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United States v. Perez-Hernandez

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

September 5, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
PEDRO PEREZ-HERNANDEZ, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         This matter comes before the Court upon Defendant's request that attorney Brandon Lettunich no longer represent him in this matter. As a result, Mr. Lettunich filed an opposed motion to withdraw. (Doc. 75). On September 5, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the motion, at which Defendant appeared with Mr. Lettunich, and Kris Jarvis appeared for the United States and voiced no position on the motion. Having considered the statements of counsel, Defendant's statements, the history of this case, and the applicable law, the Court grants the motion. In doing so, the Court makes the following findings and conclusions as well as those stated on the record at the hearing:

         1. On October 26, 2018, Defendant was charged by criminal complaint with the criminal immigration offense, Reentry after Deportation, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a) and (b).

         2. The Court appointed Assistant Federal Public Defender, Andre Poissant, to represent Defendant, who is indigent.

         3. On November 5, 2018, the Magistrate Judge held a preliminary hearing and found probable cause to believe Defendant committed the offense charged.

         4. On November 14, 2018, the Grand Jury returned an indictment, charging Defendant with the same offense, specifically 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a) and (b), Reentry of a Removed Alien.

         5. The Court set the matter for a jury trial on January 14, 2019.

         6. On December 14, 2018, Mr. Poissant filed a motion to withdraw, (Doc. 16), stating Defendant requested another attorney be appointed, and expressed "concerns regarding undersigned counsel representing him." The Court granted the motion, (Doc. 17), and appointed attorney Brock Benjamin to represent Defendant, (Doc. 18).

         7. After originally resetting the jury trial for April 15, 2019, the Court again reset the trial for April 9, 2019, without objection from Defendant or counsel.

         8. On April 9, 2019, the Court held a hearing on multiple pre-trial motions, including motions in limine. Afterward, and based at least in part on the rulings of the Court, Defendant opted to waive his right to a jury trial and instead proceeded with a bench trial.

         9. The Court ultimately found Defendant guilty of the offense charged, (Doc. 58).

         10. On June 6, 2019, Defendant sent a letter to the Court, (Doc. 78), requesting the return of certain documents.

         11. On July 10, 2019, Defendant filed a hand-written document the Court construed as a motion for new counsel, (Doc. 61), in which Defendant stated specific concerns with his attorney. Defendant attached a "Motion to Vacate Decision by District Court Pursuant on Unfair trial and Vindication of Sixth Const. Amend, 3006(A), and Fifth Const. Amend" (Motion to Vacate Decision) (Doc. 62).

         12. On July 12, 2019, Mr. Benjamin filed a motion to withdraw, (Doc. 63), in which he stated Defendant "did not want to be represented by him and that he should withdraw, .... [T]his motion to withdraw [is] based on the request of his client."

         13. On July 23, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the motion to withdraw and, after hearing from counsel and Defendant, granted the motion. On the same date, the Court ...


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