Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Ferguson

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville Division

January 29, 2018



          Clifton L. Corker, United States Magistrate Judge.

         All pretrial motions have been referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(b) for disposition or report and recommendation regarding disposition by the District Court as appropriate. Defendant, Matthew Martland, has filed a Motion for Bill of Particulars [Doc. 85]. The other Defendants moved to join in this motion, [Docs. 93-95, 97, 100], and such motions were granted. [Docs. 96, 101]. The Government filed a response [Doc. 108]; Martland replied [Doc. 121]. This motion is now ripe for resolution.

         I. Background and Parties' Positions

         Defendants are former employees of Wellco Enterprises, Inc., a now defunct manufacturer and supplier of military and rugged footwear that sold such footwear to the Government and the public [Docs. 36, 81]. The Superseding Indictment alleges Defendants conspired to commit and committed wire fraud, defrauded the United States, and smuggled goods into the United States by importing military-style boots that were made in China. It also alleges deceptive marketing and sale of the boots as “Made in the USA” and compliant with the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, 19 U.S.C. § 2501 et seq. and the Berry Amendment, 10 U.S.C. § 2533a. [Id.].

         Pursuant to Rule 7(f) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Martland moves the Court to order the Government to provide a bill of particulars “particularizing the allegations against” Martland. He asks the Government to identify the “specific conduct forming the basis of the charges against him - to include the dates and locations of such conduct” [Doc. 86');">86, p. 12]. He also seeks specificity as to the conduct supporting the charges against the co-Defendants because the Superseding Indictment alleges he conspired with and aided and abetted them.

         In support, Martland first argues the Government is obligated to provide particularization. Next, he argues the Superseding Indictment is not sufficiently particular because it relies upon domestic preference and labeling laws that are enforced on a case by case basis. He contends that such statues are vague, are affected by a range of regulations and case law, and that the Superseding Indictment makes no reference to such regulations. He summarizes that the “allegations of violations of these statutes, coupled with conclusory recitations of the essential elements of the charged offenses are not sufficiently clear and definite to inform” him of the charges.

         Lastly, Martland argues that a bill of particulars is necessary to allow certain pretrial or trial preparation, specifically (1) preparation “for the actual charges the government will attempt to prove” and, (2) filing of motions to “prevent introduction of prejudicial assertions” he believes are irrelevant to the charges or are otherwise inadmissible [Doc. 86');">86, p. 10]. He elaborates that a bill of particulars will allow him to “sift more efficiently through the evidence, ” enable counsel to “more intelligently interview potential witnesses” and prepare jury instructions, and generally avoid waste of judicial resources [Id. at 11].

         The Government objects, arguing that the Superseding Indictment is detailed and that the Government has provided extensive discovery in this case.[1] The Government argues Defendants' motion is a generic and vague request for information. It also asserts that Defendants seek a bill of particulars for improper purposes, i.e. to re-produce the voluminous discovery and improperly compel the Government to identify its primary evidence, case theories and witnesses.

         Martland replies by reiterating many grounds cited in the original motion and supporting brief. He also adds that the Superseding Indictment is insufficient without an allegation of an overt act by Martland.

         II. Applicable Law

         Rule 7(c)(1) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that an “indictment or information must be a plain, concise and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged.” The Supreme Court has held that an indictment is sufficient “if it, first, contains the elements of the offense charged and fairly informs a defendant of the charge against which he must defend, and, second, enables him to plead an acquittal or conviction in bar of future prosecutions for the same offense.” Hamling v. United States, 418 U.S. 87, 117, 94 S.Ct. 2887, 2907, 41 L.Ed.2d 590 (1974); United States v. Landham, 251 F.3d 1072, 1079 (6th Cir. 2001). Hamling also requires that the statutory language “be accompanied with such a statement of the facts and circumstances as will inform the accused of the specific offenses, coming under the general description, with which he is charged.” 418 U.S. at 117-18 (quoting United States v. Hess, 124 U.S. 465, 8 S.Ct. 564, 31 L.Ed. 508 (1888).

         Rule 7(f) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure states:

The Court may direct the government to file a bill of particulars. The defendant may move for a bill of particulars before or within 14 days after arraignment or at a later time if the court permits. The government may amend a bill of particulars subject to such conditions as justice requires.

         The purposes of a bill of particulars are to inform the defendant of the nature of the charge against him with sufficient precision to enable him to prepare for trial, to avoid or minimize the danger of surprise at the time of trial, and to enable him to plead his acquittal or conviction in bar of another prosecution for the same offense when the indictment itself is too vague for such purposes. UnitedStates v. Birmley, 529 F.2d 103, 108 (6th Cir. 1976). A bill is meant to be used a tool to minimize surprise and assist defendant in obtaining the information needed to prepare a defense and to preclude a second prosecution for the same crimes. It is not meant as a ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.