United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
LISA GODBEY WOOD, JUDGE.
Government and Defendants filed several pretrial motions,
notices, objections, and supporting memoranda related to
Defendants' affirmative defenses and the scope of
evidence to be presented at trial. See Dkt. No. 637.
The Magistrate Judge issued an Order ruling on those filings,
ordering that at trial Defendants may not assert the
following defenses: justification, necessity, the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act, the First Amendment, or that nuclear
weapons are illegal under international law or domestic law.
Id. The Magistrate Judge also denied Defendants'
motions to take judicial notice of certain facts related to
these defenses. Id. The Magistrate Judge further
ruled that Defendants' religious and moral beliefs are
not relevant to the intent requirements of the offenses
charged against Defendants in this action. The Magistrate
Judge denied the portion of the Government's motion in
limine seeking to exclude all evidence relating to the
lethality of nuclear weapons, the presence of such weapons at
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, monitoring of alarm systems,
the size and location of security teams, and the policies and
procedures governing the use of force on Kings Bay.
objected to and moved for reconsideration of the Magistrate
Judge's Order. Dkt. Nos. 640, 649, 654, 655, 660, 661,
665, 666, 669, 670. In their Objections, Defendants also
asked, in the alternative, whether certain witnesses would be
permitted to testify and whether any witnesses would be
permitted to testify on certain topics (e.g., religion and
the immorality or illegality of nuclear weapons) if the
Magistrate Judge's Order were affirmed.
Court held a pretrial conference in the matter on October 16,
2019. At that conference, the Court directed the parties to
meet and confer regarding the witnesses and topics Defendants
described in their Objections to the Magistrate Judge's
Order, and to inform the Court if the parties could reach any
agreement about those witnesses and topics. The parties
complied with that directive but were unable to reach any
agreements. Defendants have filed additional briefing on
these issues. Dkt. Nos. 672, 673, 677, 679, 680, 681, 682,
683, 684, 686. The Court also ordered the Government to file
any response to the Defendants' Objections to the
Magistrate Judge's Order, and it has now done so. Dkt.
No. 678. One Defendant filed a reply brief related to these
issues. Dkt. No. 685. Thus, Defendants' Objections to the
Magistrate Judge's Order, as well as their requests for
direction on whether certain witnesses may testify and the
permissible areas of testimony, are now ripe for review.
Defendants' Objections and Motions for
district judge must consider a party's timely objections
to a magistrate judge's order on a pretrial matter.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Here, all
objections were made in a timely manner. The Court has
undertaken a de novo review of all matters to which
objections were made. Based on this review, the Court
CONCURS with the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation and ADOPTS the
Report and Recommendation, dkt. no. 637, with respect to the
parties motions. Specifically, the Court finds as follows:
1. The Government's objection, dkt. no. 613, to
Defendants' Notices of Intent to Raise a defense under
the RFRA, dkt. nos. 532, 546, 560, 551, 570, 581, 592, is
2. The Defendants' Motion in Limine on the application of
the RFRA to the statutory element of the offenses, dkt. no.
540, 541, 556, 566, 572, 588, 584, is
3. The Government's objection, dkt. no. 613, to
Defendants' Notices of Intent to raise a defense under
the First Amendment, dkt. no. 536, 539, 555, 565, 568, 579,
587, is SUSTAINED.
4. The Government's Motion in Limine, dkt. no. 530, is
GRANTED IN PART. That portion of the
Government's motion seeking to exclude evidence related
to affirmative defenses of justification or necessity is
GRANTED. However, the government's
motion under Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence
seeking to exclude all evidence relating to the lethality of
nuclear weapons, their presence on Kings Bay, monitoring of
alarm systems, the size and location of security teams, and
policies and procedures governing the use of force on Kings
Bay is DENIED. Pursuant to the Magistrate
Judge's findings, Defendants shall be permitted to
introduce such evidence if they “demonstrate some
permissible purpose under the Federal Rules of Evidenceand
such evidence is admissible under the Rules, ” dkt. no.
637 at 22-23.
5. The Government's objection, dkt. no. 613, to
Defendants' Notices of Intent to raise the defense of
necessity, dkt. nos. 542, 544, 557, 561, 573, 583, 589, is
“[a]lthough no statute or rule expressly provides for
the filing of a motion for reconsideration in criminal cases,
federal district courts necessarily have substantial
discretion in ruling on motions for reconsideration.”
United States v. Brown, No. CR114-025, 2014 WL
6616997, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 21, 2014) (citing United
States v. Saintvil, No. 1:12-cr-285, 2013 WL 6196523, at
*2 (N.D.Ga. Nov.27, 2013)). “Courts have largely relied
on the standards applicable to motions for reconsideration in
civil cases to adjudicate reconsideration motions in criminal
cases.” United States v. Sabooni, No.
09-20298-CR, 2014 WL 4385446, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 4, 2014)
(citing United States v. Pugh, 426 Fed.Appx. 876,
876 (11th Cir. 2011) (noting that the same standard of review
applies to orders on both criminal and civil motions to
reconsider)). “The appropriate grounds for granting
reconsideration include: (1) an intervening change in
controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; or (3)
the need to correct clear error or manifest injustice.”
Brown, 2014 WL 6616997, at *1 (citing United
States v. Sabooni, No. 09-20298-CR, 2014 WL 4385446, at
*1 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 4, 2014)). In the criminal context,
“motions to reconsider . . . should not simply rehash
previously litigated issues and must be used
sparingly.” Sabooni, 2014 WL 4385446, at *1
(internal citation and punctuation omitted).
filings do not state the precise grounds upon which they seek
reconsideration, but could, at most, be construed to argue
that the Magistrate Judge's Order was based on clear
error or manifest injustice. However, Defendants do not meet
the standard and instead seek to “rehash”
previously litigated issues. Defendants do not point to ...