United States District Court, D. Nevada
M. NAVARRO, CHIEF JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Ricky R. Lovelien's
(“Lovelien's”) Motion for Judgment of
Acquittal Pursuant to Rule 29(c)(2). (ECF No. 1924). The
Government filed a Response. (ECF No. 1976). Lovelien did not
file a reply, and the time to do so has now passed.
pending before the Court is Defendants Steven A. Stewart
(“Stewart”), Eric J. Parker
(“Parker”), and O. Scott Drexler's
(“Drexler's”) Motion for Acquittal Pursuant
to Rule 29(c)(2). (ECF No. 1935). The Government filed a
Response. (ECF No. 1989). Stewart, Parker, and Drexler did
not file a reply, and the time to do so has now passed.
March 2, 2016, a federal grand jury sitting in the District
of Nevada returned a Superseding Indictment charging nineteen
defendants with numerous counts related to a confrontation on
April 12, 2014, with Bureau of Land Management
(“BLM”) Officers in Bunkerville, Nevada. (ECF No.
27). On February 6, 2017, the first trial began with six
defendants, including Lovelien, Stewart, Parker, and Drexler
(collectively, “Defendants”). At the close of the
Government's case-in-chief, Defendants filed Motions for
Acquittal Pursuant to Rule 29(a). (ECF Nos. 1794, 1798). On
April 3, 2017, after hearing argument on Defendants'
motions, the Court denied the motions, finding sufficient
evidence that a reasonable jury could find Defendants guilty
on all charges. (See ECF No. 1804); (Jury Trial Day
23 Tr. 33:15-16, 34:1-40:12, ECF No. 1889). The jury began
deliberations on April 13, 2017. (ECF No. 1858). On April 24,
2017, the jury rendered a partial verdict, finding
co-defendant Gregory Burleson (“Burleson”) guilty
as to Counts 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, and 16, and co-defendant
Todd Engel (“Engel”) guilty as to Counts 12 and
16. (ECF No. 1887). However, the jury deadlocked on all
counts as to Defendants, along with the remaining counts for
Burleson and Engel. (Id.). Subsequently, the Court
made a finding of manifest necessity and declared a mistrial
on all deadlocked counts. (Id.). The Court set a
retrial date of June 26, 2017. (Id.). Defendants timely
filed the instant Motions for Acquittal on all counts. (ECF
Nos. 1924, 1935).
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure (“FRCP” or
“Rule”) 29, if a jury fails to return a verdict,
a defendant may make a motion within 14 days after the court
discharges the jury asking the court to enter a judgment of
acquittal. Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(c)(1)-(2). The Supreme Court
has created a two-part inquiry for determining whether a jury
verdict can withstand a defendant's challenge based on
the sufficiency of the evidence. See Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979). First, the evidence
must be viewed in the light most favorable to the
prosecution. Id.; United States v. Nevils,
598 F.3d 1158, 1164 (9th Cir. 2010). Then, the district court
must determine whether, in that light, the evidence “is
adequate to allow ‘any rational trier of fact [to find]
the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt.'” Nevils, 598 F.3d at 1164 (quoting
Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319).
Motions predominantly reassert the same arguments promulgated
on the Rule 29(a) motions that the Government “failed
to prove the elements of each crime charged in the
[Superseding] Indictment.” (Lovelien Rule 29(a) Mot.
Acquittal 3:24-25, ECF No. 1798); (Lovelien Rule 29(c) Mot.
Acquittal 3:23-24, ECF No. 1924); compare also
(Stewart, Parker, Drexler Rule 29(a) Mot. Acquittal, ECF No.
1794) with (Stewart, Parker, Drexler Rule 29(c) Mot.
Acquittal, ECF No. 1935) (varying only in legal standard,
with both motions providing identical factual and legal
argument that the evidence presented at trial was
insufficient for any reasonable jury to convict Stewart,
Parker, and Drexler). The standard for a judgment of
acquittal is the same regardless of when the motion is made,
be it at the end of the Government's case-in-chief or
after the jury has been discharged. The court is to direct
acquittal “if the evidence is insufficient to sustain a
conviction.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(a). The Court has
already thoroughly examined the evidence provided by the
Government in ruling on the Rule 29(a) motions and found that
a rational trier of fact could find Defendants guilty of the
crimes charged. (Jury Trial Day 23 Tr. 33:15-16, 34:1-40:12).
Defendants do not argue and the Court does not find any
reasonable basis to determine that any evidence provided in
Defendants' case-in-chief rebuts the sufficiency of any
charged count. Accordingly, the Court finds that, viewing
the evidence in the light most favorable to the Government, a
rational jury could find the essential elements of the crimes
charged in the Superseding Indictment. See Jackson,
443 U.S. at 319.
HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' Motions for Acquittal
(ECF No. 1924, 1935) are DENIED.
 Burleson and Engel's outstanding
counts have since been dismissed on the Government's
motion. (See ECF Nos. 1998, 2012). Only the four
Defendants bringing the instant motions are set to proceed
for retrial, which will now begin on July 10, 2017, pursuant