United States District Court, D. Minnesota
PATRICK J. SCHILTZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dontay Reese pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1) and is awaiting
sentencing. After pleading guilty, Reese began representing
himself; the Court appointed Robert Richman, his former
counsel, to serve as standby counsel. Since then, Reese has
filed about 60 motions and letters, including multiple
motions to withdraw his plea and for discovery. Reese also
moved to replace Richman as standby counsel.
Court conducted a hearing on Reese's motion to replace
Richman as standby counsel on June 4, 2019. After concluding
that Reese was making improper demands of Richman, the Court
denied Reese's motion, relieved Richman of his
responsibilities as standby counsel, and gave Reese the
option of proceeding pro se with no standby counsel or once
again being represented by Richman as his appointed
counsel. The Court did not ask Reese to make an
immediate decision, but rather told him that he should
contact the Court if he wanted Richman to be reappointed.
See ECF Nos. 188, 195.
address the logistical difficulties presented by Reese's
request for access to all of the evidentiary materials that
had been produced to his former counsel (some of those
materials are subject to a protective order, see ECF
No. 26), the Court arranged for Reese to have three days at
the courthouse-May 22, 23, and 24-to view the unredacted
materials, see ECF No. 147. Due to an oversight,
Reese was not transported to the courthouse on May 22. He was
likewise not transported to the courthouse on May 23 because
he consumed various non-edible items (apparently including a
pencil and paper), and jail staff determined that it was not
safe for him to travel. He was transported to the courthouse
on May 24 and was given an opportunity to view the
evidentiary materials. He was given a further opportunity to
view the materials on June 4 to substitute for May 22 (the
day on which he was not transported to the courthouse through
no fault of his own). The Court did not offer a make-up day
for May 23, because Reese's own misconduct caused him to
miss that day.
matter is before the Court on multiple new filings from
Reese: (1) various requests for discovery and evidentiary
materials; (2) another motion for new standby counsel and
related motions to postpone sentencing and for a status
conference; (3) another motion to withdraw his plea; (4) a
motion to dismiss; and (5) another request to postpone
sentencing. Moreover, despite having filed two motions to
postpone sentencing, Reese separately complains that this
case is taking too long and contends that he does
not want to delay sentencing. See ECF No.
respect to discovery: Reese's various requests for
discovery and evidentiary materials are denied for the
reasons described in the government's June 24, 2019
memorandum. ECF No. 202. Reese has had ample opportunity to
view all of the unredacted materials that had previously been
produced to his attorneys.
respect to Reese's motion for new standby counsel: Reese
contends that he has now sued Richman for malpractice and
that, as a result, Richman has a conflict of interest and
must be replaced as standby counsel. But the Court cannot
replace Richman as standby counsel because Richman is no
longer serving as standby counsel. As the Court has
repeatedly explained to Reese, he does not have a
constitutional right to standby counsel, and given his
improper behavior toward Richman, the Court will not appoint
another attorney to serve as his standby counsel.
See ECF No. 195. Because the Court is denying
Reese's motion for new standby counsel, his related
motions to postpone sentencing and for a pre-sentencing
status conference to address the issue of counsel [ECF Nos.
208, 210] are also denied.
noted above, the Court has also informed Reese that it will
reappoint Richman as counsel (not standby counsel) if Reese
submits a request in writing clearly stating that (1) he no
longer wishes to represent himself and (2) he wants the Court
to reappoint Richman to represent him. ECF No. 195. To date,
Reese has not made such a request. The Court notes that
Reese cannot disqualify Richman and force the Court to
appoint a different attorney to represent him merely by
bringing a lawsuit against Richman. See Smith v.
