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United States v. De Graaff

March 20, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF,
v.
KATHLEEN T. DE GRAAFF, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martini, U.S.D.J.

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Appellant Pro Se Kathleen T. De Graaff's appeal of her conviction and sentence for assault and disorderly conduct. For the following reasons, Mrs. De Graaff's appeal is denied.

BACKGROUND

Appellee United States of America (the "Government") charged Appellant Pro Se Kathleen T. De Graaff with assault under 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(4) and disorderly conduct under 38 C.F.R. 1.218(b)(11). These charges stem from an altercation between Mrs. De Graaff and a nurse at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital in Lyons, New Jersey (the "VA Hospital"). A non-jury trial on these charges occurred on September 30, 2004 and November 23, 2004 before United States Magistrate Judge Anthony R. Mautone. Judge Mautone found Mrs. De Graaff guilty of both offenses and sentenced her to one year of probation, ordered her to undergo a mental health evaluation, and forbade her from further contact with the nurse.

Mrs. De Graaff now appeals her conviction and sentence. Her appeal focuses mainly on Judge Mautone's conduct during the proceedings below. We will discuss each of Mrs. De Graaff's arguments in turn.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard Of Review

This Court has jurisdiction over an appeal of a magistrate judge's conviction and sentence under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3402 and 3742(h), and we apply the same standard of review over the magistrate's decision that the Court of Appeals would have applied to the decision had this Court rendered it. Fed. R. Crim. P. 58(g)(2)(D). Therefore, we shall review the magistrate judge's legal determinations de novo, see United States v. Ledesma-Cuesta, 347 F.3d 527, 530 (3d Cir. 2003), and will not disturb his factual findings unless clearly erroneous, see United States v. Helbling, 209 F.3d 226, 237 (3d Cir. 2000).

II. Judge Mautone Possessed The Authority To Try Mrs. De Graaff's Case Without Her Consent

Mrs. De Graaff's first argues that Judge Mautone lacked the authority to try her case without her consent. This argument will be denied. The Government charged Mrs. De Graaff with committing two petty offenses: assault and disorderly conduct. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 19; 113(a)(4), 3559(a)(7), 3559(a)(8), 3559(a)(9); 3571(b)(6)-(7); 38 C.F.R. 1.218(b)(11).A magistrate judge may try petty offenses without obtaining a defendant's consent. See 18 U.S.C. § 3401(b); see also 28-658 Moore's Federal Practice -- Criminal Procedure § 658.11[2]; United States v. Park, No. 01-30409, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 4881, at *2 (9th Cir. 2003); United States v. Ruiz-Rodriguez, 277 F.3d 1281, 1286 (11th Cir. 2002); United States v. Rivera-Negron, No. 01-278, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10036 (D.P.R. 2001). Therefore, Judge Mautone possessed the authority to try Mrs. De Graaff's case without her consent.*fn1

II. Mrs. De Graaff Was Not Entitled To A Jury Trial

Mrs. DeGraaff also contends that she was entitled to a jury trial. This is incorrect. Defendants charged with committing petty offenses, in which there are no additional statutory penalties, are not entitled to a jury trial. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 325-26; Blanton v. North Las Vegas, 489 U.S. 538, 543 (1989). Here, both offenses were petty and there were no additional statutory penalties attached. Therefore, Mrs. De Graaff was not entitled to a jury trial.

III. Mrs. De Graaff Cannot Establish Bias By ...


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