United States v. Soto-Zuniga

United States v. Tony Williams
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Case Description: 

It is a welcome change to be writing with a Ninth Circuit win on discovery.It is an unprecedented pleasure to be reporting a Ninth Circuit win on two discovery issues.In Soto-Zuniga, Judge Gould writes for the Court and reverses a denial of a motion to compel stats on a border checkpoint. That "special needs" nonsense has long been a burr under the Ninth's saddle, and Judge Gould quotes heavily Judge Kozinski's earlier worries that the special needs border searches could devolve into generalized narcotics fishing expeditions. Hopefully further discovery on remand will be the thread San Diego pulls to unravel that ratty border-search rug. Less dramatic, but equally important, is the Court's second discovery holding: a reversal when the government reviewed to produce investigative material on some teenagers (information critical to the defense theory at trial). Judge Gould's discussion is very good stuff indeed, and merits heavy citation in our discovery litigation. The Ninth explains why admissibility is irrelevant for Rule 16 disclosure, and to emphasize the "precedence" of defense needs over the government's concerns for sensitive investigation documents. Hard to imagine a RICO, wiretap, or gang case that won't benefit from this discovery discussion in Soto-Zuniga. Congratulations to AFD Paul Allen Barr, Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., for a big brace of discovery wins.