Lockhart, 923 F.2d 1314, 1321 n.11 (8th Cir. 1991)
(“A patently frivolous lawsuit brought by a defendant
against his or her counsel may not, alone, constitute cause
for appointment of new counsel. Trial judges must be wary of
defendants who employ complaints about counsel as dilatory
tactics or for some other invidious motive.”). Reese
pulled this stunt once, bringing a frivolous lawsuit against
his former attorney (Matthew Mankey) in an attempt to force
the Court to appoint a new attorney. The Court will not
permit Reese to continue to “fire” his attorneys
by bringing lawsuits against them.
respect to Reese's latest motion to withdraw his plea:
Reese states in his motion that a memorandum will follow, but
the Court has received no such memorandum. Regardless,
Reese's motion is as frivolous as his earlier motions and
raises claims that the Court has already rejected, including
vague claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and a claim
that his guilty plea was not knowing, intelligent, and
voluntary. The Court presided at the hearing at which Reese
pleaded guilty, and then the Court presided at a hearing
regarding (among other issues) the validity of Reese's
plea. The Court has no doubt that Reese's guilty plea was
knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. See ECF No.
also contends that his speedy-trial rights were violated due
to forged documentation, echoing an allegation he made at the
March 27, 2019 Faretta hearing. At that hearing,
Richman explained the circumstances under which Reese's
signature was obtained on a statement of facts in support of
a request for exclusion of time under the Speedy Trial Act.
ECF No. 150 at 26-27; see also ECF No. 88 (statement
of facts). Even in the unlikely event that Reese's
signature on this document was forged by someone at the
Sherburne County Jail, the signature was certainly not forged
by Richman, and thus the forgery would provide no basis to
disqualify Richman or otherwise establish ineffective
Reese does not explain how his speedy-trial rights were
actually violated. Shortly before trial was scheduled to
begin on November 13, 2018, Reese filed a frivolous lawsuit
against his attorney (Mankey) and sought new counsel. After
holding a hearing on November 5, the Court agreed to appoint
new counsel, but warned Reese that the trial would have to be
rescheduled. ECF No. 85 at 35. The Court then appointed
Richman, who promptly moved to continue the trial and exclude
time under the Speedy Trial Act. The Court granted the motion
after finding that the ends of justice served by continuing
the trial date outweighed the interest of the public and the
defendant's right to a speedy trial under 18 U.S.C.
§ 3161(h)(7)(A). See ECF No. 89. As this Court
explained in a similar case:
[The defendant] did not need to sign or consent to
his attorney's motion to exclude time. “[T]he plain
language of section 3161(h)(7)(A) ‘does not require a
defendant's consent to the continuance if the judge
granted such continuance on the basis of his findings that
the ends of justice served by taking such action outweigh the
best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy
trial.'” United States v. Herbst, 666 F.3d
504, 510 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting United States v.
Sobh, 571 F.3d 600, 603 (6th Cir. 2009)); see also
United States v. Jones, 795 F.3d 791, 798 (8th Cir.
2015). [The defendant's] attorney requested a continuance
for legitimate reasons-his client had just announced that he
had changed his mind about pleading guilty-and the Court
granted the continuance to serve the ends of justice. It does
not matter whether [the defendant] affirmatively consented to
the filing of the motion to exclude time.
United States v. Sevilla-Acosta, No. 10-CR-0230(22)
(PJS/FLN), 2016 WL 4179360, at *7 (D. Minn. Aug. 5, 2016). In
short, regardless of the authenticity of the signature on the
statement of facts in support of Richman's motion, the
Court's exclusion of time under the Speedy Trial Act did
not violate any of Reese's rights.
respect to Reese's motion to dismiss: Reese contends,
again, that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and
that his speedy-trial rights were violated. Reese's
complaints about his speedy-trial rights are rather
audacious, given that Reese has done everything within his
power to delay and disrupt these proceedings, including
faking mental illness and refusing to appear at hearings.
Putting that aside, Reese cites no authority for the
proposition that dismissal of the indictment is an
appropriate remedy for ineffective assistance of counsel.
And, as already explained, Reese's speedy-trial rights
have not been violated (and his guilty plea forecloses any
challenge to the indictment on speedy-trial grounds). See
United States v. Taylor, 204 F.3d 828, 829 (8th Cir.
2000) (per curiam). Reese also complains yet again that his
guilty plea was involuntary and ...