United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
HONORABLE RICHARD J. ARCARA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Defendant, Ryan C. Lander, has moved pursuant to Fed. R.
Crim. P. 11(d) to withdraw a guilty plea. Defendant Lander
contends he was coerced by his former legal counsel and his
father into pleading guilty to one count of Production of
Child Pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
2252A(a)(5)(B). The Defendant seeks to withdraw his guilty
plea and to file pretrial motions to suppress oral admissions
and evidence that he suggests were obtained because law
enforcement officers questioned him without
Miranda warnings and coerced him into
consenting to searches and seizures. For the reasons stated
below, the Court finds the motion of the Defendant to
withdraw his guilty plea is without merit, and the motion is
of Relevant Law.
Second Circuit has stated, “[t]here is no legal
requirement that the decision to plead guilty be an easy
one.” United States v. Doe, 537 F.3d 204, 213
(2d Cir. 2008). “A guilty plea is no mere formality,
but [is] a ‘grave and solemn act.' ”
United States v. Arteca, 411 F.3d 315, 319 (2d Cir.
2005) (quoting United States v. Hyde, 520 U.S. 670,
677 (1997)). “ ‘[S]ociety has a strong interest
in the finality of guilty pleas, and allowing withdrawal of
pleas not only undermines confidence in the integrity of our
judicial procedures, but also increases the volume of
judicial work, and delays and impairs the orderly
administration of justice.' ” United States v.
Schmidt, 373 F.3d 100, 103 (2d Cir. 2004) (quoting
United States v. Maher, 108 F.3d 1513, 1529 (2d Cir.
the strong interest in the finality of guilty pleas, it bears
emphasis that a “guilty plea operates as a waiver of
important rights, and is valid only if done voluntarily,
knowingly, and intelligently, ‘with sufficient
awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely
consequences.' ” Bradshaw v. Stumpf, 545
U.S. 175, 183 (2005) (quoting Brady v. United
States, 397 U.S. 742, 748 (1970)). Accordingly, pursuant
to Fed. R. Crim. P. Rule 11(d), a defendant may be permitted
to withdraw a guilty plea after the plea has been formally
accepted by a court, but before sentencing, for “any
fair and just reason.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(d)(2)(B). A
defendant bears the burden to establish a fair and just
reason for guilty plea withdrawal. United States v.
Rivernider, 828 F.3d 91, 104 (2d Cir. 2016) .
general, a Rule 11(d) motion to withdraw a guilty plea
requires the court to consider:
(1) whether the defendant has asserted his or her legal
innocence in the motion to withdraw the guilty plea; (2) the
amount of time that has elapsed between the plea and the
motion (the longer the elapsed time, the less likely
withdrawal would be fair and just); and (3) whether the
government would be prejudiced by a withdrawal of the plea.
United States v. Schmidt, 373 F.3d 100, 102-03 (2d
Cir. 2004) (per curiam). The court is afforded “large
discretion” to determine whether these considerations
rise to the level of “fair and just reason[s]”
for withdrawal of a guilty plea when the court has itself
accepted the guilty plea. United States v. Saft, 558
F.2d 1073, 1082 (2d Cir. 1977).
course, “[c]ourts may also look to whether the
defendant has raised a significant question about the
voluntariness of the original plea.” Schmidt,
373 F.3d at 103 (quotation and modifications omitted).
Questions of voluntariness may be deemed insignificant and
resolved without an evidentiary hearing, and the motion to
withdraw the guilty plea may be denied, when a
defendant's allegations of involuntariness are
contradicted by the defendant's statements made under
oath during the plea proceeding. See United States v.
Gonzalez, 970 F.2d 1095, 1101 (2d Cir. 1992); United
States v. Diaz, 176 F.3d 52, 114 (2d Cir. 1999)
(application to remand for evidentiary hearing denied where
defendant's claim that he was threatened into pleading
guilty was unsupported in record and contradicted by his plea
colloquy); United States v. Torres, 129 F.3d 710,
715-16 (2d Cir. 1997) (same). Similarly, a Rule 11(d) motion
to withdraw a guilty plea may be denied without a hearing
when supporting allegations are “simply
conclusory” or “inherently incredible.”
Gonzalez, 970 F.2d at 1100.
Change-of-Plea Proceeding. During Defendant
Lander's plea colloquy on February 4, 2015, the Defendant
was sworn to tell the truth, and was instructed and
encouraged to proceed deliberately. Dkt. No. 75, pp. 2-3. The
following exchange was among the Court, the Defendant's
former attorney, and the Defendant:
THE COURT: Mr. Covert, you have gone over the charge with
your client. It's pretty straightforward. Are you
satisfied he understands it?
MR. COVERT: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And you've gone over the terms and conditions
of the plea agreement?
MR. COVERT: Many times, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And his rights under Rule 11?
MR. COVERT: Absolutely, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Now, sir, you have discussed this whole matter
with your attorney. He's explained to you what your legal
rights are, what your legal options are. You probably
didn't like to hear what he had to tell you, but he's
not there to make you feel good. He's there to be your
legal advisor. And apparently, based on those discussions,
you're here today to waive certain rights and to plead
guilty to Count 1 under the terms and conditions of the plea
agreement. Are you fully satisfied with the advice and
counsel you received from your lawyer?
DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Any complaints?
DEFENDANT: No, sir.
Dkt. No. 75, pp. 3-4. Defendant Lander, while under oath
during the relatively formal atmosphere of the Rule 11
change-of-plea proceeding, confirmed his satisfaction with
his counsel, Mr. Covert. Id. He did not say Mr.
Covert was pressuring him or coercing him to enter a guilty