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United States v. Hinojosa

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

October 24, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ALFREDO NAVARRO HINOJOSA (9)

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SAM A. LINDSAY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is Defendant Alfredo Navarro Hinojosa's (“Defendant” or “Hinojosa”) Notice of Related Case and Motion to Transfer Case (the “Motion”) (Doc. 522), filed October 15, 2019. After careful consideration of the Motion, response, and applicable local rule, the court denies Defendant's Motion to Transfer Case (Doc. 522).

         I. Procedural Background

         Defendant seeks to transfer No. 3:19-cr-312, United States v. Hinojosa (the “Hinojosa” case), pending before Judge Karen Scholer, to this court. Defendant asserts that the Hinojosa case is related to No. 3:16-cr-536, United States v. Lara (the “Lara” case), pending before this court. Hinojosa is also a defendant in the Lara case, which has been pending before the court since October 25, 2016. In the Hinojosa case, Defendant is charged with two counts in the Superseding Indictment: (1) Harboring of an Illegal Alien; and (2) Conspiracy to Harbor an Illegal Alien. Trial in the Hinojosa case is scheduled in Judge Scholer's court for December 6, 2019. There is no pending motion to continue on file in that case. In the Lara case, Defendant is charged with four counts in the Superseding Indictment: (1) Managing a Drug Premises; (2) Conspiracy to Manage Drug Premises; (3) Conspiracy to Structure Transactions to Evade Reporting Requirements; and (4) Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Trial in the Lara case is scheduled in this court for March 23, 2020.

         On October 15, 2019, Defendant filed this Notice of Related Case and Motion to Transfer Case (Doc. 522), pursuant to Local Criminal Rule 57.3(b), essentially seeking approval from the court to accept the transfer of the Hinojosa case. The proper protocol in seeking a transfer is for Defendant to file his Motion in the court where the Hinojosa case is pending, but he did not do so. Nonetheless, the court must decide whether it is willing to accept the case prior to a transfer, and, accordingly, despite Defendant's request, the court will address why it denies his request to transfer.

         II. Discussion

         In support of his Motion, Defendant asserts the following: (1) the relevant facts in both cases are “very closely related, ” and, accordingly, this court is most familiar with the facts; and (2) his counsel “has been forced to expend significant time and resources defending against the newer allegations in the Hinojosa case in addition to preparing for the Lara case.” Defendant further contends that this motion is made for purposes of judicial efficiency and not for purposes of delay. He also asserts that “justice requires the Lara case to be decided prior to the Hinojosa case[, ] as it has been pending for much longer than the Hinojosa case.” Defendant provides no case authority or argument supporting this proposition.

         According to Defendant, the Government concedes that the facts of both cases are closely related, as demonstrated by their arguments in the detention hearing for Defendant related to the Hinojosa case. Additionally, Defendant contends that the Government has already provided notice of its intent to offer 404(b) evidence of his harboring charge during the Lara trial. He further contends that the Government filed the Hinojosa case as an attempt to “stymie [his] efforts to contest the charges contained in the Lara case because if he were to be found guilty in the Hinojosa case, then ostensibly he might not continue to contest the charges in the Lara case. Or, at the very least, his defense in the Lara case would be severely hampered.” Def.'s Mot. 8. Again, Defendant merely provides a conclusory statement without any case authority or argument in support.

         In response, the Government contends that Defendant's assertions are without merit. While the Government acknowledges that the “cases are related by a common defendant and certain overlapping conduct, ” it also contends that Judge Scholer can oversee the discrete matter in the Hinojosa case, as it relates to allegations of harboring an illegal alien. Additionally, the Government asserts that Defendant's conclusory allegations that (1) the transfer will conserve judicial resources; and (2) justice requires the Lara case to be decided before the Hinojosa case are without merit. The Government is not opposed to the court hearing the Hinojosa case, but it objects to a transfer to the extent that Defendant's Motion lacks merit and would cause a delay of the trial in the Hinojosa case.

         “The trial court has broad discretion in determining whether a transfer is warranted.” United States v. Osum, 943 F.2d 1394, 1399 (5th Cir. 1991). The court, however, may not deny a defendant's motion for intra-district transfer if the defendant “makes a strong showing that the action would be prejudicial.” Id. (citations omitted). Here, the court concludes that Defendant would not be legally prejudiced by the court's denial of his Motion. Additionally, the court agrees with the Government's position and determines there is no reasonable basis that warrants a transfer of No. 3:19-cr-312.

         While both the Hinojosa and Lara cases involve some of the same underlying facts, Defendant provides no rationale as to why Judge Scholer is unable to address this overlap in the narrow context of addressing a harboring an illegal alien allegation. Additionally, the court can reasonably infer that the overlap in facts is beneficial to Defendant and his attorney's preparation in the Hinojosa case, thus negating any assertion that his counsel has not been able to expend adequate resources to the case. The court further determines that Defendant's assertion that “justice requires the Lara case to be decided prior to the Hinojosa case” is without merit. Moreover, his allegation that the Government somehow has insight into the impact a possible harboring and conspiracy conviction will have on the Lara case is unconvincing. If Defendant is concerned about the timing of the trial setting and the ability of his counsel to adequately prepare for the December 2019 Hinojosa trial, he may seek a continuance of the Hinojosa case in Judge Scholer's court.

         III. Conclusion

         Accordingly, the court concludes that, despite Defendant's assertions, he will not be prejudiced if the Hinojosa case is not transferred to this court. The court further concludes that Defendant has not presented an adequate basis for the court to accept the transfer of the Hinojosa case, and, accordingly, denies Defendant's Motion to Transfer (Doc. 522).

         It ...


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