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Hines , F. Based on the current law that binds this court, I cannot hold that the federal prosecutor is barred from initiating a federal prosecution based on a state agent's promise to the defendant that he would not be prosecuted. The Ninth Circuit clearly requires an agency relationship between the state and federal prosecutors in order for the state agent's promise to bind the federal prosecutor.

Further, Ninth Circuit law discussing the doctrine of "inextricably intertwined" prosecutions focuses exclusively on the denial or circumvention of a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel, a fundamental and constitutionally protected right. The Ninth Circuit has not yet extended the doctrine to include protection from federal prosecution for a "promise" made by a state agent to a defendant that does not involve the denial of a constitutionally protected right.

Here, in exchange for a promise of no prosecution, the defendant provided law enforcement with information about his brother's location. There is no evidence that the defendant incriminated himself with this information, that he was denied counsel, or denied any constitutional right. I am unable to find any authority that would support an analysis of defendant's action under the Martinez "inextricably intertwined" doctrine. See also , United States v. Williams , F. Defendant now argues that the fundamental fairness component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments compels dismissal of the indictment, because defendant fulfilled his obligation under the cooperation agreement and an agency relationship existed between the State and federal authorities.

Alternatively, defendant requests that the court dismiss the indictment under its inherent supervisory powers, even if the court finds no violation of defendant's constitutional rights. Finally, defendant moves for dismissal on several grounds associated with police and prosecutorial misconduct.

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Defendant argues that the State breached its cooperation agreement and violated his rights to due process by requesting federal prosecution on a charge for which he had been promised immunity, and that the State compounded that breach by providing the government with the evidence needed to prosecute defendant. Thus, defendant maintains that because he fulfilled his part of the agreement and cooperated with the State's investigation of his brother, the doctrine of fundamental fairness requires the federal government to scrupulously honor the bargain made with defendant.

See Mabry v. Johnson , U. The government maintains that the principal of fundamental fairness is inapplicable in this case, because the federal government played no part in Cpl. Finnerty's cooperation agreement with defendant. The government emphasizes that Cpl. Finnerty lacked authority to enter into a cooperation agreement on behalf of the federal government, and therefore, his agreement with defendant cannot bind or be imputed to the federal government.

Further, the government contends that defendant fails to establish detrimental reliance so as to support dismissal of the indictment on grounds of fundamental fairness. It goes without saying that the facts of this case and the government's pursuit of defendant as an ACC are somewhat troubling. Finnerty made a promise to defendant and intended to make good on his promise after defendant provided truthful information regarding his brother.

Indeed, Cpl. Finnerty refused to write an incident report to facilitate federal prosecution of defendant until ordered to do so by his commander. Further, Cpl.

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Finnerty made the promise with the belief and understanding that it would by honored by the State, if not federal, prosecuting authorities. Finnerty's promise and did not prosecute defendant on state firearms charges. Yet, defendant faces prosecution under the ACCA. As a result, Cpl. Finnerty's credibility, like that of other police officers, will be in question when assurances or promises are made to criminal suspects in exchange for information critical to the investigation and apprehension of dangerous offenders.


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Particularly in small communities, law enforcement officers likely rely on informal cooperation agreements with informants to acquire such information. If officers and informants can no longer rely on these informal agreements, informants may not be inclined to provide information, thus squelching an important source of investigation. Ultimately, however, it is not the court's role to evaluate or comment on the wisdom of the State's or the federal government's actions. Rather, I must determine whether the government's prosecution of defendant, despite the promise made by Cpl.

Finnerty, violates defendant's rights to due process. I find that it does not. Though appealing is the notion of holding the federal government to the deal made by Cpl. Finnerty, "there's just no way to get from here to there, at least not without uprooting much established law and many commonly-held assumptions about how the government works. Immigration Naturalization Serv.

It is well-settled under the fundamental fairness doctrine that "when the government makes a promise that induces someone to relinquish constitutional or other substantial rights, that promise must be fulfilled. Reno , F. New York , U. The Ninth Circuit has applied the law governing enforceability of plea bargains to "cooperation agreements" and authorized dismissal of an indictment as a remedy for breach of the government's promise not to prosecute, affirmatively finding that this remedy is "not outside the district court's discretion.

