Present: Chief Judge Moon, Judges Willis and Fitzpatrick
Argued at Alexandria, Virginia

v. Record No. 2356-95-4 CHIEF JUDGE NORMAN K. MOON
FEBRUARY 18, 1997

William L. Winston, Judge

Denman A. Rucker (Rucker & Rucker, on brief),
for appellant.

Marla Graff Decker, Assistant Attorney
General (James S. Gilmore, III, Attorney
General; Kimberley A. Whittle, Assistant
Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Curtis Leon Bell appeals his conviction of distribution of
cocaine and distribution of cocaine within one thousand feet of a
school property. Bell raises two questions on appeal: did the
trial court err (1) in admitting into evidence oral statements by
Bell, lab reports, and a map, all of which had not been disclosed
to Bell’s trial counsel pursuant to a discovery order; and (2) in
denying his request for a mistrial based upon the failure of the
Commonwealth to disclose the identity of a confidential
informant. Because the Commonwealth had disclosed the
information to earlier counsel, and because the Commonwealth has
no duty to redisclose information every time counsel changes, we
Bell and the Commonwealth offered conflicting versions of
the facts. Undercover officer King testified that on May 18,
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1993, he and a confidential informant rode together to Culpeper
Street, a known open-air drug market, with the intent to purchase
cocaine. Upon their arrival, King testified that the
confidential informant pointed out Bell and another man standing
in a group as likely drug dealers. The confidential informant
then exited the vehicle. King stated that he watched the
informant walk down the street and that the informant never met
with Bell. Instead, Bell broke away from the group and
approached King’s car. At the car, Bell inquired about how much
money King had with him. King replied that he had $150 and
testified that Bell then sold him $150 worth of cocaine. King
and Bell then exchanged pager numbers in order that King could
contact Bell to make future purchases.
King testified that immediately following the transaction he
reported what had taken place to Lt. Medairos, a fellow officer
who had been involved with the operation but who did not observe
the transaction. Subsequently, Medairos prepared a police report
indicating that the informant had made contact with Bell and had
been involved in bringing Bell to King’s car. However, at trial,
Medairos testified that although it was the original plan for the
informant to introduce King to Bell, “actually . . . Mr. Bell
walked right over to Mr. King.”
King testified that on May 25, 1993, he again met with Bell
and purchased $300 worth of cocaine from him. King testified
that he was alone when he met with Bell. Detective Fernandez,
who was also involved with the operation on May 25, testified
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that he did not see the informant with King on the day of the
Bell testified that on both May 18 and May 25, the informant
was with King. Bell stated that on May 18, 1993, the informant
went to Bell’s home and at the informant’s request Bell went out
to acquire some cocaine for the informant’s boss. Bell said that
he returned with cocaine and delivered it to the informant who
went outside and got into King’s car. Bell stated that a few
minutes later he proceeded to King’s car and informed King that
the informant had the cocaine.
Bell testified that on May 25, he was again contacted by the
informant who “begged” Bell to supply additional cocaine for the
informant’s boss. Bell stated that he met with the informant and
King and that at their urging he acquired an additional $300
worth of cocaine, which he gave to the informant.
Bell was indicted on August 16, 1993 on two counts of
distribution of cocaine and one count of distribution of cocaine
within one thousand feet of a school zone. Stephen Crum was
appointed to represent Bell in a number of cases, including this
case. Prior to proceeding in any of the trials, Bell discharged
Mr. Crum and retained Clarence Stanback. Mr. Stanback
represented Bell in several trials, but was replaced in February,
1995 by counsel who represented Bell on trial of the charges now
on appeal.
During trial, Bell’s counsel moved for a mistrial arguing
that he had only learned of the involvement of the informant the
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day before trial and it had been incumbent upon the Commonwealth,
given the extensive involvement of the informant, to reveal to
present counsel the identity of the informant. A hearing on the
extent of the informant’s involvement was conducted during trial,
in the absence of the jury. During this hearing, Bell’s first
attorney, Mr. Crum, testified that he had been granted open
discovery and that while reviewing the prosecutor’s files, he had
discovered and taken notes on a police report which indicated the
informant had significant involvement in the cocaine
transactions. Mr. Crum testified that he turned his notes over
to Mr. Stanback when Mr. Crum was replaced as counsel by Mr.
Stanback. Bell’s present counsel stated that he had been
notified by Mr. Stanback the day before trial that Mr. Stanback
had found Mr. Crum’s notes regarding a police report detailing
the informant’s involvement. These notes were delivered to
Bell’s counsel the day before trial. At the conclusion of the
hearing the trial court found that there had not been sufficient
involvement of the informant to require disclosure of the
informant’s identity and accordingly, the trial court denied
Bell’s motion for a mistrial.
Bell also objected to the introduction into evidence of
conversations between Bell and King, certificates of analysis,
and a map of the area of the second transaction. Counsel argued
that the items should have been excluded because they had not
been provided to Bell’s present counsel prior to trial. The
Commonwealth argued the items should be admitted because they had
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been provided to one of Bell’s two prior attorneys. The trial
court admitted the items into evidence.
Admission of Evidence
Bell contends that the Commonwealth violated its discovery
obligation by failing to provide Bell’s present counsel with
copies of laboratory reports, of Bell’s statements to King, and
of a map. Bell’s first and second attorneys were each provided
these materials during discovery. Bell’s first attorney had
open-file discovery and accordingly had direct access to all of
the Commonwealth’s information. Bell’s second attorney had
written discovery which the record indicates the Commonwealth
complied with, again making available to Bell’s counsel the
requisite information.
“When an accused is represented by counsel, the requirements
of Rule 3A:11 . . . are satisfied when defense counsel is
afforded the opportunity to inspect the Commonwealth’s evidence.”
Pope v. Commonwealth, 234 Va. 114, 120, 360 S.E.2d 352, 356
(1987), cert. denied, 485 U.S. 1015 (1988). The record supports
the trial court’s conclusion that the Commonwealth complied with
the discovery order by exhibiting the items of evidence to Bell’s
first two attorneys. We find nothing in the law of Virginia
which would require the Commonwealth, under the facts and
circumstances of this case, having once disclosed the information
to Bell’s original attorneys, to yet again provide this same
information to Bell’s latest attorney. Accordingly, the trial
court committed no error in admitting the evidence.
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Confidential Informant
In the midst of trial Bell’s counsel asked the trial court
to declare a mistrial on the basis that the Commonwealth had
failed to disclose the identity of a confidential informant Bell
claimed had extensively participated in the purchases made on May
18 and May 25. The record proves that the Commonwealth disclosed
to Bell’s prior counsel the involvement of the informant. For
the same reasons stated above, the Commonwealth had no duty to
redisclose the same information to new counsel. Further, the
record indicates that Bell himself knew the informant, although
he was unaware of the informant’s status as an informant.
Accordingly, Bell’s motion for a mistrial was without merit.