Judge Admonishes Government for Discovery Violations
GULFPORT – U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr., reprimanded the government Monday morning for several discovery violations that had been brought to the Court’s attention.
Defendants Mikal Watts and David Watts filed a motion alleging the government failed to produce relevant materials until after a witness had already given testimony, been cross-examined and released from a court subpoena.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Rushing agreed the prosecution was slow in giving the documents to the defense, but explained that he thought the defendants had already received them.
“I couldn’t find any documentation showing that they went over to defense counsel, although I was told it was in the discovery. So I went back and checked that and found — that’s why I couldn’t find anything in my files,” said Rushing.
“I have no reason to doubt Mr. Rushing. I think he is an honorable man from all that I’ve seen. But the issue is not the good faith of the prosecutor and whether it’s negligence by the government. The issue is we were deprived of our Constitutional right of confrontation and due process,” said Mike McCrum, who is representing David Watts.
“This is a violation of the Court’s order for discovery, unquestionably,” Judge Guirola said, reprimanding the prosecution for not handing over materials to the defense counsel at an appropriate time.
Rushing admitted it was the government’s duty to give information to the defense in a timely manner.
“No, sir, it is my responsibility,” Rushing told the judge.
The Court ordered the government to cooperate in making the witness available during the defendant’s case-in-chief, so that he may be questioned about the previously-undisclosed statement. Guirola gave admonition to the government, adding, “This is not the first time that the Court has had to stop this case in order to address issues related to discovery abuses.”