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United States v. Miller

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 1, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Michael Loren Miller, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

LAWRENCE O. ANDERSON, District Judge.

Pursuant to a Standing Order of Referral, dated July 9th, 2014, the Honorable Susan R. Bolton, United States District Judge, referred each Petition to Revoke Supervised Release in the above-numbered cases to the undersigned Magistrate Judge to conduct a "hearing and preparation of findings and recommendations... and submit the necessary Report and Recommendation...."[1] Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3401(i) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(3), the parties expressly consented in writing that this Magistrate Judge conduct revocation hearings on the Petitions. (Docs. 41 in CR-11-2263-PHX-SRB (DKD); 65 in CR-99-963-PHX-SRB) See United States v. Colacurcio, 84 F.3d 326, 332 (9th Cir. 1996).

Pursuant to Rule 32.1(b)(2), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure ("Fed.R.Crim.P."), combined revocation hearings were scheduled on July 8, 2014 in open court. Defendant was physically present, and represented by his counsel of record, AFPD Susan E. Anderson. The Government was represented by AUSA Vincent Q. Kirby. United States Probation Officer Elizabeth Kraft was also present. Defendant expressed the desire to waive formal revocation hearings, decline to make any admissions or statements to the Court, and submit the violation questions on the allegations in the Petitions and the Probation Officer's January 21, 2014 Memoranda. The Court advised Defendant of the right to enter denials, the rights he was giving up by not having revocation hearings, and the potential maximum disposition for each supervised release allegation in the Petitions. The Court took the matters under advisement.

I. Revocation of Supervised Release

The standard of proof for revocation of supervised release is governed by statute. Title 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3) provides, in relevant part, that a district court may revoke a term of supervised release "[i]f the court, pursuant to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure applicable to revocation of probation or supervised release, finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant violated a condition of supervised release[.]" See also United States v. Perez, 526 F.3d 543, 547 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing, inter alia, 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3)); United States v. Lomayaoma, 86 F.3d 142, 147 (9th Cir. 1996) ("for purposes of a supervised release revocation hearing, the district court need only conclude that a preponderance of the evidence supports" revocation.). "On a challenge to the sufficiency of evidence supporting a supervised release revocation, the Ninth Circuit asks "whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of a violation by a preponderance of the evidence." United States v. Haile, 527 Fed.Appx. 633, 634 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting United States v. King, 608 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted); United States v. Jeremiah, 493 F.3d 1042, 1045 (9th Cir. 2007)).

The Ninth Circuit has noted that "[p]arole, probation, and supervised release revocation hearings are constitutionally indistinguishable and are analyzed in the same manner." United States v. Hall, 419 F.3d 980, 987 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing United States v. Comito, 177 F.3d 1166, 1170 (9th Cir. 1999) (noting that the Supreme Court and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure have extended the same minimum due process rights to all three types of revocation proceedings)). Although preponderance of the evidence is a "[l]ower standard than the beyond a reasonable doubt' standard required for a criminal conviction, there must still be credible evidence the releasee actually violated the terms of supervised release." Perez, 526 F.3d at 547; see also United States v. Hankerson, 208 Fed.Appx. 810, at *1 (11th Cir. 2006) ("Preponderance of the evidence is not a high standard of proof. It is not, however, a toothless standard either.") (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also United States v. Hilger, 728 F.3d 947, 949-51 (9th Cir. 2013) (explaining why the Government's burden of proof is lower for revocation than a criminal trial).

Revocation proceedings are intended "to be flexible, ' reflecting their difference from a criminal prosecution" and less formal in which the rules of evidence, including those pertaining to hearsay, need not be strictly applied. Id., at 950 (citing Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 489 (1972)); United States v. Francis, 2012 WL 3289833, at *1 (D. Ariz. Aug. 13, 2012) (citing Fed.R.Evid. 1101(d)(3); United States v. Walker, 117 F.3d 417, 421 (9th Cir. 1997); United States v. Doswell, 670 F.3d 526, 530 (4th Cir. 2012)). Nevertheless, the "[a]dmission of hearsay evidence in revocation of supervised release proceedings is governed by the Fifth Amendment right to due process." Perez, 526 F.3d at 548 (citing Hall, 419 F.3d at 985 & n. 4)). "A releasee is guaranteed the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses at a revocation hearing, unless the government shows good cause for not producing the witnesses." Id. (quoting Hall, 419 F.3d at 986) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Fed.R.Crim.P. 32.1(b)(2)(C) (a releasee is entitled to "an opportunity to appear, present evidence, and question any adverse witness unless the court determines that the interest of justice does not require the witness to appear"). In Perez, the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court of Hawaii's finding of a supervised release violation based solely on a positive drug test where the only evidence of the violation was an undisputed diluted urine sample, the Government failed to call the Virginia technician to testify and be cross-examined to determine the reliability of urine test results, and the Government "[f]ailed to use an available substitute for the [technician's] live testimony, such as affidavits, depositions, and documentary evidence.") (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Perez, 526 F.3d at 549.

II. Findings of Fact

The Court finds that Defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to revocation hearings and consented that the revocation issues be submitted to the Court based on the Probation Officer's January 21, 2014 Memoranda in both cases.

A. CR-99-963-PHX-SRB

On January 24, 2014, a third Petition to Revoke Supervised Release was filed under seal, alleging Defendant violated two conditions of his supervised release. (Doc. 56) Specifically, the Petition alleges violations of Standard Condition No. 7: "You shall notify the probation officer at least ten days prior to any change of residence or employment." ( Id. at 1) The second allegation is that Defendant violated Special Condition No. 4: "You shall reside in a residence approved, in advance, by the probation officer. Any changes in the residence must be pre-approved by the probation officer." ( Id. at 2) A violation of either allegation is a Grade C violation pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 7B1.1(a)(3).

According to this Petition, on June 21, 2000, Defendant was convicted of the crime of Aggravated Sexual Abuse, a Class A felony, and committed to the Bureau of Prisons for 87 months, followed by 60 months of supervised release. ( Id. at 1) Defendant's supervised release was revoked on February 10, 2011, and he was sentenced to 9 months in custody and 51 months of supervised release, beginning on November 5, 2013. The Petition indicates Defendant's current term of supervised release expires on February 4, 2018. ( Id. )

B. CR-11-2263-PHX-SRB (DKD)

On January 24, 2014, a first Petition to Revoke Supervised Release was filed in this case under seal, alleging Defendant violated the same two conditions of his supervised release in CR-99-963-PHX-SRB and two additional conditions. (Doc. 32) Additionally, this Petition alleges violations of Special Condition No. 5: "You shall register as a sex offender with all federal, state, tribal or other local laws or as ordered by the Court. Failure to comply with registration laws may result in new criminal charges." ( Id. at 2) The fourth allegation claims Defendant violated Special Condition No. 9: "You shall reside in and abide by the rules of a Residential Re-entry Center, or any other residential based program approved by the supervising probation ...


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