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United States v. Stafford

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

April 10, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOSHUA STAFFORD, Defendant-Appellant

Argued March 11, 2015

Page 787

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland. No. 1:12-cr-00238-5--David D. Dowd, Jr., District Judge.

ARGUED:

Brodie M. Butland, PORTER WRIGHT MORRIS & ARTHUR LLP, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant.

Duncan T. Brown, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Brodie M. Butland, PORTER WRIGHT MORRIS & ARTHUR LLP, Cleveland, Ohio, W. Kelly Johnson, PORTER WRIGHT MORRIS & ARTHUR LLP, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellant.

Duncan T. Brown, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: SILER, ROGERS, and COOK, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 788

ROGERS, Circuit Judge.

Following trial, Joshua Stafford was convicted of conspiring with four others to bomb a bridge near Cleveland. Stafford had a history of mental illness, but after a competency hearing the district court found him competent to stand trial. Stafford on appeal challenges the district court's grant of his own motion, supported by his appointed counsel, to represent himself at trial. Although the district court could likely have exercised its discretion--recognized in the Supreme Court's holding in Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164, 128 S.Ct. 2379, 171 L.Ed.2d 345 (2008)--to impose counsel under the circumstances, it was not an abuse of that discretion in this case to grant Stafford's motion and permit Stafford to defend himself. The district court carefully examined Stafford's ability to represent himself, and standby counsel was provided. Also without merit is Stafford's challenge to the district court's application of a Guidelines enhancement for crimes of terrorism.

In early 2012, the FBI learned through a confidential informant of a possible terrorist cell led by Douglas Wright within the Cleveland-area spinoff of Occupy Wall Street. The informant had learned that Wright sought to attack financial institutions, bridges, and police in the Cleveland area. Over the course of a few months, Wright formed a conspiracy with four others to blow up a bridge. Wright first brought Brandon Baxter and Connor Stevens ...


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