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United States v. Jones

United States District Court, W.D. New York

July 11, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
MICHAEL JONES, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          William M. Skretny, United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before this Court are two related motions. First, Defendant Michael Jones moves to dismiss the indictment against him on speedy trial grounds under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161 et seq., and the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (Docket No. 129.) Second, Defendant moves for release from pretrial detention under 18 U.S.C. § 3164 (b) based on similar speedy trial grounds, as articulated in his oral motion before this Court on July 10, 2017. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motions are both denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         The facts of this case are fully set forth in this Court's previous decisions denying Defendant's motions to suppress evidence, familiarity with which is presumed. See United States v. Jones, 15-CR-133S, 2017 WL 2531712 (W.D.N.Y. June 11, 2017); United States v. Jones, 15-CR-133S, 2016 WL 7208756 (W.D.N.Y. Dec. 13, 2016).

         In short, on March 7, 2015, at 10:45 p.m., Buffalo police officers William Robinson and Anniel Vidal were on routine patrol in the City of Buffalo, N.Y., when they came upon a vehicle parked on Westminster Avenue with its hood open. As the officers approached, they observed Defendant on the passenger side of the vehicle, along the curb, by the front wheel well, hunched over the open hood. The officers pulled up to Defendant's vehicle to investigate. After a brief encounter, Defendant fled on foot, with Officer Vidal chasing him. When Officer Vidal apprehended Defendant, he discovered a black bag containing rocks of crack cocaine.

         B. District Court Proceedings

         On July 9, 2015, the grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Defendant with possessing cocaine base with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 (a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). (Docket No. 1.)

         On July 16, 2015, the Honorable Hugh B. Scott, United States Magistrate Judge, arraigned Defendant on the indictment. (Docket No. 5.) Judge Scott accepted Defendant's not guilty plea and granted the government's request for detention pending a detention hearing. (Docket No. 5.) He also set a pretrial discovery/pretrial motion schedule and excluded time through September 29, 2015, under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161 (h)(7)(A) and (h)(7)(B)(iv), to allow for pretrial proceedings. (Docket Nos. 5, 6, 7.)

         On July 22, 2015, Judge Scott conducted a detention hearing, at the conclusion of which he determined that Defendant was both a flight risk and a danger to the community. (Docket No. 8.) He therefore ordered that Defendant be detained pending trial, where he has remained since. (Docket No. 8.)

         On September 28, 2015, Defendant moved to adjourn the pretrial discovery/pretrial motion schedule, which was to expire the next day, on the basis that "the parties have been diligently working together trying to reach a plea agreement and are in the process of reviewing voluntary discovery . . . However, the parties are requesting additional time to review said discovery and negotiate a plea." (Docket No. 11.) Defendant further stated that he "agrees that the additional time allowed within which to file pretrial motions is excludable under the Speedy Trial Act." (Docket No. 11.) Judge Scott granted Defendant's motion the next day, issued a new pretrial discovery/pretrial order schedule, and excluded time from "9/29/15 through 12/2/15 in the interest of justice for discovery review and motion preparation if no early resolution occurs." (Docket Nos. 12, 13.)

         On December 1, 2015, one day before the deadline for pretrial motions, Defendant again moved to adjourn the pretrial discovery/pretrial motion schedule on the basis that "the parties have been diligently working together trying to reach a plea agreement and are in the process of reviewing voluntary discovery . . . However, the parties are requesting additional time to review said discovery and negotiate a plea." (Docket No. 17.) Again, Defendant indicated his agreement that any additional time allowed "is excludable under the Speedy Trial Act." (Docket No. 17.) Judge Scott granted Defendant's motion the same day, issued a new pretrial discovery/pretrial order schedule, and excluded time from "12/1/15 through 2/12/16 in the interest of justice for discovery review and motion preparation if no early resolution occurs." (Docket Nos. 18, 19.)

