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United States v. Watkins

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

April 24, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
WAYNE CHRISTOPHER WATKINS, Defendant.

ORDER FOR PRETRIAL DETENTION

JON STUART SCOLES, Magistrate Judge.

On the 24th day of April, 2015, this matter came on for hearing on the Government's request to have the Defendant detained prior to trial. The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham. The Defendant appeared personally and was represented by his attorney, Leslie E. Stokke.

I. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

On March 31, 2015, Defendant Wayne Christopher Watkins was charged by Indictment (docket number 3) with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance (Count 1) and possession with intent to distribute, and aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute, a controlled substance (Count 3). At the arraignment on April 22, 2015, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty and trial was scheduled before Chief Judge Linda R. Reade on June 22.

Officer Jerry Blomgren of the Iowa City Police Department testified regarding the circumstances underlying the instant charges. Early in 2014, authorities received information that Defendant Wayne Watkins was manufacturing synthetic drugs at his home in Cedar Rapids. A search warrant was obtained and executed on May 7, 2014. Officers found extensive evidence of the manufacture of synthetic drugs, as illustrated in the photographs identified as Government's Exhibits 1-35. After being Mirandized, Defendant admitted that he and co-Defendant Robert Sharp had been manufacturing synthetic drugs in his basement. According to Defendant, he was later paid $800 per week by Sharp to package synthetic drugs which Sharp delivered to Defendant's home.

Defendant is 39 years old. Until a year or two ago, Defendant lived in Illinois. His mother and brother continue to reside in Illinois. Defendant is single and has never been married, but has three children from three prior relationships. Those children also reside in Illinois.

Prior to his employment, Defendant was employed as a material handler at PMX Industries in Cedar Rapids. The vice-president of human resources for PMX told the pretrial services officer, however, that because Defendant had lied regarding his recent absence from work, it was likely he would be terminated in the near future.

Defendant's prior criminal record dates back to 1995, when Defendant was 19 years old. Excluding traffic offenses, Defendant has been convicted of domestic battery, disorderly conduct (X 2), driving under the influence of alcohol (X 2), knowingly damaging property, obstructing justice, intimidation/physical harm, battery, knowingly damaging property, domestic battery, battery, resisting a peace officer, and assault causing bodily injury. Many of the charges occurred while Defendant was under court supervision or had other charges pending. Defendant has failed to appear for court proceedings on ten different occasions.

II. DISCUSSION

The release or detention of a defendant pending trial is governed by the Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3142. In United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987), the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Bail Reform Act of 1984, while noting that "[i]n our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception." Id. at 755.

A. Legal Standard to be Applied

If the government moves to have a defendant detained prior to trial, the court must undertake a two-step inquiry. United States v. Friedman, 837 F.2d 48, 49 (2d Cir. 1988). The Court must first determine by a preponderance of the evidence that the case involves an offense listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1), or that the defendant presents certain risk factors, as identified in § 3142(f)(2). Id. Once this determination has been made, the court then determines, pursuant to § 3142(e), whether any condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the defendant's appearance at trial and the safety of the community. Id.

Regarding the first step, pretrial detention is not authorized unless the Court finds that at least one of seven enumerated circumstances is applicable. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f). The first five enumerated circumstances refer to "offense types, " such as crimes of violence, offenses punishable by life imprisonment, serious drug offenses, felonies committed by repeat offenders, and felonies involving minor victims or guns. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(A-E). The last two enumerated circumstances where a hearing is authorized involve "risk factors, " such as a serious risk of flight, or a serious risk the defendant will obstruct justice. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(A-B).

Regarding the second step, if following a hearing "the judicial officer 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, " then the judicial officer must order the defendant detained pending the trial. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). A finding that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of the community must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f). A finding that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure ...


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