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United States v. Clark

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

February 25, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DONALD MICHAEL CLARK, JR

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.

This case comes before the Court on the defendant's Motion for Release (Docket Entry 15). (See Docket Entry dated Feb. 19, 2014.) For the reasons that follow, the Court denies that Motion.

BACKGROUND

A federal grand jury for this district indicted the defendant for possessing a firearm as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Docket Entry 1.) The case thereafter came before the Court for a hearing on an oral motion for detention by the United States, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(E). (See Docket Entry dated Sept. 9, 2013.) After that hearing, the Court (per the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge) ordered the defendant's detention because clear and convincing evidence established that no available release conditions would reasonably assure the safety of the community. (See id.; Docket Entry 10.) Subsequently, the defendant pleaded guilty as charged, whereupon the Court (per United States District Judge Catherine C. Eagles) found a factual basis and set a sentencing date. (See Docket Entry dated Nov. 7, 2013; see also Docket Entries 11 (Factual Basis), 14 (Plea Agreement).) The defendant thereafter filed the instant Motion. (See Docket Entry 15.)

DISCUSSION

Via his instant Motion, the defendant "prays for an order that he be released from custody, pending the sentencing hearing in this matter, under such conditions as the [C]ourt deems proper." (Id. at 2-3.) As factual support for that request, the instant Motion cites the following:

1) "[the defendant's] father suffers from metastatic colon cancer... [and his] mother is in need of [his] assistance in caring for his father prior to his beginning to serve the sentence he is likely to receive" (id. at 1);[1]

2) "[the defendant] does not know whether his father will be alive upon the completion of his sentence and would like to assist his mother in caring for his father prior to beginning his sentence" (id. at 2); and

3) "[the defendant] would reside with his parents... in the third party custody of his mother" (id.).

The defendant's instant Motion, however, does not identify the legal authority under which he seeks release pending sentencing. (See id. at 1-3.) Nor has independent research identified any lawful basis for release. First, because the defendant has pleaded guilty, he no longer retains a right to reopen his detention hearing. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f) (limiting option for reopening detention hearing, inter alia, to "time before trial"). Second, now that the defendant has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing, the Court could not release him "unless [it] finds by clear and convincing evidence that [he] is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released...." 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(1).[2] Moreover, "[t]he burden of establishing that the defendant will not flee or pose a danger to any other person or to the community rests with the defendant." Fed. R. Crim. P. 46(c).

In his instant Motion, the defendant asserts in conclusory fashion that he "does not pose a risk of flight or danger to the community." (Docket Entry 15 at 2.) The Court, however, previously determined otherwise. (See Docket Entry 10 at 5-6.) Specifically, before the defendant's entry of a guilty plea (at a juncture when the United States held the burden of persuasion), the Court concluded that the record established by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant posed a risk of danger to the community insufficiently addressed by available release conditions, including home incarceration with electronic monitoring and a third-party custodian. (See id.) Nothing in the instant Motion alters that conclusion or, more importantly, given the legal standard now applicable, would establish by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant does not pose a danger to the community.

To the extent the defendant intended to seek relief via the "exceptional reasons" language of 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c), "that section does not apply to [him]. It relates only to a person subject to detention pursuant to section 3143(a)(2) or (b)(2), and who meets the conditions of release set forth in section 3143(a)(1) or (b)(1).'" United States v. Jones , 939 F.Supp.2d 6, 10 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c)) (emphasis added). Because the defendant does not meet those criteria, he cannot obtain release under Section 3145(c).

Paragraphs (1) and (2) of Section 3143(b) concern "sentenced" defendants who have "filed an appeal or a petition for a writ of certiorari, " 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b)(1) & (2), and thus the defendant (who has pleaded guilty, but has not yet received a sentence) qualifies as neither "a person subject to detention pursuant to" Section 3143(b)(2), 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c), nor one "who meets the conditions of release of" Section 3143(b)(1), 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c). Further, even if Section 3143(a)(2), which pertains only to defendants "found guilty of an offense in a case described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (f)(1) of section 3142, " 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2), applied in this case (which seems doubtful), [3] the defendant (for reasons set forth above) does not "meet[] the conditions of release set forth in section 3143(a)(1), " 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c). See Jones , 939 F.Supp.2d at 10 ("[Sections] 3143(a)(1) and (b)(1) only permit release if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant does not pose a danger to the safety of the community. This [c]ourt finds, as it has consistently done in the past, that [the] defendant cannot satisfy this burden.").

CONCLUSION

The defendant has not shown any lawful basis for the relief he requests.[4]

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the defendant's Motion for Release (Docket Entry 15) is DENIED.


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