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United States v. Madkins

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

August 8, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARTYE MADABUTI MADKINS III, Defendant-Appellant.

         APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS (D.C. NO. 5:13-CR-40060-DDC-6)

          Paige A. Nichols, Assistant Federal Public Defender (Melody Brannon, Federal Public Defender, with her on the briefs), Office of the Kansas Federal Public Defender, Topeka, Kansas, for Appellant.

          James A. Brown, Assistant United States Attorney (Thomas E. Beall, United States Attorney, with him on the brief), Office of the United States Attorney, Topeka, Kansas, for Appellee.

          Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, MATHESON and MORITZ, Circuit Judges.

          TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge.

         I. Introduction

         This appeal arose from a law enforcement investigation into a drug-trafficking operation in the Geary County, Kansas area. Agents gathered evidence by making controlled buys of crack cocaine through a confidential informant; monitoring telephones used by certain of the co-conspirators; and conducting searches of several residences. Martye Madkins was arrested and charged with one count of distribution of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a), and one count of distribution of cocaine base within 1, 000 feet of a school, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 860.

         Before trial, Madkins moved to dismiss the indictment for Speedy Trial Act violations. The district court overruled the motion, finding the court had previously granted an ends-of-justice continuance that tolled the speedy-trial clock. Madkins was tried along with several co-defendants, including Johnny Lee Ivory, Anthony Carlyle Thompson, and Albert Dewayne Banks, who are appellants in related appeals.[1] Madkins and his co-defendants were convicted on all counts.

         Madkins challenges the district court's denial of his motion to dismiss for Speedy Trial Act violations. He also appeals his sentence, arguing the district court erred in applying a career-offender enhancement and in denying his request for a variance. We affirm Madkins's convictions, because the court did not err in denying Madkins's motion to dismiss for Speedy Trial Act violations. The court properly relied on ends-of-justice factors in granting a trial continuance. But we vacate Madkins's sentence and remand for resentencing, because the district court erred in denying Madkins's request for a variance. The court impermissibly relied on a belief that it was obligated to impose a sentence in the guidelines range absent extraordinary circumstances.

         II. Analysis

         We address Madkins's challenges to his convictions and sentence in turn.

         A. Speedy Trial Act Violations

         Madkins first argues the district court violated his right to a speedy trial under the Speedy Trial Act. Specifically, Madkins argues the court erred in a January 6, 2014 order granting a continuance, because it was not a proper ends-of-justice continuance and thus did not toll the speedy-trial clock for the seventy-one days covered by the order. We disagree and conclude the court's ends-of-justice continuance complied with the requirements of the Act.[2]

         We review a district court's decision to grant an ends-of-justice continuance for an abuse of discretion. United States v. Watson, 766 F.3d 1219, 1228 (10th Cir. 2014). But whether the court complied with the Speedy Trial Act's procedures and applied the appropriate legal standards is an issue of law that we review de novo. Id. We review any factual findings for clear error. Id.

         Before we go into detail about those aspects of the district court's rulings Madkins contends are inadequate, we briefly review the applicable speedy-trial principles.

         The Sixth Amendment guarantees an accused's right to a speedy trial in criminal prosecutions. The Speedy Trial Act codifies this right, providing that a defendant's trial "shall commence within seventy days" of the indictment or the defendant's first appearance, "whichever date last occurs." 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). When a defendant demonstrates a violation of the Act, the proper remedy is dismissal of the indictment. See 18 U.S.C. § 3161(a)(2).

         The seventy-day time period may be tolled for certain reasons enumerated in the Act, which include when the district court grants an ends-of-justice continuance. That is, the court may grant a continuance of the trial date when the "ends of justice" support doing so. The Act therefore excludes, in relevant part,

[a]ny period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by any judge . . . 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. No such period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by the court in accordance with this paragraph shall be excludable under this subsection unless the court sets forth, in the record of the case, either orally or in writing, its reasons for finding that the ends of justice served by the granting of such continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.

18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A).

         The Act also explains that in granting an ends-of-justice continuance, the court must consider certain factors, including (1) whether the failure to grant the continuance would "result in a miscarriage of justice, " 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(i); (2) whether due to the nature of the case (or other factors, including the number of defendants) the case is too complex to reasonably expect adequate preparation within the time limits, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(ii); or (3) whether a refusal to continue the case would deny the defendant "reasonable time to obtain counsel" or would unreasonably deny either party "the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, " 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(iv). The court may not, however, grant a continuance "because of general congestion of the court's calendar." 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(C).

         The Supreme Court has interpreted these provisions to mean that "the Act requires express findings, " which must be made on the record. See Zedner v. United States, 547 U.S. 489, 506-07 (2006). Likewise, we have previously instructed, "[w]hen considering such a continuance, the trial court must make explicit findings regarding why granting the continuance will strike a proper balance between the ends of justice and the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial." United States v. Occhipinti, 998 F.2d 791, 797 (10th Cir. 1993). But we have further explained, "[i]n setting forth its findings, however, the district court need not articulate facts 'which are obvious and set forth in the motion for the continuance itself.'" Id. (quoting United States v. Lattany, 982 F.2d 866, 879 (3d Cir. 1992)). And we have clarified that "[i]n determining whether the district court relied on sufficient facts in granting an ends-of-justice continuance, we can look to 'the oral and written statements of both the district court and the moving party.'" United States v. Loughrin, 710 F.3d 1111, 1119 (10th Cir. 2013) (quoting United States v. Toombs, 574 F.3d 1262, 1271 (10th Cir. 2009)).

         In considering whether there are sufficient ends-of-justice findings in the record, we have distinguished between (1) cases where the record "contain[s] an explanation of why the mere occurrence of the event identified by the party as necessitating the continuance results in the need for additional time" and (2) those where the record contains "only short, conclusory statements lacking in detail." See Toombs, 574 F.3d at 1271. While findings of the former type are generally adequate to satisfy the requirements of the Speedy Trial Act, the latter are not.

         In Occhipinti, for example, we held the court's findings comported with the Speedy Trial Act, based on both the court's findings in its written order and the statements of the government, the moving party. In its motion for a continuance, the government explained it had three upcoming trials scheduled and thus would not be able to prepare for the instant trial without additional time. 998 F.2d at 797. The district court granted the motion, finding "that a continuance was necessary to allow the government sufficient time to prepare" and stating in its written order that "the period of delay resulting from the continuance granted pursuant to this Order shall be excludable time as provided in 18 U.S.C. ยง ...


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