United States v. Muniz-Jaquez

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-10-2013
  • Case #: 12-50056
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Goodwin for the Court; Circuit Judges Kleinfeld and Silverman
  • Full Text Opinion

When a defendant requests production of Border Patrol dispatch Tapes to present a defense of official restraint and to potentially impeach a witness, it is an abuse of discretion by the district court to deny the production of those tapes under Fed. R. Crim. P. 16, given this rule’s broad definition of discoverable materials.

During the preparation for trial that followed Jose Muniz- Jaquez’s arrest by Border Control Agents, counsel for Muniz-Jaquez filed a request for discovery of evidence. This included the Border Patrol dispatch tapes. The tapes were not produced prior to trial. During the trial, the prosecution refused to produce the tapes after they realized that they still existed and the defense preserved their objection to this action for appeal. Muniz-Jaquez was indicted for being in the United States after his deportation and removal. The defense argued that the tapes could be used to show that Muniz-Jaquez was observed from the time of entry until arrest. This observation would create constructive custody over Muniz-Jaquez and therefore, the requirement that the alien be free from official restraint upon their entry would not be satisfied in this case. Additionally, defense argued that the tapes could be used to impeach the testimony of the Border Control agent. The Ninth Circuit held that because Fed. R. Crim. P. 16 gives a broad discretion of what can be discovered to the defendant, that the district court abused its discretion when it did not allow the tapes to be discovered. REVERSED AND REMANDED with instructions.

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