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United States v. Stile

United States District Court, D. Maine

December 1, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAMES STILE

          ORDER ON MOTION FOR RETURN OF PROPERTY

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Applying Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g), with the exception of two pages of documents the Government seized as part of its criminal case against the Defendant, the Court declines to order the Government to obtain and produce documents a county jail seized that were not related to the criminal case. The Court orders the Government to provide the defendant copies of the documents that it did seize pursuant to Rule 41(g).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. James Stile's Motion

         On October 10, 2017, James Stile filed a motion for return of property pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g). Mot. for Return of Property Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(g) (ECF No. 670). Mr. Stile states that on December 22, 2017, a search warrant was executed at the Somerset County Jail in Madison, Maine and that his personal property was seized, including “documentary materials that are relevant to current litigation before this Court in 1:13-CV-00248-JAW.” Id. at 1. Mr. Stile says that there are currently motions for summary judgment pending in this civil action and he needs the seized documents to defend against the dispositive motions. Id. He asserts that “Defendants Somerset County et.[]al., have refused to provide such materials in discovery and continue to do so.” Id. Significantly, he writes that “[s]aid properties are not the subject of an appeal or relevant to any criminal charge or potenti[al] criminal charge as limitations have expired for any criminal charges.” Id. Mr. Stile represents that his criminal defense attorney, Peter Rodway, “has failed to procure said materials from the Defendants nor request release from the United States Attorney's Office of said property.” Id. at 1-2. He requests an order from this Court, “directing the U.S. Attorney's Office to direct Somerset County Jail to release/send said property directly to [him].” Id. at 2.

         B. The Government's Response

         The Government urges the Court to deny Mr. Stile's request. Gov't's Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for Return of Property Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(g) (ECF No. 674) (Gov't's Opp'n). First, the Government says that Mr. Stile's motion contains a typographical error, noting that a search warrant was carried out on Mr. Stile's jail cell at the Somerset County Jail on December 29, 2011, not December 29, 2017. Id. at 1, n.1. Nevertheless, the Government says that the production of the seized documents “were seized by Somerset County Jail officials and never provided to the U.S. Attorney's Office.” Id. at 1.

         Specifically, the Government says:

On December 22, 2011, Somerset County Jail officials seized Mr. Stile's legal papers (including discovery) from his cell. On December 27, 2011, a federal search warrant was issued for the purpose of obtaining two pages of discovery from the seized documents relating to statements of an informant against Mr. Stile. (Case No. 1:11-mj-00232-JAW, Document #1). The search warrant was executed on December 29, 2011.
Other than these two pages (which have previously been provided to Mr. Stile in Discovery), the U.S. Attorney's Office did not receive the other legal documents seized from Mr. Stile's cell. Thus, even if it wished to, the U.S. Attorney's Office has no mechanism to “direct” Somerset County to hand over the seized documents to Mr. Stile.

Id. at 1-2. The Government has agreed to provide Mr. Stile with copies of the two-page report obtained by the U.S. Attorney's Office pursuant to the December 29, 2011 search warrant. Id. at 2.

         C. James Stile's Reply

         Mr. Stile has not filed a reply to the Government's response.

         II. ...


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