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United States v. Morris

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

June 16, 2015




BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant Steve Morris, III's Motion [43] to revoke the May 21, 2015, Order [35] of United States Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker ordering pretrial detention. This expedited Motion has been fully briefed. Having considered the Motion [43], the record, and relevant legal authorities, the Court finds that Defendant's Motion should be denied. The Magistrate Judge's May 21, 2015, Order [35] is expressly adopted as the finding of this Court.


A. Defendant's Detention Hearing

Defendant Morris was arraigned before the Magistrate Judge on May 21, 2015, pursuant to a 57 count indictment [3] charging him with distributing controlled substances, including oxycodone, benodiazepine, and muscle relaxants, for other than legitimate medical purposes through the Total Health Solutions Clinic in Waveland, Misissippi. See May 21, 2015, Court Transcript ("Transcript") [43-1]. At his arraignment, Defendant waived the reading of the indictment and entered a plea of not guilty. Id. at 4-5.

Immediately thereafter, the Magistrate Judge proceeded with Defendant's Detention Hearing. Id. at 6. The Pretrial Services report was admitted into evidence, and the government proffered the testimony of Agent Altieri, the DEA agent assigned to the case, who was then cross-examined by Defendant's counsel. Ex. G-1, Pretrial Services Report [36]; Transcript [43-1], at 10-14. Defendant was called to testify on his own behalf. Transcript [43-1], at 15-25. Defendant further submitted a letter from Dr. Mark Rubin into evidence. Ex. D-1, [37]. In this letter, Dr. Rubin offers to act as a "third-party custodian" and allow Defendant to work for him at a Pain Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. Id. Both parties agreed that a rebuttable presumption in favor of detention existed in this case. Transcript [43-1], at 28.

After hearing the evidence, the Court found that "Dr. Morris has not rebutted the presumption established by finding that no condition will reasonably assure his appearance.... [T]he Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure his appearance in court." Id. at 29. The Magistrate Judge then entered a Detention Order [35] consistent with those findings.

B. Defendant's Motion to Revoke

On June 8, 2015, Defendant moved the Court to revoke the Magistrate Judge's Detention Order [35], on the grounds that "none of the facts cited by the Magistrate demonstrate future dangerous[ness] or risk of flight." Mot. to Revoke [43], at 5. In particular, Defendant objects to the finding that he is a flight risk, arguing that "[w]ithout a passport[, Defendant] cannot travel out of the country." Id. Defendant also objects to the relevance of his past psychiatric treatment and initial inability to supply a urine sample. Id. Defendant requests to be "released on such conditions as the Court deems appropriate [with] travel restricted to the Southern District of Mississippi, to Arizona for the purpose of earning a living, and to Tampa, Florida where he resides." Id.

In its Response [46] to Defendant's Motion to Revoke, the Government raises several other facts favoring detention (each of which was established through testimony and exhibits at the Detention Hearing), to which Defendant objects in his Reply [47]. Specifically, the Government references Defendant's numerous overseas bank accounts and significant ties overseas, including a wife and child who live in Thailand, his non-compliance with consent decrees with the Mississippi Medical Board, and his out-of-state real estate holdings. Def.'s Reply [47], at 1-2.


A. Standard of Review

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. ยง 3145, the district court having original jurisdiction over an offense shall promptly review any motion for revocation or amendment of a magistrate judge's detention order. United States v. Barker, 876 F.2d 475, 477 (5th Cir. 1989). "When the district court acts on a motion to revoke or amend a magistrate's pretrial detention order, the district court acts de novo and must make an independent determination of the proper pretrial detention or conditions for release." United States v. Rueben, 974 F.2d 580, 585 (5th Cir. 1992). "[T]he district court has the discretion to conduct its de novo review by examining the pleadings and the evidence which was developed before the magistrate judge and then adopting the ...

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