United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before this court for consideration of the
government's Motion For Upward Departure Pursuant To
U.S. Sentencing Guideline Section 5K2.0 and Downward
Departure Pursuant to U.S. Sentencing Guideline Section
5k1.1 , as well as Defendant Richard Thomas
Scott's Response To Motion For Upward and Downward
Departure Incorporating Motion To Withdraw Guilty Plea Based
Upon Breach of Plea Agreement By the United States .
After considering the extensive briefing provided by each
party in support of their rather long-titled motions and in
light of relevant statutory and case law, the court is now
prepared to rule.
his indictment, the Defendant, Mr. Scott, entered into a Plea
Agreement (“Agreement”), in which he agreed to
plead guilty to Counts One and Two of the Indictment.
Accordingly, Count One asserted the following charges:
[D]id knowingly and intentionally assault the Randolph,
Mississippi Postmaster Relief, a person having lawful charge,
control, and custody of mail matter and moneys and property
of the United States, with intent to rob, steal, and purloin
such mail matter, moneys, and property, and robbed and
attempted to rob said person […] and, in effecting and
attempting to effect such robbery, did wound the person
having charge, control, and custody of said mail matter,
moneys, and property, and did put such person's life in
jeopardy by the use of a dangerous weapon.
Count Two charged Mr. Scott with:
[D]uring and in relation to a crime of violence, being the
armed robbery and attempted armed robbery of the Randolph,
Mississippi Postmaster Relief […] did knowingly use,
carry and discharge a firearm, in violation of Title 18,
United states Code, Sections 942(c)(1)(A)(iii) and
return for Mr. Scott's cooperation in pleading guilty and
testifying against his former love interest and co-defendant,
Angela Roy (“Roy”), the government agreed to
press no further charges and make “no objection to the
Defendant receiving a reduction for acceptance of
responsibility, provided that the Defendant's conduct
continues to clearly demonstrate acceptance of personal
responsibility for the offense up to the date of
Mr. Scott's testimony against Roy, the government filed a
motion seeking both upward and downward departures from U.S.
Sentencing Guidelines § 2B3.1, which prescribes
penalties for armed robbery. In turn, Mr. Scott submitted a
response opposing the upward departure as a breach of the
Agreement and filed his motion to withdraw his guilty plea
based upon this alleged breach.
Upward Departure From U.S.S.G. § 2B3.1
party alleging a plea agreement breach bears “the
burden of proving underlying facts establishing a breach by a
preponderance of the evidence.” U.S. v.
Gonzalez, 309 F.3d 882, 886 (5th Cir. 2002). In U.S.
v. Valencia, the Fifth Circuit unambiguously discussed
the use and concurrent obligations of plea agreements, by
[I]f a guilty plea is entered as part of a plea agreement,
the government must strictly adhere to the terms and
conditions of its promises. Furthermore, when a guilty plea
“rests in any significant degree on a promise or
agreement of the prosecutor, so that it can be said to be
part of the inducement or consideration, such promise must be
fulfilled. In determining whether the terms of a plea
agreement have been violated, the court must determine
whether the government's conduct is consistent with the
defendant's reasonable understanding of the agreement.
U.S. v. Valencia, 985 F.2d 758, 760-761 (5th Cir.
in determining whether the terms of the Agreement at issue
are violated by an upward departure from sentencing
guidelines, it is necessary to consider whether the
government's conduct is consistent with the
Defendant's reasonable understanding of the Agreement
when it was made. United ...