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United States v. Doby

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

July 8, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
JERRY DOBY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (D.C. No. 5:18-CR-40057-HLT-1)

          Daniel T. Hansmeier, Appellate Chief (Melody Brannon, Federal Public Defender, and Carl Folsom, III, with him on the briefs), Office of the Kansas Federal Public Defender, Kansas City, Kansas, for Defendant-Appellant.

          James A. Brown, Assistant United States Attorney (Stephen R. McAllister, United States Attorney, and Christine E. Kenney, Assistant United States Attorney, with him on the briefs), Office of the United States Attorney, Topeka, Kansas, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before HARTZ, HOLMES, and PHILLIPS, Circuit Judges.


         In this appeal, Defendant-Appellant Jerry Doby challenges the district court's denial of his motion under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(a)(2) and 18 U.S.C. § 3142(c)(3) seeking vacatur of pretrial release conditions imposed by a magistrate judge. The district court denied the motion as not properly before the court under these provisions (and also denied the motion as improper under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f), which Mr. Doby did not rely on in his motion). The district court ruled, among other things, that Mr. Doby's motion was improper under § 3145(a)(2) because Mr. Doby had not complied with the time limit for objections set forth in Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 59(a) ("Rule 59(a)").

         Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we reverse and remand for further proceedings. We agree with Mr. Doby that the district court erred in applying Rule 59(a)'s framework to a motion under § 3145(a)(2). Because this is a sufficient basis, standing alone, upon which to reverse and remand, we do not reach Mr. Doby's other arguments.


         In June 2018, Mr. Doby was charged with one count of failing to register as a sex offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). A detention hearing was held in July 2018, and a magistrate judge imposed conditions of pretrial release, including a curfew, location monitoring, and monitoring of Mr. Doby's computer use. He did not object to those conditions at that time.

         In September 2018, the Probation Office petitioned to modify other pretrial release conditions, and, after a hearing, a magistrate judge modified Mr. Doby's release conditions upon the parties' stipulation. The magistrate judge's order did not identify the legal authority under which he modified the conditions. At that time, Mr. Doby still did not challenge the conditions now at issue.

         In November 2018, Mr. Doby moved to vacate the curfew, location monitoring, and computer monitoring conditions as unconstitutional. He did not address the motion to a specific judge or invoke a specific tier of decisionmaking-that is, he did not direct his motion to the district court or a magistrate judge. Instead, he simply addressed it, generically, to "the [c]ourt" or "this [c]ourt." See, e.g., Aplt.'s App. at 9, 42 (Mot. to Modify Conditions, dated Nov. 7, 2018).

         Mr. Doby's motion was made under two statutes. One was § 3145(a)(2), which provides that a person ordered released by a magistrate judge may file, "with the court having original jurisdiction over the offense, a motion for amendment of the conditions of release," and that such a motion "shall be determined promptly." 18 U.S.C. § 3145(a)(2). The other was § 3142(c)(3), which states that "[t]he judicial officer may at any time amend the order to impose additional or different conditions of release." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(c)(3).

         The government responded, conceding that the computer monitoring condition was unnecessary but opposing on the merits the vacatur of the curfew and location monitoring conditions. In a single sentence at the very end of the "Conclusion" section of its response, with no accompanying citations to legal authority, the government also stated that Mr. Doby "did not object to the condition at the time it was imposed, did not timely challenge the magistrate judge's order, and failed to raise any new basis to revisit his release order." Aplt.'s App. at 57 (Resp. in Opp'n, dated Nov. 28, 2018) (emphasis added). Mr. Doby's reply addressed this timeliness argument by contending that § 3145(a)(2) imposes no time limit on a motion to amend and that § 3142(c)(3) specifically states that the judicial officer may amend his order "at any time." Id. at 59-60 (Reply to Resp., dated Dec. 7, 2018) (emphasis omitted).

         A hearing on the motion was set before the district court.[1] Before the hearing was held, a magistrate judge issued a form order vacating the computer monitoring condition but not mentioning the other two conditions. The form order cited no legal authority for the magistrate judge's action.

         The district court later denied Mr. Doby's motion as "not properly before" the court. Id. at 71-76 (Mem. & Order, dated Jan. 28, 2019). First, the district court ruled that a request for relief under § 3145(a)(2) is subject to the fourteen-day time limit for objections in Rule 59(a), rendering Mr. Doby's November 2018 motion untimely as to conditions of release imposed in July 2018. The court reasoned that, because Rule 59 was enacted after § 3145(a) was last amended, the "supersession clause" of the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2072(b) ("All laws in conflict with such rules shall be of no further force or effect after such rules have taken effect."), results in Rule 59(a) predominating over § 3145(a)(2)'s silence regarding the timing of motions filed under it. See Aplt.'s App. at 73 & n.1. The district court further observed that, "[d]espite Rule 59's waiver provision," district courts have "discretionary authority" to review "release decisions" of magistrate judges. Id. at 73. It declined to exercise that discretion here, however, because Mr. Doby had several opportunities to raise his constitutional arguments earlier (starting with the July 2018 hearing itself) but instead delayed several months with no explanation.

         The district court then addressed the purported unavailability of relief under § 3142(f), which Mr. Doby's motion did not cite and which is not directly at issue in this appeal. Finally, the district court dispensed with Mr. Doby's argument regarding § 3142(c)(3) in a footnote, stating that this provision (1) refers to "proceedings before" the judicial officer that imposed release, i.e., the magistrate judge rather than a district judge; (2) specifies only when that judicial officer may act, not when the defendant may move; and (3) should ...

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