Alden, 119 S.Ct. at 2263.

It is the holding of this Court that the assertion of federal jurisdiction over the criminal conduct indicted in this case violates these principles of federalism, and arrogates to the federal government a police power that is constitutionally reserved to the States.

II. Background
A. Facts

As this Court explained in its previous opinion and order, the Third Superceding Indictment (hereinafter "indictment") charges the defendant, Efraim Garcia, with alleged membership in a street gang known as the "Cash Flow Posse." This gang allegedly emerged in 1988-89 to counteract high pressure recruiting tactics of two national street gangs, the Latin Counts and the Cobras, who attempted to recruit new members in southwest Detroit. In lieu of joining the existing gangs, twelve young men created their own group which became known as the "Cash Flow Posse."

The indictment charges the alleged members of the gang with numerous acts of murder and assault. Defendant Garcia is alleged to have murdered Douglas Williams, LaVonda Brown, James Goings, Annie Johnson, and Evan Ison. He also allegedly conspired to murder and assaulted with the intent to murder, Shirley Johnson. Finally, he is alleged to have committed several other assaults with intent to murder and to have conspired with other members of the Cash Flow Posse to murder rival gang members.

B. The Cash Flow Posse's Connection to Commerce

Count I alleges a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c); § 1961(1); § 1961(5). The indictment alleges that the Cash Flow Posse, of which Garcia was allegedly a member, is an "enterprise" as that term is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1961(4), and that the enterprise engaged in and its activities affected interstate commerce, in five ways:

(1) Gang members traveled on an interstate highway (I-94) from Detroit to Port Huron (which are both Michigan cities) to commit murders;

(2) One gun used by gang members was manufactured in another state;

(3) Guns used by the gang were purchased at the Gibraltar Trade Center, which frequently does business with citizens from other states;

(4) A cellmate of one gang member told a law enforcement officer that the member had alluded to the possibility of Cash Flow Posse chapters or sects existing in other states; and

(5) One gang member, in his plea colloquy, acknowledged that other gang members conducted a meeting while they were in Mexico for the purpose of discussing the gang's strategy with regard to the law enforcement initiatives against them. (See Supplemental Submission of the Gov't, Ex. 7 at 25).

The indictment also alleges that the enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity consisting of twelve acts, including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and assault. The predicate acts do not include crimes which are economic in character such as extortion, hijacking, drug trafficking, or armed robbery.

Count II alleges that Defendant Garcia violated the RICO conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), by conspiring with others to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), which forms the basis for Count I. The pattern of racketeering activity consists of the various acts delineated in Count I, and no additional ties to interstate commerce are alleged.

C. ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 cases
  • U.S. v. Nascimento
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • July 2, 2007
    ...are not economically motivated. Although one district court has read Scheidler in this restrictive manner, see United States v. Garcia, 143 F.Supp.2d 791, 815 (E.D.Mich.2000), we are not persuaded. The fact that the Scheidler Court discussed only detrimental effects is something of a makewe......
  • United States v. D-13 Roderek Perry
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • April 7, 2017
    ...which also dismissed substantive RICO charges. Citing United States v. Waucaush, 380 F.3d 251 (6th Cir. 2004); United States v. Garcia, 143 F.Supp.2d 791 (E.D. Mich. 2000). The Court believes that Defendant's reliance on Garcia is misplaced. That decision was dictated by unusual facts refle......
  • U.S. v. Dupree
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • March 17, 2003
    ...order' when the victim is a private citizen, rather than a business entity engaged in interstate commerce." United States v. Garcia, 143 F.Supp.2d 791, 810 (E.D.Mich. 2000) (quoting Wang, 222 F.3d at 238). The instant case does not fall within this exception. Although the money in the robbe......
  • United States v. Garcia
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • July 14, 2015
    ...and two district-court decisions from that circuit: Waucaush v. United States, 380 F.3d 251 (6th Cir.2004) ; United States v. Garcia, 143 F.Supp.2d 791 (E.D.Mich.2000) ; and United States v. Garcia, 68 F.Supp.2d 802 (E.D.Mich.1999). Because the three decisions follow the same analysis, we n......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT