United States v. Wadlington, No. 99-3478

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtMagnuson; HEANEY
Citation233 F.3d 1067
Docket NumberNo. 99-3478
Decision Date09 May 2000
Parties(8th Cir. 2000) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,APPELLEE, V. EUKA WADLINGTON,APPELLANT. Submitted:

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233 F.3d 1067 (8th Cir. 2000)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,APPELLEE,
V.
EUKA WADLINGTON,APPELLANT.
No. 99-3478
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT
Submitted: May 9, 2000
Filed: December 1, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

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Before Richard S. Arnold and Heaney, Circuit Judges, and Magnuson,1 District Judge.

Magnuson, District Judge

Euka Wadlington was convicted of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and cocaine base and attempted distribution of cocaine. He was thereafter sentenced to life imprisonment. He now appeals, attacking both his conviction and sentence. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 3, 1998, a federal grand jury empaneled in the Southern District of Iowa returned an indictment against Appellant Euka Wadlington ("Wadlington"), charging him with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and cocaine base and actual distribution of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 846 and 841(a)(1). Thereafter, the Grand Jury handed down two superseding indictments. The first included an additional charge against Wadlington for attempted distribution of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 846, 2 and added Samuel L. Miller ("Miller"), Terrance Hood ("Hood"), and Lee Paige Driver ("Driver") to the conspiracy count. The second superseding indictment added Terrance McLoyd ("McLoyd") to the list of conspirators as well as another count against Driver. Although no new charges were brought against Wadlington, he was indirectly affected by the proceedings. Two of his former girlfriends, Juanita Ellis ("Ellis") and Luwanda Kelly ("Kelly"), both of whom were considered by him to be key defense witnesses, fully implicated him and others in the conspiracy when testifying before the Grand Jury.

Prior to being summoned to Iowa for the grand jury proceedings, both Ellis and Kelly were interviewed in their home states by government agents. Each denied having any direct knowledge of Wadlington's involvement with drugs, although both admitted knowing that he was a drug dealer. Certain that Ellis and Kelly could provide more specific information about the conspiracy's participants and activities, the prosecutor issued subpoenas summoning them to Davenport, Iowa, to testify before the Grand Jury on April 8, 1999. The prosecutor arranged for them to arrive in Iowa the morning of April 7, 1999. Upon their arrival, both witnesses met with attorneys provided by the Government. They were then questioned by the prosecutor and government agents with their counsel present.

After one or two hours of questioning, Kelly admitted having detailed information about Wadlington's drug operation, including the activities of his associates. She disclosed the information to the Grand Jury the following day. Kelly denies being threatened or coerced into making the incriminating statements and maintains that her testimony was truthful. Ellis was less inclined to provide incriminating information about Wadlington and his associates. Throughout interviews on April 7th, she continued to deny having any actual

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knowledge of Wadlington's drug dealing, even after failing a lie detector test. However, after speaking privately with her attorney the following afternoon, Ellis decided to fully divulge her knowledge of Wadlington's drug operation. Her attorney, Patrick Kelly, denies that the Government coerced her testimony.

On April 20, 1999, and again on April 26, 1999, Wadlington moved to dismiss the second superseding indictment, alleging prosecutorial misuse of the grand jury process. Wadlington also filed a motion to continue the trial to prepare his defense in light of Ellis' and Kelly's damaging testimonies. Finding no abuse of the grand jury process or misconduct by the Government in its investigation, the District Court 3 denied both motions.

The case proceeded to trial on April 26, 1999. 4 Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence shows that from 1992 to approximately 1998, Wadlington was the leader in a drug organization that supplied cocaine and cocaine base to persons in Clinton, Iowa. Wadlington employed and supervised numerous persons who concealed, transported, prepared, and distributed the drugs. At least two of these individuals were juveniles. Government witnesses testified that the drug operation involved concealing cocaine in Tide detergent boxes and transporting the boxes from Chicago to several residences in Clinton where the drugs were cooked and distributed for re-sale in the Clinton area.

Wadlington was never caught with any drugs, either on his person or in his vehicle, home, or business. The Government relied entirely on the testimony of Wadlington's co-conspirators as well as others involved in the Clinton drug scene to establish his guilt. In defense, Wadlington sought to convince the jury that the Government's case was a fraud. To this end, he attempted to undermine the credibility of government witnesses by highlighting prior inconsistent statements and revealing their self-interest in providing incriminating evidence about him. The jury was apparently not entirely swayed by Wadlington's defense. On May 10, 1999, the jury returned a verdict convicting Wadlington on the conspiracy and attempted distribution counts and acquitting him on the actual distribution count. On August 5, 1999, the District Court sentenced Wadlington to concurrent life sentences and 10 years supervised release. Wadlington now appeals his conviction and sentence.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Prosecutorial Misconduct.

On appeal, Wadlington alleges numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct occurring at various times during the proceedings. For the reasons stated below, we conclude that the cited instances do not, either individually or collectively, necessitate a new trial.

1. Grand Jury Proceedings.

Wadlington advances three separate, but intertwined instances of alleged prosecutorial misconduct during grand jury proceedings, each of which he believes mandates reversal of his conviction. At the outset we note that "[g]rand jury proceedings are afforded a strong presumption of regularity, and a defendant seeking to overcome that presumption faces a heavy burden." United States v. Kouba, 822 F.2d 768, 774 (8 th Cir. 1987). Where the defendant has alleged prosecutorial misconduct, dismissal of an indictment is proper only when the defendant demonstrates flagrant misconduct and substantial prejudice. See United States v. Manthei,

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979 F.2d 124, 126-27 (8 th Cir. 1992). "[A]bsent demonstrable prejudice, or substantial threat thereof, dismissal of the indictment is plainly inappropriate, even though the violation may have been deliberate." United States v. Morrison, 449 U.S. 361, 365 (1981). We will disturb a district court's denial of a motion to dismiss an indictment only upon a finding of abuse of discretion. See Manthei, 979 F.2d at 126-27.

