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United States v. Hawkins

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

March 27, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Petitioner,
v.
JONAH JAMES HAWKINS, Respondent.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on petitioner's motion to compel (DE 29). The motion has been fully briefed and thus the issues raised are ripe for decision. For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         On September 26, 2018, petitioner filed certification of sexually dangerous person as to respondent, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4248. On October 1, 2018, the court entered case management order governing discovery and motions practice, which set initial discovery deadline of January 14, 2019. Petitioner served first set of written discovery requests on December 14, 2018. Petitioner also conducted deposition of respondent on January 7, 2019. Following the deposition, the court granted petitioner's request for extension of discovery deadline to February 28, 2019. On January 16, 2019, petitioner served supplemental discovery requests, including interrogatories and request for production of documents. As set forth below, respondent objected to each of these requests, and refused to produce any documents or provide answers to the interrogatories. Petitioner believes respondent's objections are improper or waived. Counsel for the parties attempted to resolve the dispute through correspondence exchanged, but those efforts were not successful.

         On February 28, 2019 (the final day of discovery), petitioner filed the instant motion to compel. In support of the motion, petitioner filed memorandum of law, excerpts from respondent's deposition, petitioner's discovery requests and responses thereto, and correspondence between counsel concerning the instant discovery dispute. On March 14, 2019, respondent filed response in opposition. The commitment hearing currently is scheduled for April 24, 2019.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

         During his deposition, respondent disclosed that he maintained certain social media accounts at a time when had absconded from probation, [1] including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts. (Resp't's Dep. Tr. (DE 30-1) a 7-8).[2] Petitioner alleges these social media accounts “likely contain information relevant to Petitioner's case-in-chief, to include photographs and other information pertaining to known or unknown victims.” (Per'r's Mem. (DE 30) at 2). Accordingly, following the deposition, petitioner served written discovery requests seeking identification of the accounts and production of all information posted to such accounts by respondent (or in the alternative, access to the accounts). (Pet'r's Discovery Requests (DE 30-2)). Respondent objected to each of these requests, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. (Resp't's Resps. (DE 30-3)). The requests and respondent's objections are quoted in full below:

         INTERROGATORIES PURSUANT TO RULE 33

1. Identify all social media accounts created, maintained, accessed, or utilized, either directly by you or indirectly through another individual, including any social media accounts created, maintained, accessed, or utilized on your behalf under your name or any other alias.
(a) Please identify the specific social media or social networking website or app where the account was created, along with the username and/or screen name utilized by the account.
(b) Please state the date, or approximate date if the precise date is unknown, when the social media account was created.
(c) Please indicate who created the account.
ANSWER: [Respondent] exercises his right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
2. For all social media accounts identified in Interrogatory #1, please identify whether the account is still active or still in existence.
ANSWER: [Respondent] exercises his right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
3. For all social media accounts identified in Interrogatory #2 as currently being active or still in existence, please indicate whether the account is a publically accessible account (meaning that any member of the public who subscribes to the social media website or application can view or access the account information), or a private account (meaning that the account may only be viewed or accessed by individuals given specific rights or access to the account information).
ANSWER: [Respondent] exercises his right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
4. For all social media accounts identified in Interrogatory #2 as being inactive or closed, please state the date, or approximate date if precise date is unknown, when the social media account was closed or terminated. Please also indicate who specifically requested or caused the account [to] be closed or terminated.
ANSWER: [Respondent] exercises his right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the ...

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