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Carrillo , F. Defendant relies primarily on the contract principles cited in Carrillo to argue that fundamental fairness requires enforcement of Cpl. Finnerty's promise. Defendant's argument is based on his contention that the State entered into a valid cooperation agreement with defendant, and that the State breached this agreement by referring defendant for federal prosecution as an ACC. Defendant emphasizes that he fully performed under the agreement, and having obtained his cooperation, the federal government must honor the agreement made by the State.

United States v.

U.S. v. Cameron, Crim. No. AA | Casetext

Transfiguracion , F. In other words, defendant seeks to remedy the State's alleged breach by imputing the violation of his due process rights to the federal government. However, defendant cites no binding authority to support this argument, and in fact, several courts have found to the contrary. I question whether the State breached the agreement with defendant when Cpl.

Finnerty's promise was not authorized by the DA's office. Although Cpl. Finnerty testified that prosecuting authorities always honor his promises to defendants, "this practice does not convert the police into agents having the power to legally bind the prosecutor to such agreements. Reed , P. Here, Hasselman did not authorize or know of Cpl. Finnerty's promise at the time it was made, and Cpl. Finnerty testified that the DA's office had the ultimate authority to grant or withhold immunity. Further, although Hasselman agreed not to bring charges against defendant, he testified that he did so as a "gentlemen's agreement" with Finnerty rather than as a binding promise to defendant.

Generally, "a defendant who seeks specifically to enforce a promise, whether contained in a plea agreement or a freestanding cooperation agreement, must show both that the promisor had actual authority to make the particular promise and that [the defendant] detrimentally relied on it.

Flemmi , F. In such cases, where the defendant has performed in accordance with the agreement, principles of contract law and "fundamental fairness" require enforcement of the agreement against the government. See Transfiguracion , F. Aguilera , F. Thus, to enforce Cpl. Finnerty's promise in this proceeding, defendant first must show that Cpl. Finnerty was authorized to offer defendant immunity on behalf of the federal government.

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No evidence suggests that Cpl. Finnerty possessed such authority, and "[a]s a general rule, doctrines such as estoppel and apparent authority are not available to bind the federal sovereign. To the contrary, "officials having lesser authority over prosecutions than United States Attorneys" may not "bind the United States either to dismiss an indictment or to refrain from prosecution.

McIntosh , F. Lumpkin , F. State agents are without authority to bind federal proceedings, and the converse is no less true. In a case with facts similar to the one at bar, the Seventh Circuit held that unauthorized promises by the State could not bind the federal government in the absence of an agency relationship. Long , F. After the defendant was arrested for alleged narcotics and firearms violations, a state law enforcement officer promised the defendant that he would not be prosecuted for any firearms violation if he provided information regarding narcotics violations.


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  • Despite this agreement, the defendant was charged in federal court with unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun. The district court dismissed the indictment based on "fundamental fairness" and its finding that state "agents who investigate, arrest, and charge a Defendant with a federal violation are in a functional sense, and in the eyes of the accused, agents of the United States.

    In our consideration of this issue we are not indifferent to the fundamentally fair treatment which is the defendant's due; however, unless an agency relationship may be deemed under the facts of the case and the established law to have existed, the federal government cannot be held bound by the bargain alleged to have been made by the state agent, regardless of whether or not such a bargain was in fact made by the state officer.

    The court concluded that the defendant failed to establish an agency relationship, because the federal government had not authorized or known of the cooperation agreement made by the state officer. Likewise, in this case defendant presents no evidence that the any federal agent either authorized Cpl. Finnerty to enter into a cooperation agreement with defendant or had knowledge of the agreement when it was made.

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    Rather, it is undisputed that the U. Attorney's office did not authorize an agreement with defendant, and it is undisputed that no federal agent was involved in defendant's arrest, detention, or questioning on April 1, Therefore, the federal government received no "bargained-for consideration," and Cpl. Finnerty's promise cannot be enforced against the federal government on this ground.

    While "a promise made by a government employee other than the United States Attorney" cannot bind the federal government, however, "[a]n exception has been recognized where, although the United States Attorney was not a party to a cooperation agreement, breach of the agreement rendered a prosecution fundamentally unfair. Rodman , F. Thus, "fundamental fairness" may require enforcement of a promise made by a governmental agent without authority to do so, if the defendant's reliance on the promise subjects him to subsequent prosecution or other related detriment. See State v. Bryant , 42 P.

    Griffin , F. In my previous opinion, I found "no evidence that the defendant incriminated himself with [information he provided about his brother], that he was denied counsel, or denied any constitutional right.