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United States v. Linden

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

September 19, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CARL ARTHUR LINDEN, JR., Defendant.

          ORDER

          LINEAR. READK JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The matter before the court is Defendant Carl Arthur Linden, Jr.’s Objections (docket no. 105) to United States Chief Magistrate Judge C.J. Williams’s Report and Recommendation (docket no. 104), which recommends that the court deny Defendant’s “Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea” (“Motion”) (docket no. 92).

         II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On November 15, 2016, a grand jury returned a one-count Indictment (docket no. 2) charging Defendant with possession of a national firearms destructive device not registered to possessor in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841, 5861(d) and 5871. The Indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation. On March 13, 2017, the government filed a one-count Information (docket no. 57) alleging that Defendant had possessed ammunition as an unlawful drug user in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(3) and 924(a)(2). On that same date, Defendant filed a Waiver of Indictment (docket no. 58).

         On March 13, 2017, Defendant entered a plea of guilty to Count 1 of the Information. See March 13, 2017 Minute Entry (docket no. 61). Defendant appeared at the plea hearing with his attorney, Alfred Willett. Assistant United States Attorney Justin Lightfoot represented the government. On March 13, 2017, Judge Williams issued a Report and Recommendation (docket no. 62), which recommended that the court accept Defendant’s plea of guilty. On March 14, 2017, the court accepted the March 13, 2017 Report and Recommendation and adjudged Defendant guilty of Count I of the Information. See Order Accepting Guilty Plea (docket no. 65).

         On July 12, 2017, Defendant filed the Motion. On July 19, 2017, the government filed a Resistance (docket no. 99). The Motion came before Judge Williams for hearing on July 31, 2017. See July 31, 2017 Minute Entry (docket no. 102). On August 4, 2017, Judge Williams issued the Report and Recommendation, recommending that the court deny the Motion. On August 15, 2017, Defendant filed the Objections. The Report and Recommendation regarding the Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea and the Objections are fully submitted and ready for decision.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a party files a timely objection to a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, a “judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) (“The district judge must consider de novo any objection to the magistrate judge’s recommendation.”); United States v. Lothridge, 324 F.3d 599, 600 (8th Cir. 2003) (noting that a district judge must “undertake[] a de novo review of the disputed portions of a magistrate judge’s report and recommendations”). “A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) (“The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation, receive further evidence, or resubmit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.”). It is reversible error for a district court to fail to engage in a de novo review of a magistrate judge’s report when such review is required. Lothridge, 324 F.3d at 600. Accordingly, the court reviews the disputed portions of the Report and Recommendation de novo.

         IV. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         On March 13, 2017, Defendant entered a plea of guilty to possession of ammunition by an unlawful drug user. March 13, 2017 Minute Entry. At the hearing, Defendant testified that he knowingly possessed ammunition between December of 2015 and January of 2016 and that he was an unlawful user of marijuana at that time. Government Exhibit 3 (docket no. 99-4) at 10-11. Defendant also testified that he was generally satisfied with his attorney’s representation. Id. at 7. Defendant then testified twice that no one had “forced or pressured or threatened [him] in any way to get [him] to plead guilty.” Id. at 22-23, 25. Defendant also affirmed that his decision to plead guilty was voluntary. Id. at 25.

         At the plea hearing, the government introduced the Plea Agreement (docket no. 64), which contains a stipulation of facts. See Plea Agreement ¶ 7. Defendant stipulated that, “[o]n or about December 2015 through January 2016” he “knowingly possessed ammunition” that had “traveled in interstate commerce.” Id. Defendant also stipulated that he had “smoked marijuana on multiple occasions from about December 2015 through at least January 2016.” Id. At the plea hearing, Defendant testified that he initialed these paragraphs of the stipulation of facts “to indicate that the information contained in those paragraphs [was] true and correct.” Government Exhibit 3 at 14. Defendant was released pending sentencing. Id. at 33.

         Defendant’s release was subsequently revoked on April 25, 2017. See April 25, 2017 Minute Entry (docket no. 72). On May 9, 2017, Defendant and Mr. Willett came before Judge Williams on Mr. Willett’s Motion to Withdraw (docket no. 74). At the hearing, Defendant testified that “Mr. Willett asked [him] to plead guilty to something [he] didn’t do.” Motion to Withdraw as Counsel Hearing Transcript (docket no. 100) at 3. Judge Williams granted Mr. Willett’s Motion to Withdraw and appointed Attorney F. David Eastman to represent Defendant.

         V. ...


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