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United States v. Belton

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 23, 2014



PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.

Defendant Marcus Belton has requested review of the Magistrate Judge's detention order and has moved for its revocation pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b). The government filed an opposition to defendant's motion for revocation of the detention order. The court held a hearing on the motion for revocation of the detention order on May 21, 2014. For the reasons stated on the record and set forth below, defendant's motion to revoke the detention order is DENIED.


In an indictment filed on January 16, 2014, defendant Marcus Belton is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and a forfeiture allegation. On March 11, 2014, Magistrate Judge Ryu held a detention hearing and ordered that Belton be detained, as no condition or combination of conditions in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(c) will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required and the safety of any other person and the community. In the order detaining defendant pending trial, Judge Ryu noted Belton's prior revocations of community supervision and criminal history. Doc. no. 7. The court notes that Pretrial Services was not able to interview with Belton's wife in advance of the detention hearing, and has ordered Pretrial Services to conduct that interview.

Belton's criminal history includes convictions for controlled substance offenses in 2001, 2005 and 2007, and convictions for firearms offenses in 1991 (carrying a concealed weapon) and 2007 (felon in possession). His state probation has been revoked five times since 1991. On November 27, 2002, he admitted to six supervised release violations while he was under supervision by U.S. Probation and was sentenced to 10 months custody. While he was on release, pending a voluntary surrender date to serve his 10-month sentence, Belton failed to show up for his voluntary surrender on January 3, 2003. U.S. v. Belton, CR 98-40082 DLJ, doc. nos. 1429-32. Judge Jensen issued a bench warrant, and Belton was subsequently arrested and prosecuted for failure to surrender for service of sentence, resulting in a guilty plea. Id., doc. nos. 1440, 1452, 1505, 1537.

At the time of his arrest on October 14, 2013, Belton was not on probation. Under his original sentence, his supervised release was due to expire in March 2015, but his supervision was terminated early in May 2013.


A. Standard of Review

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b), a criminal defendant is entitled to have a magistrate judge's detention order reviewed by "the court having original jurisdiction over the offense." The court reviews the Magistrate Judge's detention order de novo. United States v. Koenig, 912 F.2d 1190, 1191 (9th Cir. 1990).

In conducting de novo review of the Magistrate Judge's detention order, "the district court is not required to start over in every case, and proceed as if the magistrate's decision and findings did not exist.... It should review the evidence before the magistrate and make its own independent determination whether the magistrate's findings are correct, with no deference." Id. at 1193. The district court may, but is not required to, hold an evidentiary hearing. Id.

"Effective review of pretrial detention orders necessarily entails a speedy review in order to prevent unnecessary and lengthy periods of incarceration on the basis of an incorrect magistrate's decision." United States v. Fernandez-Alfonso, 813 F.2d 1571, 1572 (9th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (finding that 30-day delay in holding hearing to review detention order violated requirement under section 3142 for prompt review). A detention order must "include written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(i)(1).

B. Pretrial Detention

Under the Bail Reform Act, an authorized judicial officer may order the detention or release of a defendant pending trial. 18 U.S.C. § 3142 governs pretrial detention of criminal defendants. Under the procedures set forth in the statute, criminal defendants are ordinarily entitled to go free before trial. United States v. Motamedi, 767 F.2d 1403, 1405 (9th Cir. 1985). In "rare circumstances, " however, a court may order a defendant detained pending trial. Id. These circumstances are limited to those in which a judge finds that "no condition or combination of conditions" will "reasonably assure" the appearance of the defendant at trial, and the safety of the community. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). The government bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant poses a risk of flight, and of proving by clear and convincing evidence that no condition can reasonably assure ...

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