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United States v. White

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

April 29, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
IRVEN L. WHITE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM, REPORT, AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE [1]

          John M. Bodenhausen United States Magistrate Judge

         Currently before the Court is Defendant Irven White's Motion to Dismiss Count One. (ECF No. 51) The government opposes White's motion. (ECF No. 52)

         RELEVANT PRODECURAL BACKGROUND AND FINDINGS OF FACT

         White was previously convicted in this District for the offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm. (See Cause No. 4:09 CR 816 HEA) At some point, the Bureau of Prisons placed White at Dismas House, a Residential Reentry Center (“RRC”) in this District. According to the government, on or about December 6, 2017, White escaped from custody at Dismas House. On August 23, 2018, the Grand Jury returned a one-count Indictment charging White with knowingly escaping from Dismas House, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751(a). In relevant part, the Indictment reads as follows:

On or about December 6, 2017, within the Eastern District of Missouri,
IRVEN L. WHITE,
the Defendant herein, did knowingly escape from Dismas House, a facility to which he was lawfully confined by the direction of the Attorney General of the United States by virtue of a judgment and commitment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri upon the felony conviction in Cause No. 4:09 CR 816 HEA, for the offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

(ECF No. 1)

         White was arrested and had his initial appearance in this matter on August 24, 2018. The Court appointed the Federal Public Defender to represent White. The government moved for pretrial detention and a hearing was held on August 28, 2018. An order of detention was also entered on August 28, 2018. White had his arraignment before the undersigned on August 30, 2018. At his arraignment, the Court set a schedule for filing pretrial motions. Before the deadline for filing motions passed, White mailed a pro se letter to the Court which was received and filed under seal on October 9, 2018. (ECF No. 21) In his letter, White made numerous statements relevant to the charges and indicating a belief that, given his circumstances, he would only receive an incident report/violation for absconding or escaping from Dismas House. White emphasized that he eventually returned to Dismas House. White also referenced his mental health status in the letter. Thereafter, White submitted another pro se letter to the Court which was filed on October 12, 2018. (ECF No. 20)

         On October 17, 2018, upon the request of White's attorney, the Court extended the deadline for filing pretrial motions until early December 2018. On October 22, 2018, the Court received and filed a pro se motion from White in which he asked the Court to remove the Assistant Federal Public Defender assigned to his case. On October 25, 2018, the undersigned held a hearing on White's pro se motion to remove his attorney. The undersigned allowed the Assistant Federal Public Defender to withdraw and appointed Nicholas Williams, a member of the Court's CJA criminal defense panel. The prior schedule for hearing pretrial motions was vacated and new deadlines were set.

         On November 5, 2018, the Court received and filed another pro se letter from White. (ECF No. 31) This letter notified the Court that White had directed Mr. Williams to file a motion for dismissal based on insufficient evidence and erroneous charges. On November 9, 2018, the Court received and filed a pro se motion from White seeking dismissal of the Indictment. (ECF No. 32) On November 13, 2018, the undersigned denied White's pro se motion to dismiss without prejudice. (ECF No. 33) On November 16, 2018, Mr. Williams filed a motion seeking a psychiatric evaluation of White, which the Court granted on November 19, 2018. (ECF Nos. 34, 35)

         During the course of his evaluation and before the Court could determine any issues concerning competency, White continued to send pro se letters and motions to the Court. (See ECF Nos. 38, 46) White challenged the indictment, asked to terminate the evaluation, and raised concerns regarding Mr. Williams' representation. On March 27, 2019, Mr. Williams filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for White. (ECF No. 47)

         On March 28, 2019, the Court held a hearing to address the issues of White's competency to proceed and the status of Mr. Williams' continued representation of White in this matter. White was found competent to proceed. (ECF No. 49) After hearing from White, Mr. Williams, and AUSA Thomas Mehan, the undersigned concluded that White had not demonstrated any justifiable dissatisfaction with Mr. Williams' performance. Rather, based on the record before the Court, including the record made at the March 28th hearing, there was no presently known reason or circumstance to suggest any deficiency concerning Mr. Williams' representation. Similarly, while Mr. Williams and White may disagree on certain matters, there is no apparent conflict or potential conflict of interest.

         Mr. Williams agreed that he would make continued efforts to work with White. White, however, expressed some desire to forego counsel and proceed pro se. The undersigned conducted an extensive inquiry, pursuant to Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975). At the end of that inquiry, the undersigned concluded that White did not actually want to represent himself, but rather wanted someone to raise his legal challenge to the Indictment. Having heard from both White and Mr. Williams, the undersigned determined that White's fundamental issue with his representation was that his attorneys had not filed any motion to dismiss the Indictment, but his attorneys did not believe White's arguments were legally sufficient. Accordingly, the undersigned concluded, and White agreed, that Mr. Williams ...


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