US v. Williams-Davis

Decision Date27 April 1993
Docket NumberCrim. No. 91-0559-01,91-0559-06 and 91-0559-20 (GHR).,91-0559-04,91-0559-02
Citation821 F. Supp. 727
PartiesUNITED STATES of America v. Kevin F. WILLIAMS-DAVIS, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia



Russell D. Duncan, Odessa F. Vincent, Ann Rosenfield, Asst. U.S. Attys., Washington, DC, for U.S.

Leonard Birdsong, Carolyn Lerner, Kator, Scott & Heller, Washington, DC, for defendant Kevin Williams-Davis.

Kenneth M. Robinson, Jr., Washington, DC, for defendant Anthony Nugent.

Daniel Ellenbogen, Washington, DC, for defendant Alba D. Restrepo.

Gregory B. English, Alexandria, VA, for defendant Darryl D. Williams.

William J. Garber, Washington, DC, for defendant Joyce W. Boyd.


REVERCOMB, District Judge.

The Court has before it three post-verdict motions on behalf of defendants Kevin F. Williams-Davis, Anthony T. Nugent, Alba D. Restrepo, Darryl D. Williams, and Joyce W. Boyd. These motions are, respectively, 1) a Motion to Dismiss, Or in the Alternative, For New Trial, in which all five defendants join; 2) a Motion for New Trial, And/Or Judgment of Acquittal, N.O.V., filed by defendant Joyce W. Boyd; and 3) a Motion to Dismiss, filed by defendant Darryl D. Williams.1 Each motion pertains to what has come to be known as the first "R Street trial."


This trial grew out of a lengthy investigation of a drug trafficking conspiracy known as the "R Street Organization," which operated chiefly in northeast Washington, D.C., between 1983 and March 26, 1991. On September 25, 1991, a federal grand jury returned a 115-count superseding indictment naming 24 defendants as members of this conspiracy. The indictment charged each defendant with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c) ("RICO"), conspiracy to violate RICO, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), and drug conspiracy, 21 U.S.C. § 846. Four defendantsKevin F. Williams-Davis, Anthony T. Nugent, Darryl Williams, and Jeffrey Williams — were also charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise ("CCE") in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 848 et seq., the so-called "drug kingpin" statute. Each defendant was also named in two asset-forfeiture counts. Finally, each defendant was charged with one or more substantive crimes, which included narcotics distribution, possession with intent to distribute narcotics, murder, armed robbery, money laundering, and various other offenses associated with drug trafficking.

The R Street case represented the first attempt by the United States Attorney to use federal racketeering laws against a neighborhood drug gang in the District of Columbia. The unprecedented use of RICO against so many defendants in a single indictment and the massive amount of evidence accumulated by the government guaranteed that any trial would be a lengthy one. The demands on the justice system in terms of cost and expenditure of time would be heavy.2 To avoid some of the case management problems associated with "megatrials," the Court on December 13, 1991, severed the case into four trials.3 After lengthy hearings on numerous pretrial motions, the first group of five defendants proceeded to trial in February, 1992. The Court conducted voir dire and impaneled a jury on February 18 and 19, 1992.

The first R Street trial proved not only lengthy, but acrimonious as well. Relations between several defense counsel and the lead prosecutor grew increasingly strained as the trial wore on. Counsel for Anthony Nugent in particular resorted almost daily to vitriolic attacks upon the integrity and professionalism of the government investigators and law enforcement officers, including the lead prosecutor in the case, the tone and decibel level of which are not fully reflected in the trial record. The lead prosecutor was occasionally provoked to respond in kind. Personality conflicts among certain members of the jury panel also surfaced at different times during the trial. When the jurors proved unable to resolve these conflicts, the Court, after consulting with all counsel on the record, obtaining their agreement, and interviewing the individual jurors in question, and as a last resort to avoid a mistrial, excused two members of the panel during the course of the trial. Other jurors had to be excused during the trial for medical or other personal reasons.

After a trial lasting over four months, the jury was instructed and began deliberations on July 6, 1992. Unanimous verdicts were returned on July 21, 1992, and July 23, 1992.4 The jury acquitted on the RICO and RICO conspiracy counts and on several specific substantive counts, but otherwise convicted each of the five defendants of drug conspiracy and the other drug trafficking and money laundering counts with which he or she had been charged. In addition, defendants Kevin Williams-Davis, Anthony Nugent and Darryl Williams were convicted of the CCE violation alleged in Count 4 and of second-degree murder for the death of Leon Clea.5 The jurors were individually polled and each assented to the verdicts as read by the foreperson.


