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United States v. Cline

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division

June 13, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DANIEL WINSLOW CLINE

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THE HONORABLE DAVID BRIONES SENIORUNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On this day, the Court considered Defendant Daniel Winslow Cline's ("Mr. Cline") "Motion to Dismiss Indictment" ("Motion"), filed in the above-captioned case on May 22, 2019. On May 28, 2019, the United States of America ("the Government") filed its "Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss" ("Response"). On June 3, 2019, Mr. Cline filed his "Reply to Government's Response to Motion to Dismiss Indictment" ("Reply"). On June 5, 2019, the Government filed its "Surreply to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss." After due consideration, the Court is of the opinion that Mr. Cline's Motion should be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 3, 2019, a grand jury sitting in the Western District of Texas returned a two-count Indictment ("Indictment"), which charges Mr. Cline with alleged interstate violations of two protection orders in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2262(a)(1) & (b)(5). Indictment 1-2, ECF No. 16. Specifically, the Indictment alleges that on or about March 4, 2019, and March 9, 2019, Mr. Cline traveled in interstate and foreign commerce with the intent to engage in conduct that would violate a protection order issued on August 27, 2018, in the District Court for Arapahoe County, Colorado and another protection order issued on September 17, 2018, in the County Court for Douglas County, Colorado. Id. In the jurisdictions in which the protection orders were issued, the protection orders provided protection against violence, threats, and harassment, as well as prohibited contact, communication, and physical proximity with Mr. Cline's girlfriend ("G.H."). Id. The Indictment alleges that Mr. Cline subsequently engaged in such prohibited contact with G.H. in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2262(a)(1) & (b)(5). Id.

         On August 26, 2018, Colorado authorities charged Mr. Cline with strangling G.H. while she was pregnant, forcibly imprisoning her for more than 12 hours, harassing her by striking or shoving or kicking, knowingly or recklessly assaulting her while pregnant, and using a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Mot. Ex. B, ECF No. 27; Resp. Ex. 1, at 1- 2, ECF. No. 31. The next day, on August 27, 2018, Mr. Cline and his counsel appeared at a hearing in the Arapahoe County District Court held before a judge who advised Mr. Cline of his rights before Mr. Cline waived further advisement. Resp. Ex. 1, at 2, ECF No. 31. The judge gave Mr. Cline a copy of the complaint and information. Id.

         Then the judge considered conditions of bond for Mr. Cline and incorporated a mandatory protection order, along with a domestic violence addendum, into the conditions of his bond after advising Mr. Cline as to the contents of the mandatory protection order. Id. at 2-3. Mr. Cline signed and dated the mandatory protection order acknowledging receipt. Resp. Ex. 2, at 1, ECF No. 31. The mandatory protection order gave Mr. Cline notice that he could "apply at any time for the modification or dismissal of this Protection Order." Id. at 2.

         On August 28, 2018, Mr. Cline had a second hearing at which he was represented by counsel who requested to address bond, but the court ordered bond to remain unchanged. Id. at 3. On August 29, 2018, a third bond hearing was scheduled but had to be reset due to Mr. Cline's refusal to be transported to court. Id. On August 30, 2018, Mr. Cline and his counsel appeared at his bond hearing where the court set a $1, 000 corporate surety bond, which Mr. Cline posted in September 2018. Resp. 2, ECF No. 31.

         On September 15, 2018, Mr. Cline was rearrested for domestic violence and for violating the protection order issued by the Arapahoe County District Court less than a month before. Mot. Ex. C and Ex. D, ECF No. 27; Resp. Ex. 3, at 2, ECF No. 31. A public parks officer was notified of a verbal disturbance between Mr. Cline and G.H. Resp. Ex. 3, at 2, ECF No. 31. An officer interviewed G.H. who told him that Mr. Cline had been yelling at her for losing his drugs. Id. She also told the officer that she was "currently a victim in a different case with CLINE [sic] as is [sic] the protected party on a [m]andatory [p]rotection [o]rder." Id.

         On September 17, 2018, Mr. Cline appeared in the Douglas County District Court represented by a public defender. Resp. Ex. 4, ECF No. 31. Mr. Cline was "advised, asked, and acknowledged [of his] [ ] understanding of the conditions of the [mandatory protection order]." Id. This second mandatory protection order contained the same provision as the order from the Arapahoe County District Court, including the notice that Mr. Cline could "apply at any time for the modification or dismissal of this Protection Order," however it did not include a domestic violence addendum. Compare Resp. Ex. 2, ECF No. 31, with Resp. Ex. 5, ECF No. 31.

         On March 4, 2019, Mr. Cline and G.H. were headed to a Douglas County court hearing together when they changed course and traveled south toward Mexico. Mot. 2, ECF No. 27 (citing Complaint 2, ECF No. 2). On March 9, 2019, their multi-day road trip ended at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint where Mr. Cline was arrested for violating 18 U.S.C. § 2262, which makes it a crime to travel in interstate commerce with the intent to violate protection orders and to subsequently engage in conduct that violates those orders. Id.; Resp. 3, ECF No. 31 (citing Indictment, ECF No. 16).

         STANDARD

         According to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12, a defendant may make a pretrial motion to dismiss based on a claimed defect in the indictment, including failure to state an offense. FED. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(3)(B)(v). To state an offense for interstate violation of a protection order under 18 U.S.C. § 2262(a)(1), an indictment must state:

[a] person who travels in interstate or foreign commerce... with the intent to engage in conduct that violated the portion of a protection order that prohibits or provides protection against violence, threats, or harassment against, contact or communication with, or physical proximity to, another person... or that would violate such a portion of a protection order in the jurisdiction in which the order was issued, and subsequently engages in such conduct, shall be punished[.]

         While the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do not explicitly sanction a defendant's ability to file a motion to dismiss an indictment based on an alleged lack of due process in the state procedures leadings to an underlying offense, the Court will analyze and apply the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment: "[n]o state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any ...


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