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United States v. Brown

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

July 18, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
LORENZO CORTEZ BROWN, Defendant.

          CRENSHAW CHIEF JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM

          JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is pending before the court on the United States' motion for detention of Defendant Lorenzo Cortez Brown pending trial. Doc. Nos. 26, 65, 91. A hearing was held on July 17, 2017, at which the court heard testimony and the parties' arguments. The court also considered the report of the Office of Probation and Pretrial Services, which recommends that the Defendant be detained.

         For the following reasons and those stated on the record in the court's July 17, 2017 hearing, the United States' motion for detention is DENIED.

         I. Standard of Review

         A defendant may be detained pending trial only upon the court's finding that "no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1). The court's finding that no combination of conditions will reasonably assure the community's safety must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(B). A finding of risk of flight must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence. United States v. Hinton, 113 F.App'x 76, 77 (6th Cir. 2004). "The default position of the law ... is that a defendant should be released pending trial." United States v. Stone, 608 F.3d 939, 945 (6th Cir. 2010); see also United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755 (1987) ("In our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception.")

         In determining whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the defendant's appearance and the safety of any other person and the community, the court must consider: (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged; (2) the weight of the evidence against the person; (3) the history and characteristics of the person; and (4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person's release. 18U.S.C. § 3142(g).

         The Act's default rule of release pending trial is reversed, and detention is presumed, for certain defendants accused of certain offenses. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3) it "shall be presumed that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of the community" in certain situations. This imposes a burden of production on the defendant to offer at least some evidence he is not a flight risk or danger to the community. Even then, the court must still give some weight to the presumption.

         II. Findings of Fact

         The United States relied on the presumption, its memorandum in support of detention with exhibits and the information contained in the pretrial services report in support of its motion. The report states that Brown has spent his whole life in Middle Tennessee. He lives with his wife and children in Murfreesboro and has lived at the same residence for approximately five years. The criminal history provided shows that Brown was arrested a number of times dating back to the age of sixteen in 2002. His most recent conviction was on May 13, 2016 at which time he was sentenced for several offenses that occurred from November 22, 2013 until March 27, 2015, the most serious of which was Conspiracy to Distribute 300 grams or more of a Schedule II Drug, Cocaine for which he received an eight year sentence of probation.

         Mr. Brown called his wife, Latasha Brown to testify. She testified about his ties to the community, support of family and others, employment and character. According to Mrs. Brown, Brown attends Mt. Zion Baptist church, is an assistant coach for his children's sports teams and is a hard worker who supports his family.

         Mr. Brown also called Ron Akins, his employer with Fish House in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Mr. Brown has worked there for over a year. Mr. Akins testified that Brown is an excellent employee who has never missed a day he was scheduled to work. The Fish House is a second chance employer that believes an employee's current actions are more significant than their past record. Mr. Akins is aware of Brown's prior felony record and has no evidence of any illegal conduct by Brown during his current employment. Mr. Akins testified that he has a position waiting on Brown upon his release regardless of when that happens.

         Finally, Brown called his uncle, Kenneth Brown to testify about his prior domestic violence convictions and that he is not a generally violent or dangerous person.

         III. ...


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