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United States v. Flowers

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 11, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DARIUS D. FLOWERS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Flowers is charged with one count of Possession of Contraband by a Federal Inmate (Doc. 1). On December 21, 2016, Flowers filed a Motion in Support of a Nolo Contendere Plea (Doc. 18). Flowers seeks a nolo contendere plea on the basis of efficiency because it would permit the case to be concluded without a trial (Id.). On January 3, 2017, the Government filed a Response opposing the motion, arguing that Flowers has failed to show that there is anything unusual or extraordinary about this case that warrants such a plea, or that he would suffer prejudice if he is not allowed to enter such a plea (Doc. 20).

         A plea of nolo contendere is “a plea by which a defendant does not expressly admit his guilt, but nonetheless waives his right to a trial and authorizes the court for purposes of the case to treat him as if he were guilty.” United States v. Gratton, 525 F.2d 1161, 1163 (7th Cir. 1975) (quoting North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 35 (1970)). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(a)(3), a defendant may plead nolo contendere only with consent of the Court. Such a plea shall be accepted by the Court only after consideration of “the parties' views and the public interest in the effective administration of justice.” Fed. R. Crim P. 11(a)(3). A plea of nolo contendere “admit[s] every essential element of the offense that is well pleaded in the charge” and thus “is tantamount to an admission of guilt for the purpose of the case.” Lott v. United States, 367 U.S. 421, 426 (1961) (internal quotations omitted). In practice, pleas of nolo contendere “are rarely accepted without the approval of the Government after compromise negotiations with the Government.” Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Co., 323 F.2d 412, 415 (7th Cir. 1963). The decision to accept or reject a defendant's plea of nolo contendere is entirely within the district court's discretion. United States v. Bolinger, No. 1:12-cr-00102-TWP-DML-10, 2013 WL 4736234, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 3, 2013) (citing Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 261 (1971)).

         Flowers argues that he should be allowed to plead nolo contendere because it will administer justice more efficiently because it will save the Court, the parties, and the jury the time and resources of a trial. The Court finds this reason alone to be insufficient. Because the Indictment only alleges one count of Possession of Contraband by a Federal Inmate against Flowers, it is unlikely that such a trial would be excessively lengthy, complex, or expensive. Other than the pragmatic consideration of avoiding a trial, Flowers has failed to show any persuasive or exceptional reason why a nolo contendere plea should be allowed. Additionally, as the Government points out, Flowers has not demonstrated any prejudice that would result if he is not allowed to enter into such a plea. The Court finds that “the interest of the public in the effective administration of justice” would not be served by allowing Flowers to plead nolo contendere.

         Accordingly, the Court DENIES the Motion in Support of a Nolo ...


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