States v. Wiley, 517 F.2d at 1217 n. 24; Martinez, 763 F.2d at 1312. The Court may grant a motion for new trial "only where the credibility of the government's witnesses had been impeached and the government's case had been marked by uncertainties and discrepancies." Martinez, 763 F.2d at 1313. However, the Court "may not reweigh the evidence and set aside the verdict simply because it feels some other result would be more reasonable." Martinez, 763 F.2d at 1312-13.
Edmonds claims that the verdict should be set aside for essentially three reasons: (1) the Court should disregard the testimony of Julius Harrison because he is a "self-described liar;" (2) there is no direct evidence linking Edmonds to the crime; and (3) there is a written statement from Anthony Morse, which was not offered into evidence at the trial, exonerating Edmonds from any responsibility for the crimes charged in this Indictment. See Defendant's Motion at 5-8. For the reasons described below, the Court finds that there is sufficient evidence upon which to convict Edmonds on all three counts, that the evidence does not preponderate heavily against the verdict and that the interests of justice do not demand a new trial.
Although defense counsel challenged the credibility of Julius Harrison's testimony at trial, the Court does not find that Harrison's testimony should be entirely disregarded. Harrison may have lied about his past drug use. Given the terms of his plea agreement, Mr. Harrison also may have some incentive to testify favorably for the government. The Court cannot evaluate these challenges to Harrison's credibility in a vacuum, though. Agent Kahn's testimony corroborated many of Harrison's allegations and, because much of Harrison's testimony was corroborated, the Court will not disregard Harrison's testimony.
Specifically, Agent Kahn's testimony about Edmonds' presence at the scene of the crime, his consultation with Harrison at that time, and the position of Edmonds' car at various points during the transaction supports the conclusion that Edmonds knew that drugs were being sold to the undercover agent, and that Edmonds provided assistance to Harrison by serving as a look-out. Thus, even without Julius Harrison's allegation that Edmonds provided the crack cocaine, there is sufficient corroborated evidence to find Edmonds responsible for the crimes charged.
Edmonds' claim that there is no direct evidence linking him to the crime really misses the point. As explained previously, there is no requirement that the government have direct evidence linking a defendant to the crime. Circumstantial evidence, standing alone, may be sufficient. See Poston, supra, and cases cited therein. In this case, there is the testimony of Julius Harrison as well as the corroboration provided by Agent Kahn. This provides sufficient evidence to convict the defendant. Moreover, the defendant does not identify any discrepancies or internal inconsistencies in the government's evidence. This lack of any inconsistency in the government's case distinguishes this case from the case of United States v. Simms, 508 F. Supp. 1188, 1207-08 (W.D. La. 1980), relied upon by the defendant. In Simms, the Court upended the jury's verdict because "the evidence presented by the government is marked by uncertainties and discrepancies which fail to prove defendant's participation in an illegal conspiracy. . . ." Id. Given the lack of any internal inconsistencies and the existence of corroborating evidence, there is no basis to reject inferences drawn by the jury from the testimony in this case.
Finally, the defendant contends that allowing the jury's verdict to stand would affect a serious miscarriage of justice because there exists a letter written by co-defendant Anthony Morse exonerating Edmonds of responsibility for these crimes.
Although courts may grant a motion for new trial when there is newly-discovered evidence material to the issues in the case, the party seeking a new trial must demonstrate: (1) that the evidence was discovered since the trial; (2) that the party seeking a new trial exercised due diligence to find the evidence; (3) that the evidence would not merely be cumulative or impeaching; (4) that it is material to the issues involved; and (5) that the evidence is of such value that it would probably produce an acquittal. See Mangieri, 694 F.2d at 1285 (citing Thompson v. United States, 188 F.2d 652, 653, 88 U.S. App. D.C. 235 (1951)).
Edmonds cannot meet these rigorous standards. This letter from Mr. Morse was not offered into evidence at Edmonds' second trial despite the fact that Edmonds himself had possession of this letter and submitted it to the Court during his first trial as part of his effort to replace his legal counsel. The letter from Anthony Morse was made part of the official file in this case on March 13, 1991. The letter was available to the defendant's counsel in advance of the second trial and any reasonably diligent attorney would have investigated the official file for such smoking guns. Clearly, this evidence is not "new" and cannot form the basis for a Motion for a new trial.
Apparently, the defense made a tactical decision not to introduce this evidence and not to subpoena Mr. Morse. This tactical decision cannot support a claim for a new trial:
Where the allegedly newly discovered evidence was known to the defense or readily obtainable by it before or during the trial and the defense trial strategy was not to utilize such known or obtainable evidence during the trial, the decision by the defense to change its strategy after an unfavorable verdict does not render the evidence "newly discovered."
United States v. Soblen, 203 F. Supp. 542, 565 (S.D.N.Y. 1961), aff'd, 301 F.2d 236 (2d Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 370 U.S. 944, 82 S. Ct. 1585, 8 L. Ed. 2d 810 (1962). See also United States v. Beasley, 582 F.2d 337 (5th Cir. 1978); United States v. Alberici, 618 F. Supp. 660, 670 (E.D.Pa. 1985); Wright, Criminal 2d § 557, at 317-19. If anything, allowing the defense to introduce and consider this evidence now would be a miscarriage of justice because it would allow defense counsel to make strategy decisions with impunity and would deprive the government of any reasonable opportunity to rebut the evidence or impeach the witness.
Finally, even assuming, arguendo, that the letter from Anthony Morse is newly discovered evidence, the Court finds that this evidence is not of sufficient credibility to warrant a new trial. The official records in this case reveal that, in the midst of the first trial, Edmonds himself gave the Court two letters from Mr. Morse. Both letters were entered into the official record and were date-stamped by the Clerk of the Court on March 13, 1990. One of those letters, notarized on November 30, 1990, was attached to the instant Motion. However, the second letter from Morse, notarized on October 30, 1990 and also absolving Edmonds of responsibility for the charges, was not included with the instant Motion.
In this October 30, 1990 letter, Morse wrote that "I Anthony Morse have already entered my guilty plea in this case." This statement is false on its face. Anthony Morse did not plead guilty until March 11, 1991, the day of trial. Such an "error" raises serious questions about Morse's credibility. Failing to reference both letters in the instant Motion raises doubts as to Edmonds' credibility as well. Because this October 30, 1990 written statement has certain indicia of having been "cooked" in advance, the Court does not believe that Morse's affidavits tend to prove that Edmonds did not knowingly participate in the crimes charged.
Through the testimony of Julius Harrison and Agent Kahn, the government has presented sufficient credible evidence supporting the charges against Rodger Edmonds. The jury weighed the evidence and decided to accept the contentions of the government, after considering Edmonds' claims that he was duped by his friends and was the victim of circumstances. There is no basis to reject the jury's findings of fact, and no reason to believe that applying the inferences made by the jury to the applicable law would result in a miscarriage of justice. Accordingly, the Court shall deny the defendant's Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal and also shall deny the defendant's Motion for New Trial. The Court will issue an Order of even date herewith consistent with this Memorandum Opinion.
ORDER - June 4, 1991, Filed
Upon consideration of the Defendant Rodger Edmonds' Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, or in the Alternative, Motion for New Trial, the Government's Response thereto, the record herein, and the applicable law, it is, by this Court, this 4 of June, 1991,
ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal shall be, and hereby is, DENIED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion for New Trial shall be, and hereby is, DENIED.