United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell, Senior Judge.
2016, a federal grand jury returned a four count indictment,
charging Matthew Graves with knowingly advertising,
receiving, and transporting child pornography. Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16, and consistent with
the holding of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83
(1963), Graves moves for the production of an assortment of
information which he labels as material to his defense. The
Government opposes (at least in part) that motion. For the
following reasons, Graves's Motion to Compel, [R. 36], is
GRANTED IN PART, DENIED IN PART, and DENIED IN PART AS MOOT.
record before the Court is quite limited. Briefly, a federal
grand jury returned a four count indictment against Matthew
Graves in 2016, charging him with knowingly advertising,
receiving, and transporting child pornography. [R. 1 at 1-3
(Indictment).] It appears as if those charges arise from a
series of communications between Graves and William Henry
Steinhaus, IV over a two-day period in December 2014. [R. 43
at 2 (Response).] The two men allegedly conversed and
exchanged pornographic images of children using a smartphone
messenger application known as “Kik.”
[Id. at 3.] The Government obtained logs of those
conversations from Steinhaus's cellphone. [Id.
at 5; see also R. 36-10 at 1 (FBI Report of
Steinhaus pleaded guilty to various charges in a separate
case, United States v. Steinhaus, IV, No.
1:15-CR-00544-CCB (D. Md. Apr. 4, 2017). Graves, however, has
maintained his innocence from the start. With the prospect of
trial approaching, he filed the instant motion to obtain
three categories of information from the Government, along
with certain information from Verizon Wireless, a nonparty to
this criminal action. [See R. 36 at 1-2, ¶¶
1-2, 5-6 (Motion to Compel).] The Court will address each
request in turn.
begin, Graves asks the Government to produce the discovery
file (including any Kik chat logs in its possession),
pleadings, and orders in United States v. Steinhaus,
IV. [R. 36 at 1-2, ¶¶ 1, 5; see also
R. 44 at 1-2 (Reply).] The Government opposes that demand as
falling outside the scope of its obligations under Federal
Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a). [R. 43 at 2.] Ultimately,
the Court finds at least some of the sought-after information
subject to disclosure.
Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a) requires the Government,
upon request, to “permit the defendant to inspect and
to copy” evidence within its possession, custody, or
control so long as the thing sought is, inter alia,
“material to preparing the defense.” Fed. R.
Crim. P. 16(a)(1)(E)(i). In this Circuit,
“material” evidence is that which could be used
to “refute the Government's arguments that the
defendant committed the crime charged.” United
States v. Pirosko, 787 F.3d 358, 367 (6th Cir.) (quoting
United States v. Robinson, 503 F.3d 522, 532 (6th
Cir. 2007)), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct.
518 (2015). The defendant must make a prima facie
showing of materiality to justify disclosure. United
States v. Clingman, 521 F. App'x 386, 392 (6th Cir.
2013) (citing United States v. Phillip, 948 F.2d
241, 250 (6th Cir. 1991)).
Graves has not demonstrated with any degree of particularity
that the Government's entire investigative file in
United States v. Steinhaus, IV is material to his
defense. The same is true for the pleadings and orders in
that action (if those things are even subject to production
under Rule 16(a)). See United States v. George, 786
F.Supp. 11, 15 (D.D.C. 1991) (“Discovery of pleadings
from another case does not fall within the strictures of Rule
16.”). Accordingly, the Government need not produce its
entire investigative file or copies of the pleadings and
orders in the above-referenced action.
logs of conversations between Steinhaus and other Kik users
do seem material. Graves posits that those exchanges, which
apparently involve a number of different individuals, contain
dialogue strikingly similar to the dialogue attributed to
him. [R. 44 at 3.] It is rational to conclude that evidence
of such a sort would aid Graves's defense that he was not
the person who participated in the subject conversations.
Therefore, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure
16(a)(1)(E)(i), the Government must permit Graves to examine
copies of Steinhaus's chat logs in its possession.
See United States v. Holihan, 236 F.Supp.2d 255,
263-64 (W.D.N.Y. 2002) (holding information which, if
credited, would cast doubt on identity of perpetrator to be
material to defense).
Graves asks the Government to produce the iPhone seized from
him as an alleged instrumentality of the charged offenses so
that his expert may conduct an independent forensic
examination of the device's contents. [R. 36 at 1, ¶
2; see also R. 44 at 2-3.] Although the Government
does not object to allowing the defense to view the device,
it does object to releasing the iPhone from its custody. [R.
43 at 2-3.] Its objection is well-taken-albeit with one
previewed above, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)
requires the Government to “permit the defendant to
inspect and to copy” things (including data) within its
possession, custody, or control when, inter alia,
that item “was obtained from or belongs to the
defendant.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a)(1)(E)(iii). The
right of inspection is not, of course, without limits. It is
well established that the Court enjoys considerable
discretion to “deny, restrict, or defer discovery or
inspection” so long as there is “good
cause” to do so. Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(d)(1).
Court understands the Government's reluctance to release
the iPhone from its custody. But Rule 16(a)(1)(E)(iii) gives
Graves the right “to inspect and to copy”-not
simply to view-the iPhone which, after all, belongs to him.
See United States v. Parks, No. 1:08-CR-58, 2009 WL
1617010, at *2 (E.D. Tenn. June 9, 2009). The Court sees no
reason to impose any special restrictions since the device
contains nothing illicit. Cf. 18 U.S.C. §
3509(m). Accordingly, the Government must make the iPhone
available for Graves “to inspect and to copy” in
some nondestructive fashion. S ...