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United States v. Antico

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

January 12, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
PHILIP ANTICO, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING SERGEANT ANTICO'S MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL AND FOR A NEW TRIAL

          ROBIN L. ROSENBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This Cause is before the Court on Sergeant Antico's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, DE 203 & 218, and Motion for a New Trial, DE 202 & 217. The Government responded to both motions, DE 225, and Sergeant Antico replied, DE 227. The Court hereby denies Sergeant Antico's Motions for Judgment of Acquittal and for a New Trial.

         I. FACTS

         On August 20, 2014, members of the Boynton Beach Police Department attempted to perform a traffic stop of a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle did not stop the car but instead lead the officers on a high-speed chase. After the vehicle was stopped, several Boynton Beach Police Officers used force against the occupants of the vehicle. Some of the incident was caught on video by a Palm Beach Sheriff's Office (“PBSO”) helicopter.

         Following the incident, the Boynton Beach Police Officers each wrote a required officer report describing the incident and submitted their reports to Sergeant Antico, their supervising sergeant on duty. After watching the PBSO video, Sergeant Antico rejected some of these reports and the officers made changes to add information that was not present in their initial reports. Sergeant Antico accepted these officers' changed reports. On February 19, 2015, Sergeant Antico met with the FBI and the Government alleged that he misled the FBI regarding these officers' reports. Specifically, the Government alleged that Antico vouched for the credibility of the officers and did not disclose that he had rejected versions of their reports.

         In a Superseding Indictment, Sergeant Antico was charged with falsification of records (Counts Six and Seven) and obstruction of justice (Count Eight). Following a jury trial, Sergeant Antico was convicted of Count Eight and was acquitted of Counts Six and Seven.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         The standard for a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(c) Motion for Judgment of Acquittal is as follows:

In considering a motion for the entry of a judgment of acquittal, a district court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, and determine whether a reasonable jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution need not rebut all reasonable hypotheses other than guilt. The jury is free to choose between or among the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence presented at trial, and the district court must accept all reasonable inferences and credibility determinations made by the jury. The District Court's determination that the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient to support the jury's verdict of guilt is [an] issue of law entitled to no deference on appeal.

United States v. Miranda, 425 F.3d 953, 959 (11th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted).

         The Court may grant a motion for a new trial “if the interest of justice so requires.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 33. The Eleventh Circuit has stated that:

The decision to grant or deny a new trial motion based on the weight of the evidence is within the sound discretion of the trial court. An appellate court may reverse only if it finds the decision to be a clear abuse of that discretion. While the district court's discretion is quite broad, there are limits to it. The court may not reweigh the evidence and set aside the verdict simply because it feels some other result would be more reasonable. The evidence must preponderate heavily against the verdict, such that it would be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict stand. Motions for new trials based on weight of the evidence are not favored. Courts are to grant them sparingly and with caution, doing so only in those really “exceptional cases.” Applying these principles, courts have granted new trial motions based on weight of the evidence only where the credibility of the government's witnesses had been impeached and the government's case had been marked by uncertainties and discrepancies.

United States v. Martinez, 763 F.2d 1297, 1312-13 (11th Cir. 1985) (citations omitted).

         III. SUFFICIENCY ...


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