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United States v. Luther

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

February 26, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WILLIAM LUTHER, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant William Luther's ("Defendant") Rule 58(g) appeal from a judgment of conviction entered by United States Magistrate Judge Thomas Rawles Jones, Jr. on September 23, 2014. [Dkt. 1.] For the reasons that follow, the Court will affirm the judgment.

I. Background

On June 10, 2014 following a bench trial before Judge Jones, Defendant was convicted of (1) Reckless Driving, in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.2, adopting Va. Code § 46.2-852; (2) Speeding, in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.2(c); (3) Unsafe Operation - Failure to Maintain Control, in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.22(b)(3); (4) Unsafe Operation, in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.22(b)(1); and (5) Fleeing to Elude Police, in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.2, adopting Va. Code § 46.2-817. (Gov't's Opp. to Defendant's Notice of Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 10] at 1.) Defendant was sentenced on September 23, 2014. Judge Jones administratively closed the two Unsafe Operation counts. (Judgment [Dkt. 2] at 2.) Defendant was sentenced to twenty-one days imprisonment on the Fleeing to Elude Police Count and one year of supervised probation with special conditions on the Reckless Driving and Speeding counts (to run concurrently). (Id. )

On October 1, 2014 Defendant, through counsel, timely filed this notice of appeal. [Dkt. 1.] In that notice, he raised three grounds for the appeal: (1) insufficient evidence to establish identity; (2) error in denying his motion to strike testimony of Sergeant Daniels, one of the arresting officers; and (3) error in denying his motion to dismiss the eluding police charge on grounds it was inadequately pled to state an offense or invoke the Court's jurisdiction. (Id. ) Judge Jones granted Defendant's motion to stay the sentence of imprisonment pending appeal. [Dkt. 5.]

On October 8, 2014 Defendant filed his "Notice for Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction & Venue." [Dkt. 8.] In the motion, he "gives notice of Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and Venue and right to proceed pro se - with assistance of counsel of first [choice]." (Id. ) The government filed an opposition, claiming that the motion fails to comply with this District's Local Rules governing criminal cases and therefore should be denied without prejudice. (Gov't's Opp. at 1.)

The Court determines that oral argument is unnecessary as the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument.[1]

Having been briefed and argued, this motion is ripe for disposition.

II. Standard of Review

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 58(g)(2)(B), a defendant may appeal a magistrate judge's judgment to a district judge within fourteen days of its entry. "The scope of the appeal is the same as in an appeal to the court of appeals from a judgment entered by a district judge." Fed. R. Crim. P. 58(g)(2)(D). Thus, in reviewing a judgment of conviction entered by a magistrate judge, a "district court utilizes the same standards of review applied by a court of appeals in assessing a district court conviction, " rather than conducting a "trial de novo. " United States v. Bursey, 416 F.3d 301, 305 (4th Cir. 2005).

On appeal to the district court, the record consists of "the original papers and exhibits in the case together with any transcript, tape, or other recording of the proceedings and a certified copy of the docket entries...." Fed. R. Crim. P. 58(g)(2)(C). Where the issue presented on appeal is purely a question of law, the district judge reviews the decision de novo. United States v. Smith, 115 F.3d 241, 244 (4th Cir. 1997). Findings of fact are reviewed for clear error, and credibility determinations are not susceptible to judicial review but rather are the sole province of the factfinder. See Bursey, 416 F.3d at 306; United States v. Lomax, 293 F.3d 701, 705 (4th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted).

III. Analysis

A. Sufficiency of the Evidence as to Identity

A conviction must be affirmed if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the government, is sufficient for any rational factfinder to find the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. See United States v. Burgos, 94 F.3d 849, 862 (4th Cir. 1996). In evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence, the Court does not review the credibility of the witnesses, and it assumes that the factfinder resolved all ...


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