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United States v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 22, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
STANLEY WATSON, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO WITHDRAW PLEA OF GUILTY

SARAH EVANS BARKER, District Judge.

On September 22, 2014, Defendant Stanley Watson filed a Motion to Withdraw Plea of Guilty. [Dkt. No. 1254.] The United States opposed the Motion on October 28, 2014. [Dkt. No. 1341.] The court held a hearing on December 8, 2014, at which Defendant appeared in person. [Dkt. No. 1453.] For the following reasons, we DENY Defendant's Motion to Withdraw Plea of Guilty.

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(d)(2).

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(d)(2) provides that a court may permit a defendant to withdraw his guilty plea before sentence is imposed if the defendant can show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal. Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(d)(2); United States v. Milquette, 214 F.3d 859, 861 (7th Cir. 2000); United States v. Salgado-Ocampo, 159 F.3d 322, 324-25 (7th Cir. 1998). The defendant does not have an unlimited right to withdraw the plea. Milquette, 214 F.3d at 861. We accord the record created by a Rule 11 inquiry a "presumption of verity." United States v. Neely, 189 F.3d 670 (7th Cir. 1999). Consequently, if defendant presents a reason for withdrawing his plea that contradicts the answers he gave at a Rule 11 hearing, he will face an uphill battle to persuade the court that his purported reason for withdrawing his plea is "fair and just." Salgado-Ocampo, 159 F.3d at 325.

Mr. Watson's Rule 11 Hearing.

Mr. Watson was charged with violating 21 U.S.C. ยงยง 841(a)(1) and 843(b) when he allegedly knowingly and intentionally used a communications facility to facilitate the distribution and/or the possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. On July 15, 2014, the court held a plea hearing at which Mr. Watson was present in person. Mr. Watson testified that he is 64 years old, completed twelfth grade, and can read and write the English language. [Dkt. No. 1299 (Transcript of July 15, 2014 Hearing ("Tr.")) 7:11-17.] The court conducted an examination to ensure that Mr. Watson was not under the care of a doctor for any condition that would interfere with his ability to understand or participate in the hearing and that he had not consumed any substance that would interfere with his ability to understand or participate in the hearing. [Tr. 7:19-25, 8:1-6.] Mr. Watson understood the charges against him and waived a formal reading of the counts in the indictment. [Tr. 8:23-25, 9:1-10.] Mr. Watson agreed that he understood the maximum penalties for conviction of the crimes alleged against him. [Tr. 11:12-25, 12:1-11.]

With respect to his plea agreement, Mr. Watson testified that the plea agreement document he signed was the entire agreement as he understood it. [Tr. 16:1-4, 16:18-20.] Mr. Watson agreed that no one persuaded him "against [his] will to enter into this agreement with the Government." [Tr. 16:21-25.] Mr. Watson also agreed that it was his "decision to enter into this plea agreement... a decision [he] made freely and voluntarily after [he] considered the advice of counsel, but otherwise on [his] own." [Tr. 17:1-6.]

Mr. Watson understood that his plea agreement gave up his right to appeal and he was not persuaded against his will to give up that right. [Tr.17:18-23, Tr.18:1-14, Tr. 19:12-20.] Mr. Watson testified that he was "absolutely" satisfied with the representation of his court-appointed counsel and that he told her "everything about [his] involvement in this offense." [Tr. 24:3-8, 25:9-11.] Mr. Watson's counsel represented to the Court that she reviewed the government's evidence as to Mr. Watson and advised him that if this evidence was presented to a reasonable jury, it would support a conviction of Mr. Watson beyond a reasonable doubt. [Tr. 34:22-25, 35:1-8.] Mr. Watson testified:

THE COURT: And Mr. Watson, did you review the summary of the evidence that was presented?
DEFENDANT WATSON: Yes.
THE COURT: Do you have any disagreement or quarrel with those facts that are laid out there?
DEFENDANT WATSON: No.
THE COURT: Did you do what it says you did in ...

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