Wadlington first contends that Ellis and Kelly were improperly called to testify before the Grand Jury for the sole purpose of strengthening the Government's case against him. The District Court found that this was not the case. While the timing of this particular grand jury proceeding-20 days before Wadlington's trial-is somewhat suspect, our review of the record reveals no abuse of discretion in the District Court's determination.

It is well-settled that it is improper to summon a witness before the grand jury "for the sole or dominant purpose of preparing a pending indictment for trial." Puckett, 147 F.3d at 770 (quoting United States v. Gibbons, 607 F.2d 1320, 1328 (10 th Cir. 1979)). However, "where the purpose of the grand jury proceeding is directed to other offenses, its scope cannot be narrowly circumscribed and any collateral fruits from bona fide inquiries may be utilized by the government." United States v. Sellaro, 514 F.2d 114, 122 (8 th Cir. 1973).

The Government maintains that although Ellis and Kelly provided incriminating information about Wadlington to the Grand Jury, they were subpoenaed for the primary purpose of providing information about his associates, in particular McLoyd. The record supports this assertion. Most notably, the grand jury investigation actually yielded an indictment against McLoyd without directly affecting the charges against Wadlington. Additionally, it does not appear that the Government needed the information Ellis and Kelly were able to provide about Wadlington as it had at least nine other witnesses with substantially the same information already scheduled to testify against him at trial.

Nevertheless, Wadlington believes the prosecutor's improper purpose is evinced by the fact that many of the questions posed related to his role in the conspiracy. After reviewing the grand jury transcripts, we must disagree. The proceedings were focused on developing further evidence about the conspiracy, in particular its participants. Because Wadlington was the leader of the conspiracy, it is not surprising that incriminating information was elicited about him in the process. Additionally, it was appropriate for the prosecutor to ask questions about Wadlington before delving into the witnesses' knowledge about his associates because their knowledge stemmed in large part from their involvement with him.

Wadlington also believes that the prosecutor's improper purpose is apparent because neither Ellis nor Kelly were asked about McLoyd during initial police interviews. Thus, Wadlington argues, the prosecutor could not have expected to elicit information about him during grand jury proceedings. On the contrary, we find that given the closeness of their respective relationships with Wadlington during the time in which the conspiracy...

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63 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Schneider, No. CR00-4029MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • August 29, 2001
    ...the strength of the properly admitted evidence; and (3) the curative actions taken by the district court. United States v. Wadlington, 233 F.3d 1067, 1077 (8th Cir. 2000); United States v. Beckman, 222 F.3d 512, 526 (8th Cir.2000) (same); United States v. Beeks, 224 F.3d 741, 745 (8th Cir.2......
  • Wadlington v. Werlich, Case No. 17-cv-449-SMY
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Southern District of Illinois
    • April 7, 2020
    ...(the "attempt" count), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1).2 United States v. Wadlington, Case No. 98-CR-242 (S.D. Iowa); 233 F.3d 1067, 1072 (8th Cir. 2000). Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851, the Government notified Wadlington that his two Illinois state court convictions would incre......
  • Garnett v. Com., Record No. 3027-04-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • April 10, 2007
    ...would have provided Garnett with "such compelling cross-examination as to render an acquittal more likely." United States v. Wadlington, 233 F.3d 1067, 1076-77 (8th Cir.2000) (where defendant "was already aware of the substance of the government witnesses' exculpatory and impeaching stateme......
  • State v. Bisner, No. 20000026.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • November 20, 2001
    ...and Justice WILKINS concur in Associate Chief Justice RUSSON's opinion. -------- Notes: 1. See, e.g., United States v. Wadlington, 233 F.3d 1067, 1076 (8th Cir.2000) (refusing to find a Brady violation where the defendant "was already aware of the substance of the [undisclosed] statements p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
63 cases
  • U.S. v. Schneider, No. CR00-4029MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • August 29, 2001
    ...the strength of the properly admitted evidence; and (3) the curative actions taken by the district court. United States v. Wadlington, 233 F.3d 1067, 1077 (8th Cir. 2000); United States v. Beckman, 222 F.3d 512, 526 (8th Cir.2000) (same); United States v. Beeks, 224 F.3d 741, 745 (8th Cir.2......
  • Wadlington v. Werlich, Case No. 17-cv-449-SMY
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Southern District of Illinois
    • April 7, 2020
    ...(the "attempt" count), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1).2 United States v. Wadlington, Case No. 98-CR-242 (S.D. Iowa); 233 F.3d 1067, 1072 (8th Cir. 2000). Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851, the Government notified Wadlington that his two Illinois state court convictions would incre......
  • Garnett v. Com., Record No. 3027-04-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • April 10, 2007
    ...would have provided Garnett with "such compelling cross-examination as to render an acquittal more likely." United States v. Wadlington, 233 F.3d 1067, 1076-77 (8th Cir.2000) (where defendant "was already aware of the substance of the government witnesses' exculpatory and impeaching stateme......
  • State v. Bisner, No. 20000026.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • November 20, 2001
    ...and Justice WILKINS concur in Associate Chief Justice RUSSON's opinion. -------- Notes: 1. See, e.g., United States v. Wadlington, 233 F.3d 1067, 1076 (8th Cir.2000) (refusing to find a Brady violation where the defendant "was already aware of the substance of the [undisclosed] statements p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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