United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court on the defendant Kenneth
Gravitt's motion to withdraw his plea of guilty. (DE 24).
This matter has been pending since October 12, 2017. Gravitt
was charged with eight counts of violating laws regulating
the transport, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.
Trial was set to begin May 7, 2018. On the morning of trial,
however, the parties indicated to the Court they had reached
an oral agreement that would resolve the matter without
trial. Pursuant to that agreement, Gravitt pleaded guilty to
only two counts and the Court sent the potential jurors home.
now moves to withdraw his guilty plea. Rule 11 of the Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a defendant may
withdraw a plea after the Court accepts it and before
sentencing if “the defendant can show a fair and just
reason for requesting the withdrawal.” Fed. R. Crim. P.
11(d)(2)(B). The Sixth Circuit has developed a multi-factor
balancing test to guide this inquiry. These factors include,
but are not limited to: (1) the amount of time that elapsed
between the guilty plea and the motion to withdraw it; (2)
whether the defendant has a valid reason for failing to seek
withdrawal earlier; (3) whether the defendant has asserted or
maintained his innocence; (4) the circumstances underlying
the guilty plea; (5) the defendant's personal background;
(6) the defendant's prior experience with the criminal
justice system; and (7) potential prejudice to the government
if the motion to withdraw is granted. United States v.
Haygood, 549 F.3d 1049, 1052 (6th Cir. 2008).
considering these factors, the Court will deny Gravitt's
motion to withdraw his guilty plea. As to the timing of
Gravitt's motion, “courts look with particular
favor on 32(d) motions made within a few days after the
initial pleading.” United States v. Spencer,
836 F.2d 236, 239 (6th Cir. 1987) (quoting United States
v. Roberts, 570 F.2d 999, 1008 (D.C.Cir. 1977). On the
other hand, a lapse of 22 days between the plea and the
motion to withdraw it weighs against granting the motion.
Id. This is because, “[t]he rationale for
allowing a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea is to permit
him to undo a plea that was unknowingly made at the time it
was entered.” Id. (quoting United States
v. Carr, 740 F.2d 339, 345 (5th Cir. 1984)). “The
purpose is not to allow a defendant to make a tactical
decision to enter a plea, wait several weeks, and then obtain
a withdrawal if he believes that he made a bad choice in
pleading guilty.” Id
entered a guilty plea on May 7, 2018, the day trial was set
to begin. His motion to withdraw the plea came 49 days
(7weeks) later. This weighs against granting the motion.
See United States v. Shehee, 986 F.2d 1423 (6th Cir.
1993) (unpublished decision finding that delay of 33 days
between plea and motion to withdraw it supports denial of the
motion); Spencer, 836 F.2d 236, 239 (6th Cir.1987)
(affirming denial of motion to withdraw filed five weeks
after entry of plea).
longer a defendant waits before requesting to withdraw his
guilty plea, the more closely a court will scrutinize the
defendant's reasons for failing to file earlier.
United States v. Triplett, 828 F.2d 1195, 1197 (6th
Cir. 1987). Gravitt has not provided any reason for failing
to move to withdraw his guilty plea earlier. He states in his
affidavit that, soon after he left the courtroom, he realized
he had made a mistake. He provides no reason for waiting
seven weeks to file this motion.
states in an affidavit filed with his motion that he
maintains his innocence. Nevertheless, Gravitt did plead
guilty under oath in this Court to two charges. Further,
while Gravitt has had no known prior interactions with the
criminal justice system, the circumstances underlying his
plea support that he entered into the plea knowingly and
voluntarily. He is represented by capable counsel that he
retained himself. He states in his affidavit that his
attorneys explained to him the ramifications of entering a
rearraignment, the Court conducted the colloquy under Federal
Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 to ensure that the guilty plea
was entered knowingly and voluntarily. As part of the
colloquy, the Court informed Gravitt that he had a right to a
jury trial, including the right to confront witnesses against
him, and also informed him that he waived these rights if he
pleaded guilty to the charge. This Court finds no
circumstances surrounding Gravitt's plea that would
warrant withdrawing it now. He is an educated and
sophisticated businessman. Nothing in his background
indicates that he did not understand what he was doing when
he entered the guilty plea. The Court is satisfied that
Gravitt understood the charge against him and the
consequences of pleading guilty.
any prejudice to the government if the motion is granted,
“the government is not required to establish prejudice
that would result from a plea withdrawal, unless and until
the defendant advances and establishes a fair and just reason
for allowing the withdrawal.” Spencer, 836
F.2d at 240. Because Gravitt has not established a fair and
just reason for allowing him to withdraw his guilty plea, the
Court will not consider whether the government will be
prejudiced by granting the motion.
these reasons, the Court hereby ORDERS that Gravitt's
motion to withdraw ...