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United States v. Smith

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

March 2, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
BRUCE ALAN SMITH, JR., Defendant.

ORDER

LOUISE W. FLANAGAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on defendant's motion for review of the magistrate judge's oral pretrial detention order entered February 9, 2015, with written order filed February 10, 2015 (DE 29). Requested review having been undertaken, for reasons given below, defendant's plea for release is denied.

BACKGROUND

Defendant is charged in an indictment returned January 20, 2015, with a single count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1); 841(b)(1)(B); and 846 (DE 1). The Pretrial Services Report recommended defendant's release on a Personal Recognizance Bond, under custody of his girlfriend, Jessica Prince ("Prince"). (DE 24).

Defendant appeared before the Hon. James E. Gates, United States Magistrate Judge, for detention hearing on February 9, 2015. Following the hearing, the magistrate judge entered an order of detention pending trial. (DE 29). Defendant requests that the district court reverse the decision of the magistrate judge.

COURT'S DISCUSSION

If a person is ordered detained by a magistrate judge, the person may file with the district court a motion for revocation of the order. 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b). The district court should conduct a de novo review of the decision by the magistrate judge. United States v. Clark, 865 F.2d 1433, 1437 (4th Cir. 1989); United States v. Williams, 753 F.2d 329, 333 (4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Ramey, 602 F.Supp. 821, 822-24 (E.D. N.C. 1985).

In doing so, the court makes an independent determination as to whether the magistrate judge's findings are correct based on the court's review of the evidence before the magistrate judge. See Williams, 753 F.2d at 333-34. The court may conduct a further evidentiary hearing if it is necessary or desirable in carrying out the review. See id., at 333; see also United States v. Koenig, 912 F.2d 1190, 1192-93 (9th Cir. 1990) (district court has discretion on whether to conduct a further evidentiary hearing); United States v. Delker, 757 F.2d 1390, 1393-94 (3rd Cir. 1985); United States v. Fortna, 769 F.2d 243, 249-50 (5th Cir. 1985) (same). Having completed a thorough review of Judge Gates's detention order, as well as the report prepared by the United States Pretrial Services Office, and the defendant's motion, and having listened to a complete recording of the detention hearing, the undersigned finds that no further evidentiary hearing is necessary.

Pre-trial detention must be ordered when, after hearing, a judicial officer finds that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1). In a pretrial detention hearing, the government's burden is to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of the community. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f) ("The facts the judicial officer uses to support a finding pursuant to subsection (e) that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community shall be supported by clear and convincing evidence."); United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 751 (1987) (requiring "clear and convincing evidence that an arrestee presents an identified and articulable threat to an individual or community" to justify pretrial detention.). To consider whether any conditions of release will reasonably assure a defendant's attendance at trial, the government need only prove that there are no such conditions by a "preponderance of the evidence." United States v. Stewart, 19 F.Appx. 46, 47 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing United States v. Hazime, 762 F.2d 34, 37 (6th Cir. 1985)).

Because there is probable cause to believe that defendant committed an offense subject to a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years or more under 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq., defendant is subject by operation of law to the presumption, which may be rebutted by the defendant, that he is a risk of flight and a danger to the community, and that no condition or combination of conditions can be fashioned to assure his appearance and that he will not be a danger. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3). In determining whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required and the safety of any other person and the community, the court must take into account the available information concerning -

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime of violence or involves a narcotic drug;
(2) the weight of the evidence against the person;
(3) the history and characteristics of the person, including -
(A) the person's character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, ...

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