United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
SCHNEIDER United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on defendant's “Motion
to Modify Conditions of Release.” [Doc. No. 40]. The
Court received the government's opposition [Doc. No. 41]
and held a hearing and oral argument on April 5, 2017. The
issue to be addressed is whether this defendant who is
awaiting sentencing on June 16, 2017, after pleading guilty
to two felony charges, and who is currently housed at a
reentry facility in Newark, New Jersey, may be released on
bail to work outside the facility. For the reasons to be
discussed defendant's motion is GRANTED.
was arrested on August 5, 2016, by the Camden City Police. On
September 9, 2016, a federal complaint was filed [Doc. No. 1]
and defendant was taken into federal custody. Thereafter,
defendant moved for release from custody. [Doc. No. 12]. The
government moved for detention and steadfastly objected to
defendant's release. [Doc. No. 14]. Defendant's
motion resulted in substantial background and investigative
work and several bail hearings. On December 21, 2016, the
Court Ordered defendant released on conditions. See
Condition of Release Order [Doc. No. 23]. The unique aspect
of defendant's bail was that he was released to be placed
in a Residential Reentry Program, owned and operated by GEO
Group, Inc., in Newark, New Jersey. To the best of the
Court's knowledge, defendant was the first New Jersey
pre-trial detainee to be placed in this program. He also is
the first GEO placement who pleaded guilty but is awaiting
sentencing. Amongst defendant's 26 conditions of release
was the requirement that he be barred from leaving the
facility except for court and medical purposes to be
expressly approved by U.S. Pretrial Services. Id. at
&4. Due to contractual complications, defendant was not
placed in GEO's facility until on or about January 24,
2017. By all accounts defendant has complied with his
conditions of release and has been an active and willing
participant in GEO's rehabilitation programs.
See Mot. at 5.
March 7, 2017, defendant pleaded guilty to a two-count
information. [Doc. No. 38]. Count One charged defendant with
conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to
distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable
amount of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”), a
Schedule II controlled substance, contrary to 21 U.S.C.
Â§' 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C), in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 846. Count Two charged defendant with possession of a
firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i). Bail was
ordered to remain the same. Defendant's sentencing is
scheduled on June 16, 2017 before the Honorable Jerome B.
Simandle, Chief, U.S. District Judge.
present motion seeks to modify his bail to permit him to work
outside the reentry facility as a part of GEO's
Residential Reentry Program. As presented at the April 5, 2017
hearing, defendant proposes to work at the Regional Garbage
Company in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Mot. at 5. Defendant will
be subject at all times to GPS monitoring. At the April 5
hearing the Court heard from defendant's Case Manager,
Mr. Walton, and GEO's Job Developer, Mr. Dobson. They
both impressed the Court with their knowledge, experience and
professionalism. They both also attested to defendant's
good behavior and opined that defendant was a good candidate
to be released to work.
objects to releasing defendant to work outside the GEO
facility. Two main issues were addressed at the April 5, 2017
hearing. First, whether the Court had the authority to Order
defendant released to work and, if so, the legal standard
that must be met. The second issue addressed was whether
defendant met the standard to be released. Since defendant
has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, the parties
agree these issues involve 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a) and '
3145(c). This Order supplements the Court's April 5, 2017
Oral Opinion granting defendant's motion.
Court holds that it has the discretionary authority to
release defendant if the necessary statutory criteria are
met. As an initial matter, it is apparent that '
3143(a)(2) provides no relief to defendant. Under this
section a prerequisite to releasing defendant is either
“a substantial likelihood that a motion for acquittal
or new trial will be granted, ” or “the
Government has recommended that no sentence of imprisonment
be imposed” on defendant. See 18 U.S.C. §
3143(a)(2). Defendant does not quarrel that neither of these
conditions exist. Therefore, defendant's only hope for
relief is ' 3145(c) which states:
Appeal from a release or detention order. An
appeal from a release or detention order, or from a decision
denying revocation or amendment of such an order, is governed
by the provisions of section 1291 of title 28 and section
3731 of this title. The appeal shall be determined promptly.
A person subject to detention pursuant to section 3143(a)(2)
or (b)(2), and who meets the conditions of release set forth
in section 3143(a)(1) or (b)(1), may be ordered released,
under appropriate conditions, by the judicial officer, if it
is clearly shown that there are exceptional reasons why such
person's detention would not be appropriate.
18 U.S.C. § 3145(c). When read in conjunction with '
3143(a)(1), the language of ' 3145(c) permits a judicial
officer to release defendant upon a showing by clear and
convincing evidence that defendant is not likely to flee or
pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the
community, and that there are exceptional reasons why
detention pending sentencing is inappropriate.
authority under ' 3145(c) is mixed. The majority or
“lopsided” view holds that judicial officers may
release convicted individuals pending sentencing for
“exceptional reasons.” United States v.
Williams, 903 F.Supp.2d 292, 298 (M.D. Pa. 2012). The
minority view holds that the “exceptional
reasons” provision of ' 3145(c) only provides
discretionary authority to release to U.S. Courts of Appeal.
Id. at 296-98. The Third Circuit has not yet
addressed whether a district court can order a convicted
defendant's release for “exceptional reasons”
pursuant to ' 3145(c). Id. at 296. However, the
Court adopts the cogent reasoning in Williams,
supra, and holds it has the authority to release
defendant for “exceptional reasons.”
court in Williams began its analysis by noting that
the Bail Reform Act provides a statutory definition of
“judicial officer” as used in ' 3145(c).
Id. at 298 (“In fact, the Bail Reform Act
defines ‘judicial officer' as ‘unless
otherwise indicated, any person or court authorized ... to
detain or release a person before trial or sentencing or
pending appeal in a court of the United States ....”)
(quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3156(a)(1)). Further, the court
noted that the term “judicial officer” is used
throughout the Bail Reform Act to refer to “judges at
all levels of the judicial system.” Id.
(citing United States v. Price, 618 F.Supp.2d 473,
479 (W.D. N.C. 2008)). When taken in context with ' 3141,
the Williams decision and this Court agree that the
final sentence of ' 3145(c) authorizes district and
appellate courts to release a defendant prior to sentencing
upon a finding of exceptional reasons. Id. at
extent there may be some misunderstanding from the title of
' 3145(c) which states, “Appeal from a release or
detention order, ” Williams reasoned there is
nothing “illogical” about the placement of the
title. Id. (“To the contrary, it simply
reflects the practical necessity of permitting district
courts to undertake the threshold analysis of exceptional
reasons.”). Accordingly, Williams held that
the express language of ' 3145(c) clearly ...