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When a defendant fails to explain how the information he seeks consists of, or would lead directly to, evidence admissible at trial for either substantive or impeachment purposes, he cannot satisfy the standard of materiality established in the Brady decision and its progeny.
Defendant Kemepaudor Ekiyor is charged in a December 16, 2014 indictment with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), and one count of importation of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952 and 960(b)(1)(B). These charges stem from allegations that as Defendant was traveling from Nigeria to his home in Ottawa, Canada with connections in Amsterdam and at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, federal law enforcement agents at the Detroit airport discovered more than six kilograms of cocaine in a locked suitcase bearing a luggage tag with Defendant's name, with Defendant subsequently found to be in possession of a key that opened this locked suitcase. Through the present motion filed on February 11, 2015, Defendant seeks to compel the Government to disclose information purportedly in the possession of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") and other federal agencies relating to the smuggling of drugs by baggage handlers. In Defendant's view, the Government's disclosure of this information is required under the authority of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215 (1963), Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 92 S. Ct. 763, 31 L. Ed. 2d 104 (1972), and their progeny, where this information either will help to exculpate Defendant or will assist in the impeachment of Government witnesses. The Government filed a response in opposition to this motion on February 25, 2015, observing that Defendant has been given the names and docket numbers of two recent cases in this District in which airport baggage handlers have been charged with drug smuggling activities, and arguing that any further disclosures sought in Defendant's motion would exceed the scope of the Brady materiality standard.
Did Ekiyor satisfy the standard of materiality established in the Brady decision and its progeny?
The court found that Ekiyor did not suggest how the information he sought might be admissible at his forthcoming trial or, at a minimum, might lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The court held that Ekiyor was likely to encounter significant evidentiary obstacles to the admission at trial of any such material. Even if he could satisfy the Fed. R. Evid. 404(b) criteria, exclusion would nonetheless be called for under Fed. R. Evid. 403. Ekiyor could not satisfy the standard of materiality established in the Brady decision and its progeny. His request exceeded any such notion of information known to the federal prosecution team and investigators involved in his case.