United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Curtis Jones, III was indicted on January 13, 2016, on one
count of knowingly possessing a firearm having previously
been convicted of a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). After his arrest, he had a detention hearing on
January 28, 2016 before the magistrate judge. After hearing
proffers and arguments from the parties, the magistrate judge
found that no condition or combination of conditions would
reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as
required, so he ordered Mr. Jones detained pending trial. [DE
25]. Mr. Jones has now moved for review of his pretrial
detention [DE 29], and the government has responded. [DE 34].
The Court finds that no condition or combination of
conditions will reasonably assure the safety of the
community, so it denies Mr. Jones' motion and orders Mr.
Jones detained pending trial.
U.S.C. § 3145(b) permits a defendant to file a motion
seeking review or revocation of a detention order when the
defendant has been ordered detained by a magistrate judge.
The standard of review for this Court's review of a
magistrate judge's detention order is de
novo.United States v. Portes, 786 F.2d
758 (7th Cir. 1985) (affirming the district court judge's
de novo review of the magistrate judge's detention
determination); United States v. Levine, 770 F.Supp.
460, 465 (N.D. Ind. 1991). The Bail Reform Act limits the
circumstances under which a district court may order pretrial
detention. As an initial matter, the Court must determine
whether release of a defendant on personal recognizance or an
unsecured bond would either not reasonably assure the
appearance of the person as required or endanger the safety
of any other person or the community. 18 U.S.C. §
3142(b). If such a release would not reasonably assure the
Defendant's appearance or the safety of the community,
then the Court must consider whether there is some condition
or combination of conditions that would so assure the Court.
18 U.S.C. § 3142(c). “Pretrial detention is
allowed only after the court holds a hearing and finds that
‘no condition or combination of conditions will
reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required
and the safety of any other person and the
community.'” Miller v. Hastings, 87
F.App'x 585, 586 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing 18 U.S.C. §
the offense with which Mr. Jones is charged involves the
possession of a firearm, consistent with 18 U.S.C. §
3142(f)(1)(E), detention can be ordered for either a risk of
flight or a risk of danger to the community. The government
bears the burden of proving either ground for detention.
Portes, 786 F.2d at 764-65. With respect to risk of
flight, the United States bears the burden of proof by a
preponderance of the evidence. Id. at 765. With
respect to risk of danger, the United States must prove its
allegations by clear and convincing evidence. 18 U.S.C.
§ 3142(f); United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S.
739 (1987). Detention may be based on a showing of either
dangerousness or risk of flight; proof of both is not
required. Portes, 786 F.2d at 765; Daniels,
772 F.2d at 383. The factors to be considered by the Court in
determining whether there are conditions that will reasonably
assure the appearance of the defendant and the safety of any
other person and the community include: (1) the nature and
circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the
offense is a crime of violence or involves a minor victim,
controlled substance, or firearm; (2) the weight of the
evidence against the defendant; (3) the defendant's
history and characteristics, including (A) his character,
physical and mental condition, family ties, employment,
financial resources, length of residence in the community,
community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or
alcohol abuse, criminal history, and record concerning
appearance at court proceedings; and (B) whether, at the time
of the current offense of arrest, the defendant was on
probation, on parole, or on other release pending trial,
sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for another
offense; and (4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to
any person or the community that would be posed by the
defendant's release. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).
those factors here, the Court finds that there is no
condition or combination of conditions that would reasonably
assure the safety of the community if Mr. Jones were to be
released. Mr. Jones is charged in this case with possessing a
firearm as a felon, meaning this offense involved a firearm.
According to the government's proffer (which the
defendant does not contest), the firearm was also stolen at
the time Mr. Jones possessed it. Further, the
government's case appears quite strong, as the firearm
was found in Mr. Jones' home, and Mr. Jones admitted to
officers that he purchased and possessed the firearm. Again,
the defendant does not contest that proffer, and in fact
noted at the hearing before the magistrate judge that Mr.
Jones immediately spoke with the police when confronted and
gave a complete statement that was corroborated by officers.
Thus, the first two factors weigh in favor of detention,
given that the charged offense involved a firearm and the
defendant has given a statement admitting facts that would
establish his guilt.
