United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Williams, Defendant, represented by Charles J. Keefe, Wilson
Bush Durkin & Keefe PC.
Plaintiff, represented by Jennifer C. Davis, U.S.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION TO ACCEPT DEFENDANT'S
K. JOHNSTONE, Magistrate Judge.
8, 2015, a criminal complaint was issued charging Ryan
Williams ("Williams"), the Defendant, with unlawful
possession with the intent to distribute heroin, in violation
of 21 USC Â§ 841(a)(1). Thereafter, on August 26, 2015,
Williams was indicted, inter alia, with Conspiracy to
Distribute 1 Kilogram or More of Heroin, in violation of 21
U.S.C. Â§Â§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A)(i). On July 12, 2016, the
Defendant was charged by Superseding Information with
Conspiracy to Distribute 1 Kilogram or More of Heroin, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A)(i). The
Defendant waived indictment to the Superseding Information.
(Doc. no. 32).
change of plea hearing was held on August 3, 2016. Williams
was present, represented by appointed counsel, Charles J.
Keefe. Defendant was advised of the purpose of the hearing
and placed under oath with instructions that his answers must
be truthful lest he would subject himself to possible charges
of perjury or making a false statement.
Consent to Proceed Before a Magistrate Judge
filed a written consent to have the Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 11 proceedings before the magistrate judge. (Doc.
no. 31). On August 3, 2016, while assisted by counsel, the
Defendant, by consent appeared before me in order to change
his previous not guilty plea, entered on August 31, 2015,
(doc. no. 14) to a plea of guilty as to Count I of the
Superseding Information as agreed to under the terms of his
plea agreement. At the August 3 hearing, the parties
consented to the delegation of the change of plea to the
magistrate judge and the Defendant unequivocally restated his
consent to have the change of plea hearing before this
magistrate judge. United States v. Williams, 23 F.3d
629 (2nd. Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1045 (1994)
(where defendant consented to the magistrate judge taking his
guilty plea to a felony, delegation to the magistrate judge
did not contravene Article III of the Unites States
Proceedings Under Rule 11 of the Federal Rule of Criminal
of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure governs the
acceptance of guilty pleas to federal criminal violations.
Pursuant to Rule 11, in order for a plea of guilty to
constitute a valid waiver of the Defendant's right to
trial, the guilty plea must be knowing and voluntary.
United States v. Hernandez-Wilson, 186 F.3d 1, 5
(1st Cir. 1999). "Rule 11 was intended to ensure that a
defendant who pleads guilty does so with an understanding of
the nature of the charge and consequences of his
plea.'" United States v. Cotal-Crespo, 47
F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 1995) (quoting McCarthy v. United
States, 394 U.S. 459, 467 (1969)). There are three core
concerns in a Rule 11 proceeding: "1) absence of
coercion; 2) understanding of the charges; and 3) knowledge
of the consequences of the guilty plea."
Cotal-Crespo, 47 F.3d at 4 (citing United States
v. Allard, 926 F.2d 1237, 1244 (1st Cir. 1991)).
Competence to Enter a Guilty Plea
magistrate judge questioned the Defendant about his age;
education; literacy; history of any treatment for mental
illness or addiction; and use of any medication, drugs, or
alcohol in order to ascertain his capacity to understand,
answer, and comprehend the change of plea colloquy. The court
confirmed that the Defendant received the Superseding
Information and fully discussed the charge with his attorney
and was satisfied with the advice and representation he
received. The Defendant confirmed that he was satisfied with
the representation and advice given to him by his attorney
and that he had sufficient time to discuss the case and
guilty plea with his counsel before the August 3, 2016
hearing. The court further inquired whether the
Defendant's counsel had any doubt as to his capacity to
plead, to which counsel responded that there was no doubt.
After considering the Defendant's responses and observing
his demeanor, a finding was made that Williams was competent
to plead and fully aware of the purpose of the hearing.
Waiver of Grand Jury Indictment
magistrate judge questioned Williams in detail about his
understanding of the implications of waiving grand jury
indictment. The Defendant expressed his understanding that he
had a constitutional right to be tried on an indictment, of
the composition of the grand jury and the process and
requirements in order for a grand jury to return an
indictment, and that the grand jury, after hearing the
Government's evidence, might or might not indict him.
Williams also expressed his understanding that if he waives
indictment, but then decided not to enter a guilty plea, the
prosecution of the charges in the Superseding Information
would still proceed on the information without presentation
of the evidence to the grand jury. Williams confirmed his
signature on the waiver of indictment document. He also
confirmed that other than the promises and commitments set
forth in the plea agreement, no threats were made against
him, and no promises were made to induce him to waive his
right to an indictment. He also acknowledged that he
discussed waiver of grand jury indictment with his attorney
and confirmed that he understood these rights and the
consequences of his waiver of indictment. The Defendant's
counsel, in ...