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United States v. Huggins

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

July 30, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JENNIFER HUGGINS, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S APPEAL OF DETENTION ORDER

JEFFREY L. VIKEN CHIEF JUDGE.

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the court is the defendant’s appeal of the decision of Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann requiring detention of the defendant pending sentencing. (Docket 29). Ms. Huggins argues exceptional circumstances pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3145 exist to allow her to remain free on bond pending sentencing. Id. The government resists the defendant’s appeal motion. (Docket 30). For the reasons stated below, the defendant’s motion is denied.

DISCUSSION

On July 15, 2015, Ms. Huggins entered into a plea agreement with the government. (Docket 18). The court referred the case to Magistrate Judge Wollmann for receiving a plea and issuing a report and recommendation as provided by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). (Docket 22). On July 23, 2015, Ms. Huggins appeared before Magistrate Judge Wollmann for a change of plea hearing. (Docket 23). Following the hearing, Magistrate Judge Wollmann filed a report and recommendation. (Docket 25). Both the government and Ms. Huggins consented to the plea hearing before the magistrate judge and waived the 14-day time period to file any objections to the report and recommendation. Id. at p. 1.

At the hearing and after having been advised of her constitutional and statutory rights, Ms. Huggins pled guilty to count 2 of the indictment charging possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) and 841(b)(1)(C). Id. at pp. 1-2. The maximum penalties applicable to that offense are: twenty (20) years of incarceration, a $1, 000, 000 fine, or both and a period of supervised release of at least three (3) years up to life. Id.; see also 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C). Magistrate Judge Wollmann recommended Ms. Huggins’ guilty plea to count 2 of the indictment be accepted and the defendant be adjudged guilty of that offense.[1] (Docket 25 at p. 2).

During the July 23 hearing, the magistrate judge heard the parties on the issue of bond pending sentencing. (Docket 23 at p. 1). The government made a motion to have the defendant detained pending sentencing and Ms. Huggins made a motion to permit her to remain on presentence release. Id. The magistrate judge entered an order of detention. (Docket 26). The magistrate judge found Ms. Huggins’ plea to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(C) is an offense which “falls under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(C), as an offense for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed in the Controlled Substances Act.” Id. at p. 2. The magistrate judge found no exceptional circumstances existed which removed Ms. Huggins from the mandatory detention provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2). Id.

Ms. Huggins appeals to the district court asserting she “was able to show exceptional circumstances, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c) warranting her continued release [pending sentencing].” (Docket 29 at p. 1). Ms. Huggins argues a number of factors exist which constitute exceptional circumstances. Id. ¶¶ 1-5. Those factors as enumerated in her appeal motion are:

1. Factually Ms. Huggins’ adjustment to pretrial release was exceptional; she successfully completed treatment, was attending after-care for her meth addiction, was employed fulltime at the Humane Society in Rapid City, she was in the process of regaining custody of her daughter, she was paying child support, her turnaround was exceptional.
2. Legally, Ms. Huggins’ case is exceptional, uncommon, and out of the ordinary; her plea agreement provides she is a minimal participant involved with a very low drug quantity, has a low base offense level, and may move for a downward departure/variance below her guideline level which allows her to make a request for probation.
3. On pre-trial release, Ms. Huggins was able to prove she does not pose a flight risk or pose a danger to herself or the community.
4. The exceptional reasons provision is intended to provide an avenue for discretionary relief and to mitigate the harshness of the laws that have a blanket prohibition of release pending sentencing.
5. Ms. Huggins’ culpability is significantly less than those of the typical offender contemplated by Congress when it created categories of dangerous offenders.

Id. Ms. Huggins attached two support letters confirming her conduct while on pretrial release. ...


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