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United States v. Davis

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 1, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MAURICE DAVIS, Defendant-Appellant

Argued May 29, 2014

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 2:11-cr-00063 -- Charles N. Clevert, Jr., Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Erica N. O'Neil, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Milwaukee, WI.

For Maurice Davis, Defendant - Appellant: Peter W. Henderson, Attorney, John C. Taylor, Attorney, Office of The Federal Public Defender, Urbana, IL.

Before BAUER, KANNE, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Kanne, Circuit Judge.

Maurice Davis pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine as part of a written plea agreement with prosecutors. In return, the government agreed to provide

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various sentencing recommendations to the district court. On appeal, Davis claims that the statements made by the government ran counter to the agreed-to recommendations. Davis maintains that this alleged breach allows him to withdraw his guilty plea altogether. However, since Davis received every benefit promised to him in the plea agreement, we see no reason to rescind it. We affirm the decision of the district court.

I. Background

On March 15, 2011, a grand jury indicted Davis, along with five others, for one count of conspiracy to distribute 280 or more grams of crack cocaine between 2008 and 2010, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846. Later that year, the United States Attorney charged Davis in a one-count information for conspiracy to distribute 28 or more grams of crack cocaine between 2008 and 2010, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and 846. That same day, Davis and the government entered into a written agreement, which stated that Davis would plead guilty to the charge set forth in the information and waive prosecution by indictment.

In turn, the government would dismiss the indictment and provide several sentencing recommendations. The government would recommend that: (1) " the relevant conduct attributable to the defendant is at least 196 grams but less than 280 grams of a mixture and substance containing cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance" ; (2) an applicable base offense level of 30; (3) a two-level decrease for acceptance of responsibility along with an additional one-level decrease, if available, for Davis's timely notice of his intention to plead guilty; (4) a sentencing recommendation at the " low end of the applicable sentencing guideline range, as determined by the court." The Presentence Report (" PSR" ), incorporating the government's recommendations, assigned a total offense level of 27 (a base level of 30 minus a three-level decrease) resulting in a sentencing range of 130-162 months.

Davis's efforts to withdraw his guilty plea began in early 2012, but was complicated by various changes in his representation. In February, his initial counsel sought to withdraw and was replaced. In August, Davis's new counsel also moved to withdraw from representation but was denied by the district court. In September, Davis and his new counsel filed separate motions to withdraw his guilty plea. The court then allowed Davis, upon his own motion, to proceed pro se; his attorney then served as his standby counsel. In an evidentiary hearing, Davis contended that he was not fully informed when he pled guilty and that there was enough evidence to prove his innocence. The district court granted Davis's request to proceed pro se but denied all motions to withdraw his guilty plea. Sentencing commenced that same day.

At sentencing, Davis continued to deny all offense conduct attributed to him by the PSR and disputed its proposed sentencing guideline range. In response, prosecutors alleged that Davis's objection ran afoul of what he stated in his earlier proffer agreement. And according to the plea agreement, " [i]f the defendant and his attorney have signed a proffer letter in connection with this case, then the defendant further ...


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