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United States of America v. William Lonnie Hanshaw

July 26, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
WILLIAM LONNIE HANSHAW, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

Per curiam.

[PUBLISHED]

Submitted: March 12, 2012

Before MELLOY, SMITH and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges

William Lonnie Hanshaw pleaded guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement, to conspiracy to manufacture over 500 grams of methamphetamine mixture and 50 grams of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A). The district court initially sentenced Hanshaw to 240 months' imprisonment. Thereafter,*fn1 the government filed a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b) motion, recommending a ten-percent reduction in Hanshaw's sentence. The district court held a telephonic hearing on the motion in which the government and Hanshaw's counsel-but not Hanshaw-participated. The court followed the government's recommendation and granted a ten-percent reduction in Hanshaw's sentence. Hanshaw appeals, arguing that the government breached the plea agreement by allowing the Rule 35(b) hearing to proceed in his absence and thereby deprived him of his contractual right to "make whatever comment or evidentiary offer [he] deem[s] appropriate at . . . any . . . proceeding . . . related to [his] case." We affirm.

I. Background

Hanshaw pleaded guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement, to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. Based on the amount of methamphetamine involved and Hanshaw's prior drug-felony conviction, Hanshaw faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Hanshaw's plea agreement was silent on Hanshaw's potential cooperation with the government and on any potentially related reduction in his sentence. The only references to future proceedings appeared in ¶¶ 11 and 16 of the plea agreement. Paragraph 11 referred to "other proceeding[s] related to this case," stating:

Evidence at Sentencing. The parties may make whatever comment or evidentiary offer they deem appropriate at the time of the guilty plea, sentencing, or any other proceeding related to this case, provided such offer or comment does not violate any other provision of this Agreement. The parties are also free to provide all relevant information to the U.S. Probation Office for use in preparing a presentence report.

(Emphasis added.)

Paragraph 16 provided that Hanshaw "waives any and all rights to contest his conviction of the subject charge in any post-conviction proceedings," with limited exceptions.

The district court sentenced Hanshaw to 240 months' imprisonment on June 8, 2009. Almost two years later, on April 25, 2011, the government moved to reduce Hanshaw's sentence pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b). The government stated that Hanshaw had "provided substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution of other individuals who have committed criminal offenses." The government "recommend[ed] a sentencing reduction of 10% off the sentence to be imposed by the Court."

The district court conducted a telephonic hearing on the Rule 35(b) motion. Counsel for the government and Hanshaw were present, but Hanshaw was not. At no time did Hanshaw's counsel request Hanshaw's presence or object to proceeding in his absence. During the hearing, the government recommended a ten-percent reduction, noting that Hanshaw's information proved only slightly useful to the government. Hanshaw's counsel asked for a 25-percent reduction in Hanshaw's sentence. According to Hanshaw's counsel, Hanshaw's honest efforts to cooperate warranted a larger reduction in his sentence.

The district court followed the government's recommendation and granted a ten-percent reduction in Hanshaw's sentence after noting that Hanshaw provided minimal assistance to the government because the target of an investigation entered a guilty plea without the government's use of information that Hanshaw supplied. The court ...


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