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United States v. Doggart

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

October 18, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Robert R. Doggart, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: October 4, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee of Chattanooga. No. 1:15-cr-00039-1-Curtis L. Collier, Chief District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Jennifer Niles Coffin, FEDERAL DEFENDER SERVICES OF EASTERN TENNESSEE, INC., Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellant.

          Perry H. Piper, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Jennifer Niles Coffin, FEDERAL DEFENDER SERVICES OF EASTERN TENNESSEE, INC., Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellant.

          Perry H. Piper, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Thomas E. Chandler, Anna M. Baldwin, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Appellee.

          Before: SUTTON, McKEAGUE, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          SUTTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Rare is the defendant who insists that we find him guilty. Rarer still is the defendant who gets his way.

         Robert Doggart is on his way to accomplishing both. After federal agents arrested Doggart for plotting to attack an Islamic community at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, he attempted to plead guilty to making a threat in interstate commerce, a crime carrying a sentence of no more than five years. But the district court found that he had not made a cognizable threat and rejected his plea under Criminal Rule 11. After that and after the government added some charges, a jury convicted Doggart of solicitation to damage religious property and solicitation to commit arson, leaving him with a sentence of almost 20 years. Because the district court wrongly rejected the plea agreement, we reverse its decision to reject the agreement, leave in place for now the later convictions, and remand for it to reconsider the agreement under the correct law.

         I.

         Islamberg is a community of around 40 Muslim families near Hancock, New York. It is a self-organized and self-named community, though not a recognized municipality, that sits on 68 acres privately owned by two residents. Along with its private homes, Islamberg has a few shared buildings, including a mosque. In recent years, inaccurate reporting about ...


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