United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER GRANTING THE UNITED STATES' MOTION TO
RESCIND THE STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR RELEASE ORDER AND
CLARIFICATION OF WAIVER OF PRELIMINARY HEARING
FASHING UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER having come before the Court on the United States'
Motion to Vacate the Detention Hearing and Motion to Vacate
and Rescind the Statement of Reasons for Release Order and
Clarification of Waiver of Preliminary Hearing, and having
considered the grounds set forth in those motions, finds that
the motions are well-taken and should be
granted. The Court accepts that the inconsistent
positions of the United States with respect to Mr.
Williams' release was the result of unintentional
miscommunications. However, given the circumstances of this
case, the Court finds it necessary to comment on two aspects
of the government's motion.
the United States notes “that it is extremely rare for
a defendant charged with a presumption case like this one to
be released on conditions in the Midland Division of the
Western District of Texas.” Doc. 11 at 2, n.1. In the
future, AUSAs in the District of New Mexico should make clear
to AUSAs in other Districts that this Court does not
automatically detain any defendant. Even if a presumption of
detention applies, this Court follows longstanding Tenth
Circuit caselaw that the defendant's burden of production
to overcome the presumption is not heavy, and that “the
burden of persuasion regarding risk-of-flight and danger to
the community always remains with the government.”
United States v. Stricklin, 932 F.2d 1353, 1354-55
(10th Cir. 1991) (per curiam). In other words, if
the charging District wants a defendant detained, it is the
charging District's responsibility to provide the AUSA
handling the matter in this District with any information and
evidence that relates to a defendant's dangerousness
the United States also notes that “the defendant's
claims that he only agreed to waive those [identity and
preliminary] hearings because of the United States'
position [that it did not oppose release], or that he has
been prejudiced by the Western District of Texas later
seeking to revoke the release order, lack merit.” Doc.
11 at 2, n.2. It was the Court, not Mr. Williams, who
suggested that Mr. Williams may have waived his identity
hearing and preliminary hearing (in New Mexico) based on the
government's position on detention. Although the Court
knew that Mr. Williams formally waived those hearings before
the Court addressed the issue of detention, parties often
discuss these issues in advance of the hearing, and the Court
thought that that may have happened in this case. But the
parties disabused the Court of that idea at the hearing on
Friday afternoon, and the Court did not base its Statement of
Reasons on this rationale.
the Court still believes that Mr. Williams may have suffered
prejudice as a result of the government's
miscommunications and inconsistent positions. Had the
government presented evidence and argument at the detention
hearing showing that Mr. Williams was either a flight risk or
a danger to the community, Mr. Williams would have had an
opportunity to address that evidence and argument directly.
See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f) (“The person
shall be afforded an opportunity to testify, to present
witnesses, to cross-examine witnesses who appear at the
hearing, and to present information by proffer or
otherwise.”). Had the Court heard the evidence, it may
have ruled in favor of the government and ordered Mr.
Williams detained, but it would have done so only after
explaining on the record and in writing its reasoning.
See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(i). Mr. Williams then
could have assessed whether to appeal that ruling to a
District Judge in Texas. On the other hand, it also is
possible that the Court still would have released Mr.
Williams, but it may have imposed additional or different
conditions of release that alleviated the government's
concerns about Mr. Williams' flight risk or his danger to
the community. Although the United States still could have
appealed the Court's order and sought a stay, Mr.
Williams at least would have been aware of the evidence and
argument that supported his detention. In other words, the
procedural safeguards in the Bail Reform Act are intended to
ensure that defendants are not detained without an
evidentiary hearing for at most three or five days
(depending on which party is seeking the continuance) after
the defendant's first appearance. See 18 U.S.C.
because of the inconsistent positions of the United States,
Mr. Williams was held in custody for three full days after
his initial appearance (not including the intervening
weekend) without a true evidentiary hearing, and without the
prospect of an evidentiary hearing until a full three weeks
after his initial appearance on September 5, 2019. During
that time, Mr. Williams lost his liberty, could have lost his
job (which helps to support his four children), and certainly
was not able to work while in custody. Thus, although the
United States acted quickly to rectify the situation, its
actions could have had a profound effect on Mr. Williams,
which is unfortunate. Nonetheless, and as stated above, the
Court accepts the explanations of the United States and
appreciates the efforts it made to secure Mr. Williams'
release on September 11, 2019.
THEREFORE ORDERED that the Court's Statement of Reasons
for Release Order and Clarification of Waiver of Preliminary
Hearing (Doc. 10) is hereby rescinded and vacated.
 The Court already vacated the
detention hearing that was scheduled for September 12, 2019.
See Text-Only Order ...