         On February 12, 2016, Defendant filed an omnibus pretrial motion. (Docket No. 20.) The government filed its response on February 29, 2016. (Docket No. 24.) The parties then appeared for oral argument before Judge Scott on March 3, 2016, at which time Judge Scott reserved decision on whether a hearing was necessary. (Docket No. 25.) The minute entry from those proceedings further indicates that "[t]ime remains excluded because pretrial motions remain pending." (Docket No. 25.)

         On March 4, 2016, Judge Scott issued a Decision and Order determining that Defendant's non-dispositive motions were moot and that a hearing was required to resolve Defendant's Motion to Suppress. (Docket No. 26.) Judge Scott scheduled the suppression hearing for April 7, 2016, and noted that "Speedy-trial time remains excluded under 18 U.S.C. § 3161 (h)(1)(D) because Jones's suppression motion remains pending." (Docket No. 26.)

         On April 7, 2016, the parties conducted the suppression hearing before Judge Scott, at the conclusion of which Judge Scott ordered the parties to file simultaneous post-hearing briefs within 30 days of receiving the hearing transcript. (Docket No. 29.) The minute entry from that proceeding notes that "[t]ime remains excluded because pretrial motions remain pending." (Docket No. 29.)

         On June 3, 2016, the court reporter filed the hearing transcript. (Docket No. 31.) Neither party filed their post-hearing briefs by July 3, 2016 (30 days after the filing of the transcript) as Judge Scott ordered. Thereafter, the government moved on July 19, 2016, for a nunc pro tunc extension of time for the parties to file post-hearing briefs, citing counsels' heavy caseloads as the reason they both missed Judge Scott's deadline. (Docket No. 32.) Judge Scott granted the government's motion the next day and extended the deadline to August 3, 2016, again noting that "[t]ime remains excluded because pretrial motions remain pending." (Docket No. 33.)

         Counsel timely filed their post-hearing briefs. (Docket Nos. 35, 36.) Thereafter, on August 16, 2016, Judge Scott issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that Defendant's Motion to Suppress be granted. (Docket No. 37.) On August 22, 2016, the government moved for an extension of time to file objections to Judge Scott's Report and Recommendation, which this Court granted on August 24, 2016, extending the government's deadline for objections to September 30, 2016. (Docket Nos. 38, 39.)

         On September 16, 2016, Defendant moved to be released from pretrial detention on conditions. (Docket No. 40.) Judge Scott deferred addressing Defendant's motion until the Report and Recommendation proceedings were concluded. (Docket No. 41.)

         On September 30, 2016, the government filed its objections to the Report and Recommendation and its response to Defendant's motion for release on conditions. (Docket Nos. 43, 44.)

         On November 16, 2016, after full briefing on the government's objections to the Report and Recommendation, this Court held a status conference to discuss the objections and Defendant's motion for release. (Docket No. 47.) This Court advised the parties that it would need to review the entire transcript of the suppression hearing to resolve the government's objections and that it would defer ruling on Defendant's motion for release pending that review. (Docket No. 47.) This Court also excluded time pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161 (h)(7)(A), (h)(1)(D), and (h)(1)(H), through December 14, 2016, the date of the next status conference. (Docket No. 47.)

         On December 13, 2016, this Court issued a Decision and Order granting the government's objections, setting aside Judge Scott's Report and Recommendation, and denying Defendant's Motion to Suppress. (Docket No. 49.) At the status conference the next day, this Court granted the parties' request for an adjournment to discuss a possible plea resolution and set another status conference for February 1, 2017, with time to be excluded under 18 U.S.C. § 3161 (h)(7)(A). (Docket No. 50.)

         Then, in early 2017, Defendant wrote to this Court complaining about his retained lawyer in this case and the retained lawyer representing him relative to a pending supervised release violation (04-CR-32S). (Docket No. 52.) Thereafter, on January 31, 2017, this Court referred this case back to Judge Scott for resolution of any representation issues. (Docket No. 52). This Court also excluded time from January 31, 2017, "through the next status date scheduled by Judge Scott, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161 (h)(7)(A) and (h)(7)(B)(iv)." (Docket No. 52.) In doing so, this Court specifically found that "the ends of justice served in (1) allowing adequate time for Defendant to resolve his representation and conflict issues, and (2) permitting continuity of ...


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