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United States v. Pierce

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

May 12, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RONALD LESLIE PIERCE, JR., Defendant.

ORDER

JAMES C. FOX, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the court on Ronald Leslie Pierce, Jr.'s Notice of Appeal of Detention Decision by Magistrate Judge [DE-17]. In his Appeal, Pierce requests review of the detention order [DE-16] entered by United States Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Swank on April 20, 2015. The court heard testimony and argument from Pierce and the Government at a hearing held on May 8, 2015. For the reasons set forth below, Pierce's Notice of Appeal of Detention Decision by Magistrate Judge is DENIED.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On March 3, 2015, the grand jury indicted Pierce in an eleven-count indictment. See Indictment [DE-1]. In Counts One through Ten, Pierce is charged with receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). Count Eleven charges Pierce with possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B).

Pierce's initial appearance was held on March 31, 2015, before United States Magistrate Robert B. Jones, Jr. At that time, the Government moved for pretrial detention. Pierce was temporarily remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal, and a detention hearing was scheduled for April 6, 2015.

On April 6, 2015, a detention hearing was held by Magistrate Judge Swank. Pierce was present and represented by retained counsel Walter Hoytt Paramore, III. The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Carrie D. Randa. At the hearing, Pierce presented Dolly B. Pierce, his wife, and Duval Palmer, his son-in-law, as third-party custodians. The Government presented the testimony of SBI Agent Chris Stark.

In an order [DE-13] entered on April 7, 2015, Judge Swank noted that because there was probable cause to believe that Pierce committed an offense involving a minor victim under 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), there was a rebuttable presumption that no condition or combination of conditions would reasonably assure Pierce's appearance and the safety of the community. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(E). Judge Swank found that Pierce failed to rebut the presumption of danger and ordered the matter set for a bond review hearing on April 16, 2015. Judge Swank ordered that Pierce be detained by the United States Marshal pending the bond review hearing.

On April 16, 2015, Judge Swank held a bond review hearing. The Government presented additional testimony from SBI Agent Chris Stark, who testified about the results of a forensic preview of two computers in Pierce's possession that was conducted following the April 6, 2015 detention hearing. The court found that Pierce failed to rebut the presumption of danger and ordered that he be detained by the United States Marshal pending trial or further proceedings.

Pierce filed the instant Notice of Appeal of Detention Decision by Magistrate Judge [DE-17] on April 28, 2015. In his Appeal, Pierce requests the following: (1) this court conduct a plenary hearing of the appeal of Judge Swank's decision on detention; (2) this court weigh the evidence and find that conditions of release do exist which will resolve all issues about court appearance of Pierce and any risk of harm that he might pose to the public; and (3) Pierce be released on conditions of release.

II. Discussion

Under the Bail Reform Act, a court should release a defendant on a personal recognizance, unsecured bond, or specified condition or combination of conditions, whichever is the least restrictive necessary, to assure the defendant's appearance and the safety of others and the community. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(a)(1-2), (b) and (c). However, a defendant must be detained pending trial if, after a hearing, the court 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. Id. § 3142(e). It shall be presumed that no condition or combination of conditions exists to reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant or the safety of the community if there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed an offense involving a minor victim under 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). Id. § 3142(e)(3)(E). Thus, in this case, a rebuttable presumption of pretrial detention applies to Pierce.

At the May 8, 2015 hearing before this court, Pierce was present and represented by his retained counsel Walter Hoytt Paramore, III. The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Carrie D. Randa. Pierce presented his wife, Dolly B. Pierce, as a third-party custodian. The Government presented testimony from retired SBI Agent Chip Coble and SBI Agent Chris Stark.

Dolly testified that Pierce is her husband and that they will have been married for thirty-three years in July. Dolly testified that she and Pierce have two daughters. Dolly stated that Pierce served in the Air Force and the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged from both.

Dolly testified that she has suffered with a lot of medical issues, including cancer. Dolly stated that Pierce assists her with day-to-day care and helps her get to and from her doctors' offices because many of her doctors are in ...


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