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United States v. Morrow

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

December 11, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RONNIE LYNARD MORROW, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Ronnie L. Morrow's violation of supervised release. These are Mr. Morrow's fourth revocation proceedings. Mr. Morrow has been charged with two violations of the condition that he not commit another federal, state, or local crime in connection with two separate arrests for driving under the influence. [R. 77[1].] United States Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram issued a Recommended Disposition in response to Mr. Morrow's violations. Id. Judge Ingram recommended incarceration for a period of twenty-four months with no supervised release to follow. Id.

         I

         A

         Judge Ingram's Recommended Disposition accurately sets forth a more detailed account of the factual and procedural background of the case. Except for what the Court summarizes in its discussion below, the Court incorporates his discussion of the record and the standard of review into this Order.

         On March 15, 2018, Danville, Kentucky police officers were dispatched to a non-injury collision. [R. 57.] In attempting to make a left turn, Mr. Morrow struck a vehicle going the opposite direction head-on. Id. Responding officers observed Mr. Morrow at the scene of the accident, “unsteady on his feet, [with] glassy red eyes” and noted that Mr. Morrow admitted to taking a male enhancement pill that day. Id. Field sobriety tests indicated that Mr. Morrow was impaired. Id. Mr. Morrow was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in violation of KRS § 189A.010(1)(c). Id. A subsequent blood test came back negative for all tested-for substances.

         Days later, on March 20, 2018, Mr. Morrow was involved in a second collision. This collision was a one-car accident in which Mr. Morrow's vehicle struck a building. Id. The arresting officer observed Mr. Morrow had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet. Id. Again, Mr. Morrow was arrested for driving under the influence, and again, a subsequent blood test came back negative for all tested-for substances. Id. State charges in both matters have been dismissed. Id.

         The government argues that Mr. Morrow violated KRS § 189A.010(1)(c) on both March 15 and March 20, 2018. In light of the negative drug tests and dismissed state charges, defense counsel objected to the Magistrate Judge's findings of guilt on the violations, on the grounds that the evidence was insufficient to find the violations by a preponderance of the evidence. As an alternative explanation for his apparently impaired state, Mr. Morrow presented testimony at his allocution hearing that he suffers from low blood pressure, which caused him to suffer from confusion, dizziness, and blackouts on both occasions. [R. 193.]

         B

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(2), a petitioner has fourteen days after service to register any objections to the R&R or else waive his rights to appeal. In order to receive de novo review by this Court, any objection to the recommended disposition must be specific. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). A specific objection “explain[s] and cite[s] specific portions of the report which [counsel] deem[s] problematic.” Robert v. Tesson, 507 F.3d. 981, 994 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Smith v. Chater, 121 F.3d 709, 1997 WL 415309, at *2 (6th Cir. 1997) (unpublished opinion)). A general objection that fails to identify specific factual or legal issues from the Recommendation, however, is not permitted, since it duplicates the magistrate's efforts and wastes judicial economy. Howard v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).

         Mr. Morrow moved this Court for an extension of time in which to file objections, which was granted. [R. 78; R. 79.] Mr. Morrow next made a timely objection to the Recommendation. [R. 81.] Mr. Morrow objected to the Magistrate Judge's finding of guilty of both violations as well as the Magistrate Judge's recommendation of imprisonment for twenty-four (24) months and requested an allocution hearing. [R. 81.] An allocution hearing was held pursuant to Defendant's request. [See R. 87.] Mr. Morrow's objections are sufficiently definite to trigger this Court's obligation to conduct a de novo review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c). The Court has satisfied that duty, reviewing the entire record, including the motions, briefing, the parties' arguments, relevant case law and statutory authority, as well as applicable procedural rules. For the following reasons, Defendants' objection will be OVERRULED.

         II

         A

         To revoke a term of supervised release, this Court must find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant violated a condition of his supervised release. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3). The government alleges two violations of KRS § 189A.010. Kentucky Revised Statute § 189A.010 makes it a crime to “operate or be in physical control of a vehicle . . . while under the influence of any other substance or combination of substances which impairs one's driving ability.” KRS § 189A.010. A “substance” is not necessarily drugs, alcohol, or a combination thereof, and may include substances which do not ordinarily impair driving ability, “but because of the amount ingested have in fact impaired your driving ability.” Hayden v. Commonwealth, 766 S.W.2d 956, 967 (Ky. App. 1989). Therefore, a blood test that is negative ...


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