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United States v. Gwathney-Law

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

June 15, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
TREY ALEXANDER GWATHNEY-LAW DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Judge.

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendant's Motion for Revocation of Detention Order and Request for Hearing (DN 58). For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant Trey Alexander Gwathney-Law (“Gwathney-Law”) is charged with (1) possession of a firearm not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d), 5871; (2) knowingly making a firearm in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(f), 5871; (3) attempted arson in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i); and (4) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), (B)(ii). (Superseding Indictment 1-3, DN 17).

         The Magistrate Judge conducted a detention hearing on December 9, 2015. (Tr. 1, DN 56). At the hearing, Gwathney-Law suggested that he should be released to live with his mother and grandmother, with one of the two serving as a third-party custodian. (See Tr. 4). Gwathney-Law also indicated that he had no objection to GPS monitoring. (See Tr. 4-5). The United States requested an order detaining Gwathney-Law pending trial on the ground that Gwathney-Law posed a danger to the community. (Tr. 11).

         After considering the evidence and information presented, the Magistrate Judge ordered that Gwathney-Law be detained. (Detention Order, DN 24; Tr. 28). He found that there was probable cause to believe that Gwathney-Law committed an offense for which a maximum prison term of ten years or more is prescribed in 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1); that Gwathney-Law failed to rebut the presumption in favor of detention provided by 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(B); and that no condition or combination of conditions would reasonably assure the safety of the community. (Detention Order; Tr. 25-28).

         Now, Gwathney-Law moves the Court to revoke the detention order. (Def.'s Mot. Revoke Detention Order & Req. Hr'g, DN 58 [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.]). The United States has responded to Gwathney-Law's motion. (Pl.'s Resp., DN 60). The matter is ripe for adjudication.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a magistrate judge orders pretrial detention, the detainee “may file, with the court having original jurisdiction over the offense, a motion for revocation or amendment of the order.” 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b). While the Sixth Circuit has not adopted a specific standard under which a magistrate judge's detention order should be reviewed, this Court and others within the Sixth Circuit have used the de novo standard. See, e.g., United States v. Loveland, No. 3:11-CR-91, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116049, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 7, 2011); United States v. Goodwin, No. 3:15-CR-101-DJH, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142930, at *5-6 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 21, 2015); United States v. Watkins, No. 13-02-KSF, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22123 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 19, 2013). Furthermore, this Court has declined to hold new hearings when the moving party asked for revocation based on the same evidence presented to the magistrate judge. Loveland, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116049, at *2-3; Goodwin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142930, at *5-6.

         In ruling on Gwathney-Law's motion, the Court must determine whether a “condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of [Gwathney-Law] as required and the safety of any other person and the community.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1). If not, the Court must uphold his detention. See id.

         Since there is probable cause to believe Gwathney-Law committed an offense under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)[1], there is a rebuttable presumption “that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of [Gwathney-Law] as required and the safety of the community.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(B). “The presumption of § 3142(e)(3) imposes only a burden of production on the defendant, requiring the defendant to come forward with evidence that he poses no danger to the community or is a risk of flight.” Loveland, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116049, at *3. If Gwathney-Law overcomes this presumption, the United States must prove by clear and convincing evidence that no conditions will reasonably assure Gwathney-Law's appearance or the safety of the community. The Court considers several factors in deciding whether to order detention. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g)(1)-(4).

         III. DISCUSSION

         There is no need for a hearing on this motion. Neither Gwathney-Law nor the government has put forth additional evidence or information in support of detention or release. (See Def.'s Mot; Pl.'s Resp.). Accordingly, the Court will rely on the transcript of the proceeding conducted by the Magistrate Judge in reviewing Gwathney-Law's motion.

         After reviewing the transcript, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that Gwathney-Law failed to overcome the presumption in favor of detention provided by 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(B) at the initial detention ...


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