United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on several motions (DE 277, 278,
279) filed by defendant Maurice Sydnor.
is Sydnor’s motion (DE 277) to preclude any discussion
at trial about whether arresting officers smelled marijuana
in Sydnor’s residence on the day he was arrested there.
In response, the government states that it does not intend to
elicit such testimony from the arresting officers and will
advise all potential witnesses to refrain from discussing
Sydnor’s alleged marijuana use. Accordingly, the Court
will deny this motion as moot. Should the government, during
trial, find it appropriate to elicit any testimony regarding
Sydnor’s alleged marijuana use, it should first
approach the bench for permission.
is Sydnor’s motion (DE 278) to exclude references to
his alleged alias of “Black” during the
Court’s recitation of the statement of the case to
potential jurors. Sydnor also moves to strike the alias from
the indictment and all other materials submitted to the jury.
He argues that the inclusion of the alias in the indictment
and in the statement of the case prior to trial will suggest
to the jury that they must accept that Sydnor was known as
“Black,” regardless of what evidence the
government should produce on the subject.
Sixth Circuit “strongly disapprove[s of] the practice
of including aliases in indictments.” United States
v. Wilkerson, 456 F.2d 57, 59 (6th Cir. 1972).
“Only when proof of an alias is relevant to identifying
the defendant should a court allow its inclusion in the
indictment and its subsequent introduction at trial.”
including the alias in the indictment serves “the
proper purpose of identifying the Defendant.”
United States v. Emuegbunam, 268 F.3d 377, 395 (6th
Cir. 2001). The government will call witnesses who will
identify Sydnor as the person they knew as
“Black,” who was involved in the drug-trafficking
activities charged in the indictment.
the Court will not refer to the alias in its statement of the
case to potential jurors. In addition, the Court will
instruct the jury that the indictment is not evidence of
guilt, that the defendant is presumed innocent, and that the
government must prove each element of the crimes charged
beyond a reasonable doubt. The government will not be
permitted to argue that “people who uses aliases are
inherently suspect.” Wilkerson, 456 F.2d at
59. Further, Sydnor may certainly produce evidence that he
was not known as “Black” and explain to the jury
that they need not accept that as fact merely because the
alias is included on the indictment. These measures will help
to counter any prejudice caused by including the alias in the
Sydnor moves (DE 279) to preclude the government from
introducing evidence of the firearms found at his residence
on the morning he was arrested there. He argues the evidence
is unduly prejudicial and irrelevant because he is not
charged with any firearms offense.
government argues that the firearms are relevant to the drug
charges. It states that several witnesses will testify that
Sydnor’s co-defendant Timothy Harris instructed them to
deliver the firearms to “Black” and to obtain
methamphetamine or heroin from “Black.”
the existence of the firearms at Sydnor’s residence is
relevant to the crimes charged. It will corroborate the
testimony of the witnesses who state they delivered the guns
to the residence and obtained drugs from the residence. It
will also help prove that Sydnor was known as
alleviate any undue prejudice, at Sydnor’s request, the
Court can instruct the jury that Sydnor has not been charged
with any firearms offenses and that the existence of the
firearms at his residence should be considered by them only
for purposes of determining the credibility of the witnesses
who testified that they delivered the firearms there and for
purposes of determining whether Sydnor was known as
“Black” to these witnesses.
these reasons, the Court hereby ORDERS as follows:
Sydnor’s motion (DE 277) to preclude any discussion at
trial about whether arresting officers smelled marijuana in
Sydnor’s residence on the day he was arrested there is
DENIED as moot, the government having agreed not to produce
any such evidence;
Sydnor’s motion (DE 278) to exclude references to the
alleged alias of “Black” during the Court’s
recitation of the statement of the case and to strike the
alias from the indictment and all other materials ...