MOTION TO VACATE

March 1, 2024

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA SOUTHERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA * *

    • CRIMINAL NO. 14-116-WS

XXXX, * * Defendant *

MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 AND BRADY VIOLATION This motion seeks to vacate sentence of the defendant pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 based on Brady violation and violations of the fifth and sixth amendments of the Constitution. The defense prays for a new trial following discovery of the original emails. COMES NOW, XXXX, the Defendant in the above-captioned matter, by and through his counsel, and hereby moves this Honorable Court to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In support of this motion, the Defendant states as follows:

  1. Defendant XXXX is a male who was convicted in this Court on charges of online solicitation in 2013.
  2. During the trial, the government stated that they only had a printout of the emails and did not have the originals. They accused the Defendant of deleting the emails, which was used as evidence against him.
  3. After the Defendant lost his case and appeals, the original emails suddenly became available at an evidentiary hearing in 2019. This is hidden evidence that the Defendant could have used to better fight his case. The government had the original emails at the jury trial but did not provide them to the defense. The government could have produced all quoted text hidden emails, which they stated at trial were auto-generated, and provided a full email transcript to the jury.
  4. The government argued that the evidence was spoiled at trial and they could only use a printout of the emails and not the metadata. However, this argument contradicts their own position that they had the original emails at the time of the trial.
  5. The government’s failure to disclose the original emails at the trial and appeals is a clear Brady violation. The withheld evidence was both exculpatory and impeaching, and the government’s suppression of it prejudiced the Defendant’s right to a fair trial.
  6. Furthermore, the government refused to give the defense the metadata to analyze, denying the Defendant the opportunity to mount an effective defense.
  7. The government’s actions violate the Defendant’s constitutional rights. Specifically, the government’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence and the denial of the opportunity to mount an effective defense violated the Defendant’s right to due process of law and to a fair trial under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
  8. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized an accused constitutionally guaranteed right of access to evidence. See, California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479 1984) and United States v. Valenzuela-Bernal, 458 U.S. 858, 867 (1982). “Rules concerning [the] preservation of evidence are generally matters of State, not Federal, constitutional law.” Trombetta, 467 U.S. at 491 (O’Conner, J., concurring).
  9. In Brady v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the constitutional importance of providing a person accused of a crime with any and all favorable information that might affect the case. This decision established certain constitutional obligations for prosecutors during the pretrial information-sharing process known as “discovery.” Unlike discovery in civil cases, where the rules require that all parties get equal access to the same information, criminal discovery all too often is guided by prosecutors’ exceedingly narrow reading of the requirement established in Brady that the government disclose all favorable information to the defense. The failure to satisfy Brady obligations presents an obvious risk of conviction of the innocent and puts a significant financial burden on the accused.
  10. During the evidentiary trial, a lot of discrepancies were identified in the printed and original emails contained in exhibit G or threads B and C. There are discrepancies in the time indicated by emails shared between YYYY and XXXX. One instance was where it was identified that in thread C, time was going backwards as in 12:51, 12:54, 12:53, and then 12:55 when normally, it should be in chronological order. (evidentiary hearing p.18)
  11. In this case, the state has evidence that is either exculpatory or impeaching; that evidence was willfully or inadvertently suppressed by the state; and the evidence was material and thus prejudiced the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Basically, if there was a “reasonable probability” that a defendant would not have been convicted but for the prosecution withholding material evidence, then that conviction cannot stand.

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