United States District Court, S.D. Georgia
GOCBEY WOOD, JUDGE .
the court is Defendant Michael Lewis Pitt's Motion for
Acquittal and Motion for New Trial, dkt. no. 75.This I.
Defendant's Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for
review. For the reasons provided below, the Motion is
jury trial, Defendant was found guilty on all three counts as
charged in the Superseding Indictment. Count One was for
possession of a firearm by a prohibited person; Count Two was
for possession with intent to distribute a controlled
substance (Cocaine, Cocaine Base, Methamphetamine, and
Marihuana); and Count Three was for possession of a firearm
in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Motion for Judgment of Acquittal
motion for judgment of acquittal under Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 29 "is a direct challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence presented against the
defendant." United States v. Aibejeris, 28 F.3d
97, 98 (11th Cir. 1994); see also United States v.
Ward, 197 F.3d 1076, 1079 (11th Cir. 1999) ("In
considering a motion for the entry of judgment of acquittal
under [Rule 29(c)], a district court should apply the same
standard used in reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to
sustain a conviction."). The Court must "determine
whether, viewing all the evidence in the light most favorable
to the Government and drawing all reasonable inferences and
credibility choices in favor of the jury's verdict, a
reasonable trier of fact could find that the evidence
established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'"
United States v. Grigsby, 111 F.3d 806, 833 (11th
Cir. 1997) (quoting United States v. O'Keefe,
825 F.2d 314, 319 (11th Cir. 1987)).
Motion for New Trial
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(a), "the court may
vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of
justice so requires." Whether to grant a new trial is
left to the sound discretion of the trial court. United
States v. Champion, 813 F.2d 1154, 1170 (11th Cir.
1987). A new trial is only appropriate where the evidence
"preponderate[s] heavily against the verdict, such that
it would be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict
stand." Butcher v. United States, 368 F.3d
1290, 1297 (11th Cir. 2004)(citation omitted). Motions
requesting a new trial are thus viewed with "great
caution"; they are not a vehicle by which a court may
"reweigh the evidence or set aside the verdict simply
because it feels some other result would be more
reasonable." United States v. Hall, 854 F.2d
1269, 1271 (11th Cir. 1988) (quoting Bentley v. United
States, 701 F.2d 897, 898 (11th Cir. 1983)); Butcher
v. United States, 368 F.3d 1290, 1297 (11th Cir. 2004)
argues that the government did not meet its burden of proving
each of the required elements for the three counts charged in
the Superseding Indictment because "the testimony and
exhibits merely provided proof that someone committed the
crimes alleged and did not establish that it was the
defendant to the exclusion of every other reasonable
hypothesis." Dkt. No. 75 at 2. This is the entirety of
Defendant's argument. Defendant's argument fails
because the evidence of his guilt is overwhelming.
evidence showed that Defendant was the driver and sole
occupant of a vehicle that was pulled over by Detectives
Baldwin and Russell for failure to stop at a stop sign.
Detective Baldwin approached Defendant's pulled-over
vehicle from the driver's side. Upon reaching the
driver-side window, Detective Baldwin asked Defendant to turn
off the vehicle and hand him the keys. Detective Baldwin then
made the same request a second time, and Defendant complied.
Detective Baldwin then asked Defendant to exit the vehicle,
but Defendant did not comply. Detective Baldwin had to ask
Defendant multiple times to exit the vehicle before Defendant
exiting the vehicle, Detective Baldwin patted down Defendant.
Detective Baldwin felt a large bulge on Defendant's right
hip. Defendant informed Detective Baldwin that the bulge was
a firearm. Detective Baldwin then removed the firearm from a
holster, of which were both in Defendant's right, front
pant pocket. The firearm had a loaded magazine. The firearm
was manufactured in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Defendant
had prior felony convictions.
Russell then approached Defendant's vehicle and smelled
burnt marijuana emanating from Defendant's vehicle. While
searching the vehicle, Detective Russell recovered blunt
wrappers, two marijuana blunts, and a small yellow ziplock
bag with cocaine that was wrapped in a Wal-Mart receipt.
Further, Detective Russell recovered a Crown Royal pouch or
bag that contained ten bags of various drugs, including
powder cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine pills,
methamphetamine powder, and marijuana. The Crown Royal bag
was located on the driver's side floorboard near the
brake and gas pedals. The street value of these drugs was
approximately $3, 400. The Crown Royal bag also contained a
digital scale, new/unused yellow packets, and a firearm
magazine that was identical to- the magazine loaded in the