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United States v. Arnold

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

November 4, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ROBERT F. ARNOLD,

          MEMORANDUM

          KEVIN H. SHARP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Robert F. Arnold's “Motion for Review of September 29, 2016 Detention Order” (Docket No. 92), to which the Government has responded in opposition (Docket No. 98) and supplemented that response (Docket No. 100). By way of the Motion, Defendant requests that the Court overrule Magistrate Judge Newbern's determination that “there is no condition or combination of conditions that can ensure the safety of any other person or of the community, particularly in light of Sheriff Arnold's ability to use his office for harassment and intimidation” and that his “lack of candor with Pretrial Services demonstrates he is unlikely to abide by any conditions or combinations of conditions the Court could impose.” (Docket No. 85 at 12).

         On November 2, 2016, the Court held a full-day hearing on Defendant's Motion and received further evidence. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Defendant's request that he be released pending trial.[1]

         I.

         When a defendant is detained by order of a Magistrate Judge, the defendant “may file with the court having original jurisdiction over the offense, a motion for revocation or amendment of the order.” 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b). “Review of the Magistrate Judge's decision is de novo, ‘although the district court may conduct its review and base its decision on the evidence presented to the magistrate at the detention hearing.'” United States v. Massey, 2014 WL 3671885, at *1 (M.D. Tenn. July 23, 2014) (citation omitted).

         Here, the Court has read the transcript of the hearing before the Magistrate Judge and reviewed the evidence admitted during those proceedings. The Court has also considered the evidence adduced at the November 2, 2016 hearing, including Defendant's testimony and the recordings of phone calls from the Grayson County Detention Center where he is housed.

         II.

         After being indicted and arrested on fourteen assorted federal crimes[2] arising out of the sale of e-cigarettes to inmates at the Rutherford County Jail through JailCigs, Defendant was released pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142. That release was subject to certain conditions, the first of which was that he “not violate federal, state or local law while on release.” (Docket No. 10 at 1). On September 26, 2016, the Government filed a Motion to Revoke Pretrial Release (Docket No. 85), alleging that Defendant committed domestic violence and then coerced the victim to lie about the events.

         A.

         A violation of any condition of pretrial release is governed by 18 U.S.C. § 3148, which provides that “[a] person who has been released under section 3142 of this title, and who has violated a condition of his release, is subject to a revocation of release, an order of detention, and a prosecution for contempt of court.” 18 U.S.C. § 3148(a). The statute goes on to provide:

The judicial officer shall enter an order of revocation and detention if, after a hearing, the judicial officer
(1) finds that there is -
(A) probable cause to believe that the person has committed a Federal, State, or local crime while on release[3] . . .
(2) finds that -
(A) based on the factors set forth in section 3142(g) of this title, there is no condition or combination of conditions of release that will assure that the person will not flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community; or
(B) the person is unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions.

18 U.S.C. § 3148(b). The statute also contains a presumption: “If there is probable cause to believe that, while on release, the person committed a Federal, State, or local felony, a rebuttable presumption arises that no condition or combination of conditions will assure that the person will not pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community.” Id.

         B.

         ‘[T]he analytical process under 18 U.S.C. 3148 is plain, ” United States v. Jones, 2009 WL 1360672, at *2 (E.D. Ky. May 12, 2009), and Magistrate Judge Newbern correctly followed that process. She made three overriding findings, which the Court highlights in order to place Defendant's new arguments in context.[4]

         First, Magistrate Judge Newbern found probable cause to believe that Defendant committed domestic assault this past Labor Day, September 5, 2016, in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-111. That finding is supported by the testimony of Special Agent James Scarbro of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”) who oversaw the investigation regarding alleged domestic assault by Defendant, and who submitted a written statement from then-Special Agent Brian Harbaugh. In that statement, Ms. Arnold claimed that she was physically assaulted by her husband and described in detail the nature of the assault.[5]

         The finding of probable cause is also supported by a recorded conversation between Mrs. Arnold and Elijah Stuard in which she stated that, during the course of an argument, Defendant “shoved [her] down” and “pushed [her] over to the closet.” (Docket No. 96, Hrg. Trans. Vol 1 at 38-39). She also stated that she was “scare[d], ” “freaking out, ” and “started shaking” when Defendant climbed on top of her on the bed. (Id. at 43).

         Even in an affidavit submitted on behalf of Defendant in anticipation of the hearing before the Magistrate Judge, Mrs. Arnold stated that, during the course of the “argument, ” they “had some physical interaction during which each of us was aggressive towards the other.” (Megan Arnold 9/23/2016 Aff. ¶ 6). She also stated that, at some ...


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