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United States v. Burnett

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

October 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
VINSON BURNETT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF DETENTION

          DAVID L. HORAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         In an Order Accepting Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge Concerning Plea of Guilty, dated September 18, 2019, Chief Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn has referred this matter to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for a hearing to determine whether it has been clearly shown that there are exceptional circumstances under § 3145(c) why Defendant Vinson Burnett should not be detained under § 3143(a)(2), and whether it has been shown by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant Vinson Burnett is not likely to flee or pose a danger to any other person or the community if released under § 3142(b) or (c) or whether there is a substantial likelihood that a motion for acquittal or new trial will be granted or that the Government has recommended that no sentence of imprisonment be imposed. See Dkt. No. 32.

         Background

         Defendant is set for sentencing before Judge Lynn on December 20, 2019. See Dkt. No. 28. “[W]hether a defendant should be released pending trial and whether a defendant should be released pending sentencing or appeal are distinct inquiries governed by different provisions of the Bail Reform Act.” United States v. Lee, 31 Fed.Appx. 151, No. 01-30876, 2001 WL 1747632, at *1 (5th Cir. Dec. 4, 2001).

         “The provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3143 govern release pending sentencing or appeal.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 46(c). 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2) dictates that the Court “shall order that a person who has been found guilty of an offense in a case described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (f)(1) of section 3142 and is awaiting imposition or execution of sentence be detained unless - (A)(i) the judicial officer finds there is a substantial likelihood that a motion for acquittal or new trial will be granted; or (ii) an attorney for the Government has recommended that no sentence of imprisonment be imposed on the person; and (B) the judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to any other person or the community.” 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2).

         On January 24, 2019, the undersigned United States magistrate judge released Defendant subject to an Order Setting Conditions of Release. See Dkt. No. 13.

         “The provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3143 govern release pending sentencing or appeal.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 46(c). 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2) dictates that the Court “shall order that a person who has been found guilty of an offense in a case described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (f)(1) of section 3142 and is awaiting imposition or execution of sentence be detained unless - (A)(i) the judicial officer finds there is a substantial likelihood that a motion for acquittal or new trial will be granted; or (ii) an attorney for the Government has recommended that no sentence of imprisonment be imposed on the person; and (B) the judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to any other person or the community.” 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2).

         Defendant filed a Motion for Release Pending Sentencing, see Dkt. No. 25, and a supplemental motion, see Dkt. No. 35, in which he identifies the exceptional circumstances under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c) that he contends justify his continued release post-conviction and in which he addresses whether he is likely to flee or pose a danger to any other person or the community if released under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(b) or (c) pending sentencing.

         The Court held a hearing on October 9, 2019 on the matters referred by Judge Lynn, at which Defendant appeared in person and through counsel and the government's counsel appeared.

         Legal Standards and Analysis

          As a preliminary matter, Defendant is subject to mandatory detention under Section 3143(a)(2) because he has, on a guilty plea, now been adjudged guilty of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1). See Dkt. No. 32; see also Dkt. No. 35 at 1-2. That is “a crime of violence” under 3142(f)(1)(A) as “ any felony under chapter ... 110.” See 18 U.S.C §§ 3143(a)(2), 3156(a)(4)(C).

         Defendant therefore must be detained pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2) unless he meets the conditions of release set forth in Section 3143(a)(2) or 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c). Release of “a person who has been found guilty of an offense in a case described in [18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(A)] and is awaiting imposition or execution of sentence” requires that “the judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to any other person or the community.” 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2)(B); see also United States v. Morrison, 833 F.3d 491, 506 (5th Cir. 2016) (“The decision to detain Jacqueline after conviction is a common one because of the presumption in favor of detention that attaches to a convicted defendant. See 18 U.S.C. § 3143.”); United States v. Lopez, 504 Fed.Appx. 297, 298 (5th Cir. 2012) (“A defendant who has been convicted ‘shall ... be detained' pending sentencing ‘unless the judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released.' Thus, there is a presumption against release pending sentencing.” (footnotes omitted)). As the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has repeatedly recognized, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 46(c) and Section 3143(a)(1) impose a burden on a convicted defendant seeking release pending sentencing to show by clear and convincing evidence that she or he is not a flight risk or a danger to the community. See 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(1); Fed. R. Crim. P. 46(c) (“The 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.”); United States v. Lockett, 549 Fed.Appx. 269 (mem.), No. 13-11097, 2013 WL 6623771, at *1 (5th Cir. Dec. 17, 2013).

         Further, Defendant must meet the conditions of release set forth in Section 3143(a)(2)(A) or 3145(c). Defendant cannot, and does not claim that he can, satisfy the Section 3143(a)(2)(A) showing that there is a substantial likelihood that a motion for acquittal or new trial will be granted or that an attorney for the government has recommended that no sentence of imprisonment be imposed on Defendant.

         18 U.S.C. § 3145(c) provides that “[a] person subject to detention pursuant to [18 U.S.C. §] 3143(a)(2) or (b)(2), and who meets the conditions of release set forth in [18 U.S.C. §] 3143(a)(1) or (b)(1), may be ordered released, under appropriate conditions, by the judicial officer, if it is clearly shown that there are exceptional reasons why such person's detention would not be appropriate.” As reflected in the Report and Recommendation Concerning Plea of Guilty [Dkt. No. 215], Section 3145(c) provides an alternative basis for pre-sentencing release under “exceptional circumstances, ” so long as Defendant also makes the required showing under Section 3143(a)(1) and 3143(a)(2)(B) - that is, by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant is not ...


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