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United States v. Coleman

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

May 6, 2016

TITO A. COLEMAN, Defendant/Appellant.


James R. Spencer Senior U.S. District Judge

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant/Appellant Tito A. Coleman's Appeal of the Magistrate Judge's Decision to the District Court (ECF No. 20). On January 12, 2016, Coleman noted his appeal from the December 30, 2015 Judgment issued by the Honorable David J. Novak, United States Magistrate Judge, which sentenced Coleman to 8 months' imprisonment, 1 year of supervised release, and a $25 Special Assessment (ECF No. 19). On February 16, 2016, Coleman filed his brief in support of his appeal (ECF No. 26), and on February 27, 2016, the United States filed a brief in response (ECF No. 27). Coleman has not filed a reply brief, and the time to do so has expired. Coleman's appeal presents the following issue: "Whether the sentence imposed was procedurally and substantively reasonable under the circumstances?" (Coleman Appeal Br. 1.)

The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before it adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 58(g)(2)(B).[1] For the reasons that follow, the Court will affirm the magistrate judge's findings and the sentence imposed.


On August 3, 2015, the United States filed a two-count criminal information against Coleman alleging: (1) driving a vehicle with a suspended license, second offense in ten years, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 13, assimilating Va. Code § 46.2-301 (Count One); and (2) driving 62 miles per hour in a posted 45-mile per hour zone, in violation of 32 C.F.R. § 634.25(f), assimilating Va. Code § 46.2-878 (Count Two).[2] On October 16, 2015, Coleman pleaded guilty to Count One, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 months. The Court dismissed Count Two. The magistrate judge then scheduled a sentencing hearing for December 29, 2015.

Prior to the sentencing hearing, both parties submitted sentencing positions (ECF Nos. 11, 13) and agreed that, based on an Offense Level of 4 and Coleman's Criminal History Category of VI, the applicable United States Sentencing Guidelines (the "Guidelines") range for the conviction was 6 to 12 months. Coleman requested a sentence of a fine or a period of probation. The United States requested a period of incarceration within the applicable Guidelines range.

At the sentencing hearing, Coleman's counsel acknowledged that the Guidelines range should serve as the starting point for the magistrate judge's consideration. (Sentencing Transcript 14:2-7, ECF No. 26.) Coleman's counsel, nonetheless, requested a downward variance. (Id. 23:14-15.) After Coleman spoke, the magistrate judge discussed Coleman's criminal history, concluding that Coleman's record "is recidivism at its ultimate." (Id. 27:21- 22.) The magistrate judge then proceeded to discuss the 18 U.S.C. § 3353(a) factors:

So looking at the factors in 3553(a) of Title 18, starting with the nature and the circumstances of the offense, and the history and the characteristics of the defendant, we discussed the nature and circumstances of the offense, and I agree with Ms. Vidal as her description of what that offense is. And I'm not a big fan of this crime to begin with in general circumstances, but that's not the situation here.
The history and the circumstances of this defendant is one with no regard for the criminal justice system or society at all, as demonstrated by his criminal history. The need for the sentence-in Section 2, the need for the sentence imposed, a, to reflect the serious of the offense, to promote the respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense. We've, again, talked about the offense, and respect for the law is something that this defendant doesn't have.
To afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct, which fits into respecting the law. And to protect the public from future crimes of the defendant. I think his record speaks to that.
Provide the defendant with the need of education or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner. I'm going to address that in a-in my supervised release terms.
Kinds of sentences available. And then Section 4 lays out some of the other aspects here.
So having considered all those factors, and focused mostly on the recidivism, pursuant to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, it's going to be the judgment of the Court that the defendant, Tito A. Coleman, is hereby committed to the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons to be imprisoned for a term of eight months on Count 1.

(Id. 27:23-29:6.) The magistrate judge's above discussion of the ยง 3553(a) factors supplemented earlier conversation between the magistrate judge and Coleman's counsel, in which the magistrate judge commented extensively on Coleman's "significant" criminal history. The magistrate judge ultimately sentenced Coleman to 8 ...

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