United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO PRECLUDE
GOVERNMENT FROM INTRODUCING TEXT MESSAGES AND
Oki Mollway, United States District Judge
this court is Defendant Jonathan Cadet's Motion To
Preclude Government From Introducing Text Messages and
Communications. See ECF No. 25. Cadet has been
charged with obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation
and witness tampering. See ECF No. 1. These charges
relate to alleged communications with his wife, identified by
the Government as a victim in a pending sex trafficking case
to which Cadet is not a party. See id.; ECF No. 29,
PageID #s 84-85. Cadet now seeks to prevent the Government
from introducing these communications at the trial of his
case, arguing that the communications are covered by the
marital communications privilege. See ECF No. 25,
PageID # 64.
court agrees that the communications at issue fall within the
marital communications privilege. However, there is an
exception to the privilege when the communications relate to
a crime in which the spouse is a victim. Finding that this
exception applies to the privileged communications here, the
court denies Cadet's motion.
charges against Cadet relate to a pending criminal case,
United States v. Isaiah McCoy and Tawana Roberts,
Cr. No. 18-00016 SOM, in which the defendants are accused of
sex trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591
(“McCoy case”). On May 14, 2018, a
criminal complaint against Cadet was filed. See ECF
No. 1. The complaint alleges that Cadet called and sent text
messages to his wife, S.P.,  an alleged victim in the
McCoy case, threatening her and pressuring her not
to testify in the McCoy case. See id.,
PageID #s 2-3.
to the complaint, Cadet told S.P.:
that McCoy's “boys” were out looking for her
because she was a witness in his pending case . . ., that
“they are looking to kill u that's wat people do
wen u rat on them lines, ” and then called her a
“rat, ” a “lier, snake, demon, satin
child” and a “lier false witness devil” and
told her he would appear as a witness to defend McCoy . . . .
Id. at 2. Cadet was charged with one count of
obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(d) (“Count I”) and one
count of witness tampering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1512(a)(2), (b), and (d) (“Count II”).
3, 2018, Cadet filed the present motion, seeking to preclude
the Government from introducing at trial text messages and
communications between Cadet and S.P. See ECF No.
25, PageID # 64.
STANDARD FOR MARITAL COMMUNICATIONS PRIVILEGE.
501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides that, except as
otherwise required by the United States Constitution, federal
statute, or Supreme Court rule, “[t]he common law . . .
governs a claim of privilege.” Fed.R.Evid. 501. Federal
common law recognizes a marital communications privilege that
“protects from disclosure private communications
between spouses.” United States v. Griffin,
440 F.3d 1138, 1143-44 (9th Cir. 2006) (citations omitted).
The privilege exists to “protect the integrity of
marriages and ensure that spouses freely communicate with one
another.” Id. at 1143 (alterations omitted)
(quoting United States v. White, 974 F.2d 1135, 1138
(9th Cir. 1992)). The privilege may be invoked by the
nontestifying spouse even after dissolution of the marriage.
United States v. Marashi, 913 F.2d 724, 729 (9th
marital communications privilege covers only (1) “words
or acts intended as communication to the other spouse,
” (2) “those communications made during a valid
marriage, ” and (3) “those marital communications
which are confidential.” Id. at 729-30.
“Marital communications are presumptively confidential;
the government has the burden of demonstrating that they are
not.” Id. at 730. The Ninth Circuit has
“emphasized that we will narrowly construe the marital
communications privilege because it obstructs the
truth-seeking process.” Id.