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United States v. Kidd

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

April 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHRISTOPHER RAYNARD KIDD

          ORDER

          DANIEL P. JORDAN III, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Over three years after the verdict, Defendant Christopher Kidd seeks judgment of acquittal or a new trial-his second such request. Def.'s Mot. [356]. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

         I. Background

         On October 21, 2015, the jury found that Kidd conspired to distribute methamphetamine and distributed methamphetamine. Kidd then filed a timely motion for judgment of acquittal or new trial, see Def.'s Mot. [226], which the Court denied because “the evidence of guilt was overwhelming, ” Nov. 30, 2015 Order [256] at 2. A protracted dispute over Kidd's competence followed, ultimately resulting in a finding that he was competent at the time of trial and remains so.

         After his April 12, 2019 sentencing hearing, but before judgment was entered, Kidd filed the instant motion again seeking judgement of acquittal or a new trial. According to Kidd, the Court should grant relief under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, or alternatively Rule 33, because (1) the verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence; (2) the evidence was insufficient to substantiate the verdict; (3) the Court erred in finding Kidd competent to stand trial; (4) trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective; and (5) the Court erred by denying Kidd new trial counsel. See Def.'s Mot. [356] at 1.

         Kidd filed no supporting memorandum and failed to explain these arguments, prompting the Government to file a similarly thin response. Kidd then declined to file a reply within the five days allowed under Local Uniform Criminal Rule 47(D).

         II. Jurisdiction

         On April 24, 2019, Kidd-who is still represented by counsel-filed a pro se notice of appeal [358]. In his notice, Kidd seeks to appeal the “judgment and sentence imposed by this Court on April 12, 2019.” Not. of Appeal [358]. That raises a jurisdictional question.

         “The filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance-it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal.” Griggs v. Provident Consumer Disc. Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982). But in this case, Kidd prematurely filed his notice. Under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(b)(1)(A)(i), the notice must be filed “within 14 days after . . . the entry of . . . the judgment . . . being appealed.” No. such judgment has been entered here because Kidd filed his motion for judgment of acquittal or new trial after sentencing.

         The Court must therefore consider Rule 4(b)(2), which states that “[a] notice of appeal filed after the court announces a decision, sentence, or order-but before the entry of the judgment or order-is treated as filed on the date of and after the entry.” Under this rule, Kidd's premature notice is not yet deemed effective. See United States v. Lucero, 755 Fed.Appx. 384, 386 (5th Cir. 2018) (holding that jurisdiction vested with appellate court when “notice of appeal became effective”). Jurisdiction has not passed to the Fifth Circuit.

         III. Analysis

         Kidd presents a blend of old and new issues in his most recent motion. The Court will first review the previously rejected arguments and then address the new ones.

         A. Old Issues

         Kidd premises his motion on Rules 29 and 33, but he mostly rehashes arguments the Court has already rejected. As noted above, the Court denied Kidd's first motion for judgment of acquittal or new trial based on the weight of the evidence (Grounds One and Two of the present motion). The Court also denied Kidd's post-trial motion challenging his competency and then denied a ...


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