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United States v. Scott

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

January 4, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RICHARD THOMAS SCOTT

          ORDER

          MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This 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 [78], 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 [79]. 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.

         Factual Background

         Following 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.[1]

         Additionally, 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 2.[2]

         In 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 sentencing.”[3]

         Following 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.

         Standard

         I. Upward Departure From U.S.S.G. § 2B3.1

         The 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 stating:

[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. 1993).

         Therefore, 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 ...


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