United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Jeffrey S. Paulsen, Assistant United States Attorney, United
States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of
Maurice Welch, pro se.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for a ruling on Defendant Chris Maurice Welch's
("Welch") Motions for New Trial [Docket Nos. 141,
142].Welch claims he has newly discovered
evidence showing Minneapolis Police Officer Jeffrey B. Werner
("Officer Werner") provided false information in a
search warrant application and in court testimony when he
stated that he obtained Welch's driver's license
photo for use in an investigation. For the reasons set forth
below, the Motion is denied.
March 27, 2017, Officer Werner applied to a Hennepin County
judge for a search warrant for a North Minneapolis home. In
the search warrant application, Officer Werner stated that a
reliable Confidential Informant ("CI") told him he
had personally witnessed Welch storing guns and selling drugs
in the home. Def's Mot. [Docket No. 142] Ex. A at 2.
Officer Werner also stated that he corroborated the
information by searching Welch's name in the Department
of Motor Vehicles ("DMV") website, printing
Welch's picture from the website, and showing it to the
CI to confirm Welch's identity. Id. Officer
Werner further stated that during his surveillance of the
identified North Minneapolis residence, he observed a pattern
of foot and vehicle traffic consistent with drugs being sold
from the home. Id. Officer Werner then stated that
this information led him to believe that illegal narcotics
were being stored and distributed from the home. Id.
search warrant application was judicially approved the
morning of March 27, 2017. Id. at 4. Also that
morning, law enforcement followed Welch from his probation
officer's office in St. Paul to the North Minneapolis
address. Mot. Hr'g Tr. [Docket No. 32] at 10, 26.
Officers executed the search warrant and found four guns and
a large amount of synthetic marijuana in the kitchen.
Id. at 14-15. Welch was found and arrested in a
bedroom with two other men present. Id. at 11-12. In
the bedroom with the three men were three cell phones, all
which had been broken in half. Id. at 12. DNA on one
of the recovered guns was later revealed to be consistent
with Welch's DNA. Trial Tr. Vol. II [Docket No. 107] at
initially moved to suppress the fruits of the search warrant.
See Def's Mot. Suppress [Docket No. 22]
(challenging search warrant); Def's Mot. Franks
Hearing [Docket No. 24] (same). However, Welch later withdrew
his challenge to the search warrant because he was not a
resident or overnight guest of the home and thus lacked a
reasonable expectation of privacy in the residence. See
Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83, 90 (1998) ("[A]n
overnight guest in a home may claim the protection of the
Fourth Amendment, but one who is merely present with the
consent of the householder may not."); Mot. Hr'g Tr.
at 3-4 (withdrawing challenges to search warrant); Trial Tr.
Vol. II at 257 (defense counsel stating, "If he were an
overnight guest, I would have challenged the warrant. . .
."). Welch's defense at trial was that he was a
casual visitor to the home and had no connection to the guns
or drugs found there. Trial Tr. Vol. I [Docket No. 106] at
March 6, 2018, after a two day trial, a jury found Welch
guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Verdict
[Docket No. 78]. Welch was sentenced to 204 months
imprisonment. Sentencing J. [Docket No. 127] at 2. Welch
appealed his conviction and sentence on November 21, 2018.
Notice Appeal [Docket No. 132]. His appeal remains pending.
February 5, 2019, Welch filed this Motion for a new trial. He
contends that in December 2018 he asked the DMV to provide
him with a report identifying the dates his name was searched
in the DMV database. The DMV provided a report showing
Welch's name had not been accessed during March 2017.
Welch then requested a similar report from the Bureau of
Criminal Apprehension ("BCA"). The BCA provided a
January 2019 report showing Welch's drivers license
information was not searched between 2:20 p.m. on March 15,
2017 and 11:40 p.m. on March 26, 2017.
argues the reports show Officer Werner lied when he stated
that he used Welch's photo from the DMV website to
confirm Welch's identity with the CI and to conduct
surveillance on the North Minneapolis home, because Officer
Werner testified at trial that he conducted surveillance on
the home on March 24, 2017, yet Welch's photo was not
retrieved until late on the night of March 26. Welch contends
the record shows "Officer Werner [n]ever used the DMV or
BCA websites." Def's Mot. [Docket No. 142] at 12.
Welch also argues the evidence raises a question of whether
Officer Werner "acted in bad faith by exclusively
pursuing [Welch] as a suspect, since Officer Werner
recklessly and intentionally manipulated exculpatory
documents to obtain a warrant." Id. Welch
contends that the allegedly false statements were a "key
component" to the issuance of the search warrant and the
justification for his arrest, and that Officer Werner's
conduct violated his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial
and his Fourth Amendment right to substantive due process.
Id. at 1-2.
Government opposes the Motion, arguing Welch waived his right
to challenge the search warrant by denying he had standing as
a mere visitor of the residence. The Government also argues
Welch's claim that Officer Werner never accessed the DMV
or BCA databases is factually incorrect. The Government has
submitted a DVS printout for March 2017 showing that Officer
Werner, whose user name for the DVS database is
"wernerjb", queried the name "Christopher
Welch" on March 26, 2017 at 11:05 p.m. See Gov't
Mem. Opp'n Mot. [Docket No. 143] Attach. 2 at 1-2. The
DVS printout further shows that after narrowing the search to
"Chris Welch," Officer Werner searched for
"DLPhotoSignature." Id. at 21-26. The
Government also argues this Court lacks jurisdiction to grant
a new trial while Welch's appeal is pending, and even if
the Court had jurisdiction the Motion fails because Welch
cannot satisfy the standard for a new trial.