Before the jury was discharged, several defense counsel requested permission to speak to the jurors about the trial.6 The Court responded by advising jurors that they were free not to speak to anyone about the trial if they chose but that there would be no prohibition on speaking either. See Tr. July 23, 1992, at 89. Defense counsel subsequently obtained affidavits from jurors Shalita Isaac, Wayne Scott, and Frank Garnett, and from alternate jurors Cheri Dews and Pearl Fleming.7 This joint post-verdict motion followed.

Defendants seek a new trial on grounds of juror misconduct, which they allege was rife throughout the trial. As discussed in the conclusion below, the Court believes, on the basis of juror statements to the press after the trial, that these allegations of misconduct are motivated in no small measure by unease on the part of these jurors over the substantial sentences defendants are likely to receive if their convictions are upheld. Nevertheless, relying chiefly on allegations contained in the five juror affidavits, defendants claim that the following instances of misconduct occurred and irretrievably tainted the verdicts:

1) That the jurors read and discussed two articles in the Washington Post containing information about the R Street Organization not in evidence.
2) That, prior to deliberations, two jurors visited the R Street and Lincoln Road area, the site of many of the illegal acts at issue in this trial.
3) That one juror failed to disclose, in response to a question at the initial voir dire, that he had once lived in the R Street and Lincoln Road neighborhood.
4) That another juror, subsequently elected foreperson, failed to disclose, in response to a question at the initial voir dire, that she had a criminal record, verbally threatened and abused other jurors during deliberations, distorted communications between herself and the Court, and refused to make inquiries requested by other jurors.
5) That this same juror engaged in a predeliberation "campaign" to have nonconforming jurors struck from the jury.
6) That the jury foreperson discussed the trial with her husband and conveyed to other jurors his view that the jury should "nail" the defendants and send them to jail.
7) That the jury foreperson took notes during the trial and consulted a dictionary for a definition of the word "enterprise," allegedly to convince other jurors that an enterprise existed.
8) That the Marshals blocked the requests of some jurors to inform the Court of their complaints about the foreperson and other jurors, and that improper communications otherwise occurred between the Marshals and the jurors.
9) That the jurors regularly discussed the case throughout the trial, contrary to the Court's repeated instructions.
10) That one juror was put in fear about the trial because she perceived that her home was under surveillance.
11) That, during deliberations, a sitting juror discussed with an alternate the foreperson's views of the RICO charges, his own attempts to contact the Court, and the alternate's views of forfeiture.
12) That the Court committed error in dismissing, on medical grounds, a sitting juror against his will after deliberations began and at a time when the jury was alleged deadlocked on defendants' guilt.

The Court will review each of these allegations below. Before doing so, however, it is important to recall the general principles that guide post-verdict inquiries into allegations of jury misconduct.

A. Scope of the Inquiry

Post-verdict inquiries into juror misconduct must balance the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial by an impartial jury with the long-established policy, rooted in the common law, prohibiting the admission of juror testimony to impeach a jury verdict. See Tanner v. United States, 483 U.S. 107, 117-27, 107 S.Ct. 2739, 2746-51, 97 L.Ed.2d 90 (1987). Among the purposes for this strong policy are the promotion of finality of jury verdicts, the discouragement of harassment of jurors, the reduction of incentives for jury tampering, and the encouragement of free and open discussion among jurors. See id. at 119-20, 107 S.Ct. at 2747-48; United States v. Brooks, 677 F.2d 907, 913-24 (D.C.Cir.1982) (per curiam); Government of the Virgin Islands v. Gereau, 523 F.2d 140, 148 (3d Cir.1975), cert. denied, 424 U.S. 917, 96 S.Ct. 1119, 47 L.Ed.2d 323 (1976).

In adopting Fed.R.Evid. 606(b), Congress struck the balance by limiting juror testimony about the validity of a verdict to "whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury's attention or whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror." Fed. R.Evid. 606(b); see also Tanner, 483 U.S. at 121-25, 107 S.Ct. at 2748-50 (reviewing in detail...

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    ...and "a pain in the ___ sic" did not require evidentiary hearing because "there was no outside influence"); United States v. Williams-Davis, 821 F.Supp. 727, 741 (D.D.C.1993) (juror discussions of case prior to deliberations did not require a hearing because such discussions were not extrane......
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