United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
SPARKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
REMEMBERED on this day the Court reviewed the file in the
above-styled cause, and specifically, Defendant Coy
Jones's Motion for Judgement of Acquittal or,
Alternatively, Motion for New Trial [#79], the
Government's Response [#80] in opposition, and
Jones's Reply [#81] in support. Having reviewed the
documents, the relevant law, the record at trial, and the
case file as a whole, the Court now enters the following
opinion and order.
November 2, 2017, after a four-day trial, Mr. Jones was
convicted of all four counts of the Superseding Indictment:
(1) possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of
methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A); (2) conspiracy to possess with
intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), and
841(b)(1)(A); (3) possession of a firearm by a felon in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2);
and (4) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
now files a motion arguing he is entitled to acquittal under
Rule 29 or a new trial under Rule 33 because there is
insufficient evidence to support conviction as to any of the
counts and because the Court ostensibly erred in several of
its evidentiary rulings. See generally FED. R. Crim.
P. 29; FED. R. Crim. P. 33. This pending motion is now ripe
Motion for Judgment of Acquittal Under Rule 29
motion for a judgment of acquittal challenges the sufficiency
of the evidence to convict." United States v.
Medina, 161 F.3d 867, 872 (5th Cir. 1998). In assessing
such a motion, a court must determine "whether a
reasonable jury could conclude that the relevant evidence,
direct or circumstantial, established all of the essential
elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt when viewed
in the light most favorable to the verdict." United
States v. Loe, 262 F.3d 427, 432 (5th Cir. 2001).
"The standard does not require that the evidence exclude
every reasonable hypothesis of innocence or be wholly
inconsistent with every conclusion except that of guilt,
provided a reasonable trier of fact could find that the
evidence establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
Id. "A jury is free to choose among reasonable
constructions of the evidence . . . [and] retains the sole
authority to weigh any conflicting evidence and to evaluate
the credibility of the witnesses." Id.
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Motion for New Trial Under Rule 33
evidence adduced at trial "preponderates sufficiently
heavily against the verdict that a miscarriage of justice may
have occurred, " the court may vacate the jury's
guilty verdict and grant the defendant a new trial.
United States v. Tarango, 396 F.3d 666, 672 (5th
Cir. 2005) (citing United States v. Lincoln, 630
F.2d 1313, 1319 (8th Cir. 1990)). Although a motion for new
trial is reviewed under a more lenient standard than a motion
for judgment of acquittal, a court "may not reweigh the
evidence and set aside the verdict simply because it feels
some other result would be more reasonable." United
States v. Robertson, 110 F.3d 1113, 1117-18 (5th Cir.
1997). To warrant a new trial, "[t]he evidence must
preponderate heavily against the verdict, such that it would
be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict stand."
Id. "[T]his power should be exercised
infrequently by district courts, unless warranted by
exceptional circumstances." Tarango, 396 F.3d
at 672 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also
United States v. Sanchez, 969 F.2d 1409, 1414 (2d Cir.
1992) (noting that to justify the grant a new trial,
"[t]here must be a real concern that an innocent person
may have been convicted").
Court first addresses Jones's challenges to the
sufficiency of the evidence. The Court then turns to
Jones's contention he is entitled to a new trial because
the Court ostensibly erred in its evidentiary rulings.