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United States v. Davis

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

September 17, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CRAVELYN SQUILLA DAVIS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA AND PLEA AGREEMENT

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Cravelyn Squilla Davis's (Davis) motion to withdraw his guilty plea and plea agreement. Davis is represented by counsel. The Court exercises its discretion not to hold an evidentiary hearing on this motion. See United States v. Moore, 931 F.2d 245, 248 (4th Cir. 1991) (“Nor does a defendant automatically get an evidentiary hearing as a matter of right whenever he seeks to withdraw his guilty plea.). Having carefully considered the Motion, the response, the record, and the applicable law, it is the judgment of the Court Davis's motion to withdraw his guilty plea and plea agreement will be denied.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 5, 2018, the government filed a two-count indictment against Davis charging him with: 1) violations of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A) (collectively Drug Charges); and 2) violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(A)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), and 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii). On March II, 2019, Davis entered into a plea agreement with the government agreeing to plead guilty to the Drug Charges. On March 13, 2019, the Court held a Rule 11 hearing with a complete guilty plea colloquy (Rule 11 Colloquy). After receiving the Pre-Sentence Report (PSR Report) in late June 2019, Davis filed his on August 22, 2019.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “There is no absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea.” United States v. Ubakanma, 215 F.3d 421, 424 (4th Cir. 2000). To prevail, a defendant “has the burden of showing a fair and just reason for withdrawal.” Id.; see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(d)(2)(B) (“A defendant may withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere . . . after the court accepts the plea, but before it imposes sentence3 if . . . the defendant can show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal.”). “Accordingly, a properly conducted Rule 11 guilty plea colloquy leaves a defendant with a very limited basis upon which to have his plea withdrawn.” United States v. Bowman, 348 F.3d 408, 414 (4th Cir. 2003).

         Courts must weigh six factors in determining whether a defendant meets his high burden:

(1) whether the defendant has offered credible evidence that his pleas was not knowing or not voluntary, (2) whether the defendant has credibly asserted his legal innocence, (3) whether there has been a delay between the entering of the plea and the filing of the motion, (4) whether defendant has had close assistance of competent counsel, (5) whether withdrawal will cause prejudice to the government, and (6) whether it will inconvenience the court and waste judicial resources.

United States v. Moore, 931 F.2d 245, 248 (4th Cir. 1991). Under Moore, not all factors are given “equal weight, ” with the “first, second, and fourth” factor being given more weight. United States v. Sparks, 67 F.3d 1145, 1154 (4th Cir. 1995).

         IV. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         The Court advised Davis of each of his rights during the Rule 11 Colloquy and Davis made a knowing and voluntary acceptance of guilt, thus constituting “an admission of all material facts alleged in the charge.” Bowman, 348 F.3d at 414 (internal quotations omitted). Davis has failed to meet the subsequent high burden of showing that a withdrawal is merited in light of the colloquy. The Court will address each of the Moore factors below.

         A. Knowing and Voluntary

         Davis, as the transcript of his Rule 11 Colloquy makes clear, agreed he understood the plea agreement and had an opportunity to review the agreement with his attorney. Plea Tr. 37-38. Further, he acknowledged at the hearing he understood the “nature of the charge . . . made against” him, as described by the government. Plea Tr. at 32-34. Most importantly, when asked if he committed the offense ...


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