US v. Burnside, No. 89 CR 909.

Decision Date04 June 1993
Docket NumberNo. 89 CR 909.
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Thomas BURNSIDE, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois




John A. Smietanka, Acting U.S. Atty., Barry Rand Elden, Asst. U.S. Atty., Chicago, IL, for U.S.

Donald V. Young, Donald V. Young & Assoc., P.C., Chicago, IL, for Thomas Burnside.

Richard S. Kling, Clinical Professor, Chicago Kent School of Law, Chicago, IL, for Codell Griffin.

Brian M. Collins, Chicago, IL, for C.D. Jackson.


HOLDERMAN, District Judge.

This multi-defendant criminal case is among several filed in this federal district during the period 1986 through 19891 in which persons alleged to have been associated with the Chicago street gang known as the "El Rukns" were charged.2 Each of these cases stemmed from a multi-year, multi-jurisdictional criminal investigation of the El Rukn street gang. Among the law enforcement personnel who worked as part of the joint "El Rukn" task force were prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement agents and police officers from local, state and federal governmental entities. These law enforcement personnel utilized numerous investigatory tools, including court-authorized wiretaps on several phones over extended periods of time. Several high-ranking members in the El Rukn gang cooperated with the government and testified for the government at the trials of the "El Rukn" cases.

The three defendants whose post-trial motions are before the court, Thomas Burnside, Codell Griffin and C.D. Jackson, were not alleged to be El Rukn gang members, but were alleged to have supplied illegal drugs to the El Rukns. At the five-week jury trial of these three defendants, four high-ranking El Rukn gang members, Henry Harris, Harry Evans, Earl Hawkins and Ervin Lee, testified for the government pursuant to plea agreements. All three defendants were found guilty. In their post-trial motions, the defendants contend that their convictions should be overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct by government personnel relating to the government's cooperating witnesses in the "El Rukn" cases.

For the reasons stated in this opinion, the motions of defendants Burnside, Griffin and Jackson for a new trial are granted.

