United States District Court, D. Minnesota
OPINION AND ORDER
C. Tostrud United States District Judge
case presents the question of which statute, and therefore
which standard, applies when a defendant moves to reopen the
detention issue after pleading guilty and seeks release
pending sentencing. Here, Defendant Shawn Kelly Thomason
primarily relies on 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b) as authority for
the Court to review and revoke the Magistrate Judge's
order of detention. But that order for detention pending
trial, entered pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142, was
superseded at the change-of-plea hearing by the Court's
order of detention pending sentencing, entered pursuant to 18
U.S.C. § 3143. The proper basis for the Court to
reconsider its own detention order, if at all, is §
3145(c), not § 3142(f)(2), § 3143, or §
3145(b). Under § 3145(c), Thomason has not
“clearly shown that there are exceptional
reasons” justifying release pending sentencing, so his
motion will be denied.
December 12, 2018, Thomason was charged by complaint with
interstate stalking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261A.
ECF No. 1. At his initial appearance, the Government
requested that he be detained pending trial. ECF No. 4.
Temporary detention was ordered by the presiding magistrate
judge. ECF No. 6.
Judge Steven E. Rau then held a detention hearing on December
20. ECF No. 12. Special Agent Drew Helms testified for the
Government. See Detention Hearing Tr. at 3-48 [ECF
No. 46-2]. Judge Rau noted during the hearing that the
detention issue was a close one. Id. at 59
(“The Court has to admit that I'm quite torn on the
issue of detention.”). On one hand, Thomason had no
criminal history whatsoever, and his stated reasons for
visiting his ex-girlfriend were innocent. Id. But on
the other hand, there was circumstantial evidence of
“something much more nefarious, ” including GPS
tracking devices, guns, a Faraday bag, and Thomason's
written notes of plans. Id. at 59-60.
Judge Rau found probable cause and ordered Thomason detained
pending trial pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2).
See Dec. 26, 2018 Order of Detention at 3 [ECF No.
13]. He found that the evidence proffered at the hearing
established, among other things, that Thomason (1)
“traveled from his home in Hazel Park, Michigan, to
Mankato, Minnesota, to place a GPS location tracker on the
victim's car”; (2) possessed in his vehicle
“Faraday bags designed to block cellular signals, a
loaded handgun, and ammunition, ” items which were
“circumstantial evidence of [his] criminal
intent” and “of concern when considering [his]
dangerousness to the community”; and (3) did not pose a
risk of non-appearance at future proceedings. Id. at
2. Judge Rau determined that no condition or combination of
conditions of release would reasonably assure the safety of
the community. Id. Thomason did not immediately seek
reconsideration by the magistrate judge, nor did he otherwise
appeal to the district court judge.
March 20, 2019, Thomason entered a plea of guilty. ECF No.
42. At that time, the Court did not hear testimony or
argument on the detention issue. The Court remanded Thomason
to the custody of the United States Marshal pursuant to 18
U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2). See id.; see also
Mem. in Opp'n at 12 n.2 [ECF No. 49] (“The parties
agree that interstate stalking is a crime of violence . . .
such that a person convicted of that crime is subject to
mandatory detention under § 3143(a)(2).”).
one month later, on April 25, Thomason filed a “Motion
to Reopen Detention Hearing.” ECF No. 45. Despite his
motion's title, what he appears to seek is a Court order
releasing him pending sentencing. Id. at 1; Mem. in
Supp. at 4-6 [ECF No. 46]. Sentencing is set for July 10,
2019. ECF No. 44.
Thomason's motion to reopen the detention hearing, which
in substance is a motion for release pending sentencing,
requires understanding the interaction of various sections of
the Bail Reform Act. See 18 U.S.C. § 3141
et seq. Thomason identifies various statutory
provisions that may entitle him to the relief he seeks,
arguing that “[g]iven . . . the operative statutory
scheme, there must be room for a district court to decide
that a person such as [himself] should be released pending
sentencing.” Mem. in Supp. at 10. In his motion and
accompanying brief, he expressly identifies § 3143,
§ 3145(b), and § 3145(c) as possible sources of
authority. See Mot. at 1 (primarily invoking §
3145(b) and referencing release pursuant to § 3143);
Mem. in Supp. at 6 (“[A]fter a guilty plea for an
offense qualifying for mandatory detention, the proper
analysis to determine whether a person is to be released
pending sentencing is . . . § 3145(c).”). And the
title of his motion and his brief's references to the
§ 3142(c) factors suggest he might be invoking §
3142(f)(2), which itself expressly provides for reopening
detention hearings. See Mot.; Mem. in Supp. at 4-5.
The Government argues that none of these provisions entitle
Thomason to release pending sentencing. See Mem. in
Opp'n at 10-13.
3142(f)(2) does not provide authority for the Court to reopen
the detention issue. That provision, contained within a
statute titled “Release or detention of a defendant
pending trial, ” does expressly allow for the detention
hearing to be “reopened.” 18 U.S.C. §
3142(f)(2). It states a detention hearing “may be
reopened . . . at any time before trial” if
there is new information that has a material bearing on the
detention issue. Id. (emphasis added). Here,
Thomason's plea of guilty functions as an adjudication of
guilt akin to a jury's finding at trial. Accordingly,
Thomason's post-plea motion to reopen the detention
hearing was not brought “before trial, ” and
therefore cannot be considered under § 3142(f)(2).
See also United States v. Alston, No. 1:13CR431-1,
2014 WL 701518, at *1 (M.D. N.C. Feb. 24, 2014)
(“[B]ecause the defendant has pleaded guilty, he no
longer retains a right to reopen his detention
hearing.”); Fed. R. Crim. P. 46(a)-(c) (stating that
§ 3142, together with § 3144, “govern[s]
pretrial release” but § 3143 “govern[s]
release pending sentencing”).
does anything in § 3143, titled “Release or
detention of a defendant pending sentence or appeal, ”
permit the Court to reconsider its own detention decision.
There is no provision analogous to § 3142(f)(2) for
“reopening” the issue. If anything, § 3143
suggests that the detention decision generally will be made a
single time, either after a guilty verdict or after the Court
accepts the defendant's guilty plea. See 18
U.S.C. § 3143(a)(1)-(2). The only explicit exception to
this seems to be that the Court should revisit the detention
issue if the defendant or the Government “has filed an
appeal or a petition for a writ of certiorari, ” which
is not the case here. 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b)(1)-(2).
§ 3145 gives the Court authority to address the
detention issue is less clear. Section 3145, titled
“Review and appeal of a release or ...