Jones' history and characteristics also weigh heavily in
favor of detention. As reflected in the Pretrial Services
Report, Mr. Jones has a previous federal conviction for
conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the
commission of murder-for-hire, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1958, which is a very serious offense. According to
the Pretrial Services Report, Mr. Jones had agreed to assist
in the murder of two individuals. Moreover, Mr. Jones
committed that offense while awaiting trial on two separate
cases in state court: one for attempted murder of a police
officer arising out of a shooting during which an officer was
wounded, and one for auto theft. Defense counsel argued at
the hearing before the magistrate judge that the state
attempted-murder charges were for the same offense as the
subsequent federal charges, but the record contradicts that
assertion. The Pretrial Services Report states that the
attempted-murder charges in state court arose out of a
shooting that occurred on October 13, 1998, while the federal
murder-for-hire conspiracy charge occurred in January 2001.
Moreover, the opinion by the Court of Appeals affirming the
conviction of one of Mr. Jones' co-defendants in the
federal case makes clear that the federal offense did not
relate to an attempted murder of a police officer and did not
begin until 1999 at the earliest. United States v.
Richeson, 338 F.3d 653 (7th Cir. 2003). Moreover, that
opinion shows that the murder-for-hire conspiracy began while
Mr. Jones was detained, and continued after he made bond and
was released pending trial on those charges. Thus, the fact
that Mr. Jones would commit such a serious federal offense
while facing similarly serious charges in state court weighs
heavily in favor of risk of danger.
that conduct occurred over fifteen years ago. However, Mr.
Jones was incarcerated for seven of those years pursuant to
his federal conviction. And more recently, Mr. Jones
committed multiple violations of the conditions of his
supervised release, including by failing to obtain
employment, failing to notify Probation of a change in
residence, testing positive multiple times for use of
controlled substance,  associating with a person engaged in
criminal activity, and failing to participate in drug testing
and drug treatment. Those violations led to a revocation of
Mr. Jones' supervised release in 2011, for which he was
sentenced to three additional months of
imprisonment. The Court also acknowledges that Mr. Jones
is a life-long resident of Lake County, Indiana, that he is
in a long-term relationship, and that he has a job available
to him should he be released. However, in light of Mr.
Jones' criminal history, including the seriousness of his
prior conviction, his commission of that offense while on
pretrial release in another matter, and his violation of the
conditions of post-release supervision, the Court finds that
this factor weighs heavily in favor of detention.
Court also finds that the last factor, the nature and
seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that
would be posed by the defendant's release, weighs in
favor of detention. Mr. Jones has admitted to unlawfully
possessing a stolen firearm as a convicted felon. Those
circumstances present a greater than usual risk that the
firearm would be used for unlawful purposes, which would
expose the community to a danger of violence. The seriousness
of Mr. Jones' prior conviction further heightens that
potential for violence. Though the firearm underlying the
present charges has presumably been seized, Mr. Jones'
acquisition of that firearm shows that he is willing and able
to unlawfully acquire firearms, which gives rise to the
potential danger to the community.
summary, Mr. Jones has a conviction for a murder-for-hire
conspiracy; he committed that offense while facing attempted
murder charges in state court; and after his release from
imprisonment, he violated the terms of his supervision in
multiple respects, leading to further imprisonment. That
conduct gives the Court little reason to believe that any
conditions of pre-trial release can mitigate any danger Mr.
Jones poses to the community. Further, Mr. Jones has admitted
to unlawfully possessing a stolen firearm, meaning he still
poses a risk of danger to the community and likely faces a
term of imprisonment in this matter. Accordingly, the Court
finds by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or
combination of conditions would reasonably assure the safety
of the community if Mr. Jones were to be released pending
trial in this matter.
Court must therefore DENY Mr. Jones' motion for review of
the magistrate judge's detention order. [DE 29]. Mr.
Jones shall be detained pending trial.
 A district court may conduct this
review either by considering the hearing held before the
magistrate judge or by holding a new hearing. United
States v. Torres, 929 F.2d 291, 292 (7th Cir. 1991). Mr.
Jones does not request a new hearing, so the Court has
considered the parties' proffers and arguments at the