                TABLE OF CONTENTS
                PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF THE CASE                                                           1222
                FACTUAL FINDINGS AS TO POST-TRIAL EVIDENCE                                               1224
                I.  The Government's Cooperating "El Rukn" Witnesses                                     1225
                II. The Government's Witnesses' Illegal Drug Use                                         1225
                     A. Positive Drug Test Results                                                       1225
                     B. Eyewitnesses to the Illegal Drug Use                                             1226
                        1. Nicholas Ahrens                                                               1226
                        2. Raymond Bonnema                                                               1227
                        3. "John Doe"                                                                    1227
                        4. Jackie Clay                                                                   1229
                        5. Harry Martin                                                                  1229
                        6. Evaluation of Eyewitnesses' Credibility                                       1230
                     C. Admissions of Illegal Drug Use                                                   1230
                        1. Henry Harris' Admissions of Illegal Drug Use:                                 1230
                           (a) at 1989 Disciplinary Hearing                                              1230
                           (b) to Ervin Lee                                                              1231
                           (c) to Tanya Van Blake                                                        1231
                           (d) to Mustag Malik                                                           1231
                           (e) to Harry Martin                                                           1231
                        2. Harry Evans' Admissions of Illegal Drug Use:                                  1231
                           (a) to Nicholas Ahrens                                                        1231
                           (b) to "John Doe"                                                             1232
                           (c) overheard by Lenell Smith                                                 1232
                           (d) to Harry Martin                                                           1232
                           (e) in Monitored 1992 Phone Conversation                                      1232
                     D. Circumstantial Evidence of Illegal Drug Use                                      1232
                        1. Evans Appeared to be Using Illegal Drugs                                      1232
                        2. Henry Harris' Refusal to Take Drug Test                                       1233
                III. The Government's Awareness of its "El Rukn" Witnesses' Illegal Drug Use             1233
                     A. MCC's Warden Told U.S. Attorney Personnel of Illegal Drug Use                    1234
                     B. MCC's Warden Provided a Memorandum to the U.S. Attorney's Office
                Showing Positive Drug Test Results                                            1234
                     C. AUSA Rosenthal Spoke with AUSA Hogan About the Positive Drug Test
                           Results                                                                       1234
                     D. Witnesses told AUSA Hogan of the Illegal Drug Use                                1236
                     E. Agents told AUSA Hogan of Drug Use "Rumors"                                      1237
                     F. Second Drug Test Memorandum Provided to AUSA Hogan                               1237
                     G. Evans Appeared to be Using Illegal Drugs                                         1237
                     H. Harris Told U.S. Attorney Paralegal of His Refusal to Take Drug Test             1238
                IV. Government's Failure to Disclose or Investigate Evidence of its Witnesses'
                       Illegal Drug Use                                                                  1238
                     A. Positive Drug Test Results                                                       1238
                     B. Reports of Illegal Drug Use                                                      1239
                     C. "Rumors" of the Drug Use                                                         1240
                     D. Henry Harris' Refusal to Take Drug Test                                          1240
                     E. Harry Evans' Appearance                                                          1241
                V. Undisclosed Benefits Given to the "El Rukn" Witnesses                                 1241
                     A. "Contact" Visits and Lax Security for the "El Rukn" Witnesses                    1241
                         1. "Contact" Visits at the U.S. Attorney's Office                               1241
                         2.  Lax Security                                                                  1243
                             (a) The "EL RUKIN GUARD DUTY REPORT"                                          1243
                             (b) "El Rukn" Witnesses Smuggled Contraband Items Undetected                  1244
                         3.  Contact Visits and Lax Security Contributed to Drug Acquisition
                               Possession and Use                                                          1245
                     B.  Telephone Services for the "El Rukn" Witnesses Through the U.S
                           Attorney's Office                                                               1246
                     C.  AUSA Hogan's Intercession with MCC Officials for the "El Rukn"
                           Witnesses                                                                       1246
                     D.  Other Undisclosed "Benefits"                                                      1247
                         1.  Sundry Items Provided to the Witnesses                                        1247
                         2.  U.S. Attorney's Office Paralegal Corinda Luchetta                             1248
                DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION OF THE LAW                                                  1249
                I.   United States Attorney's Responsibility to Justice                                1249
                II.  Supreme Court's Articulation of the Government's Constitutional Obligations           1250
                III. Proof of a Constitutional Violation                                                   1251
                     A.  The Prosecution Suppressed the Evidence                                           1251
                         1.  Government Personnel had Knowledge of the Undisclosed Brady
                               Material                                                                     1251
                             (a) AUSA Hogan had Personal Knowledge of the Undisclosed
                                   Brady Material                                                           1252
                             (b) Other U.S. Attorney Personnel had Knowledge of Undisclosed
                                   Brady Material                                                           1253
                             (c) Other Government Personnel had Knowledge of Undisclosed
                                   Brady Material                                                           1253
                             (d) Brady Evidence was "Readily Available" to the Prosecution
                                   Which Imputes Knowledge for Brady Purposes                               1254
                             (e) Government Required by Brady to Inquire Further into Facts                 1254
                             (f) The Government had an Obligation Under Brady to Disclose
                                   Facts Which Constituted the "Tip of the Iceberg"                         1258
                         2.  No Other Facts Excuse the Government's Non-Disclosure of the
                               Brady-Giglio Material                                                       1259
                             (a) Government Counsel Resisted and Did Not Comply with Defense
                                   Trial Subpoenas                                                         1259
                             (b) The Brady Material was not

To continue reading

Request your trial
28 cases
  • In re Mulamba
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • 28 Abril 2022
    ...prison, that the United States Attorney's Office was responsible for disclosing a witness's prison file); United States v. Burnside , 824 F. Supp. 1215, 1254 (N.D. Ill. 1993) (holding that the prosecutor was responsible for Brady material known by a prison warden in a large-scale prison dru......
  • U.S. v. Maloney
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • 15 Marzo 1996
    ...ordered new trials. See United States v. Boyd, 833 F.Supp. 1277 (N.D.Ill.1993), aff'd, 55 F.3d 239 (7th Cir.1995); United States v. Burnside, 824 F.Supp. 1215 (N.D.Ill.1993); United States v. Andrews, 824 F.Supp. 1273 (N.D.Ill.1993). All of these cases involved the use of testimony of coope......
  • State v. Sanders
    • United States
    • Ohio Supreme Court
    • 18 Julio 2001
    ...Brooks (C.A.D.C.1992), 966 F.2d 1500, 1503-1504; United States v. Santiago (C.A.9, 1995), 46 F.3d 885, 894-895; United States v. Burnside (N.D.Ill.1993), 824 F.Supp. 1215, 1254. He "may not require the trial court to search through [a state agency's] file without first establishing a basis ......
  • Abu-Jamal v. Horn, CIVIL ACTION NO. 99-5089 (E.D. Pa. 12/18/2001)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • 18 Diciembre 2001
    ...Cir. 1991); Reutter v. Solem, 888 F.2d 578 (8th Cir. 1989); United States v. Williams, 927 F.2d 95 (2d Cir. 1991); United States v. Burnside, 824 F. Supp. 1215 (N.D.Ill. 1993); United States v. Moreno-Rodriguez, 744 F. Supp. 1040 (D.Kan. 1990); United States v. Abadie, 879 F.2d 1260 (5th Ci......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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