United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Glen E. Conrad Chief United States District Judge
defendant, Hameen Irvin, was charged in a multi-count
superseding indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent
to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin
in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. The
defendant pled guilty to Count One of the superseding
indictment. The court sentenced Irvin to 90 months
imprisonment and entered judgment on February 15, 2017. This
case is presently before the court on defendant's
after-sentencing motion to withdraw his plea of guilty.
was arrested on June 22, 2015. See Docket No. 40. While in
the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, Irvin became a prolific
writer. Irvin also struggled to work with counsel.
Irvin's second court-appointed attorney filed a motion
for a psychiatric examination, which the government joined
and the court granted on February 11, 2016. As a result of
the psychiatric evaluation, it was determined that Irvin was
competent to continue in the proceedings against him. Hearing
Tr. Oct. 5, 2016 at 4:3-10.
many letters Irvin sent to the court and opposing counsel,
Irvin continued to assert that his case had "a
technicality" in it, and he sought to suppress evidence
obtained through what Irvin believed to be an illegal search
and seizure. The court held a motions hearing on October 5,
2016 to address Irvin's allegations.
motions hearing, Irvin informed the court that he wished to
proceed with his motions without the assistance of his third
court-appointed counsel. The court noted Irvin's continued
frustration with counsel despite the court's belief in
the competence of counsel's representation. Nevertheless,
the court pressed Irvin as to whether he was willing to
proceed pro se with the assistance of stand-by counsel to
help with procedural matters. At that point in time, the
defendant proclaimed, "I ain't going to waste no
more time. I'm going to take that plea. I withdraw the
motion." Hearing Tr. Oct. 5, 2016 at 10:4-6. Irvin also
requested assistance of counsel for purposes of plea
negotiations. Id. 11:3-5. The court recessed so that
the parties could continue their negotiations, and the
parties, with assistance of Irvin's counsel, came to an
agreement pursuant to Rule 11 (c)(1)(C).
returning, the court proceeded with a Rule 11 hearing. The
court first asked if Irvin wanted to proceed with counsel,
which Irvin indicated that he did. Id. 11:17-20.
During the proceeding, the court confirmed that Irvin's
counsel had discussed with him the nature of the charges and
what the government needed to prove its case. With further
questioning, the court determined that the defendant was not
suffering any impairment that would prevent him from making a
knowing and voluntary plea of guilty, that Irvin intended to
plead guilty, that no one coerced him in making this plea,
and that he understood the charges against him and the
consequences of pleading guilty, including the constitutional
rights he was waiving upon entering this plea. At the end of
the Rule 11 colloquy, the court asked Irvin how he pled to
the criminal conduct charged. The defendant answered, "I
plead guilty." Hearing Tr. October 5, 2016 at 56:25. The
court accepted Irvin's plea. Id. at 57:8.
Despite entering this plea, on October 6, 2016 in a letter
written to the court, Irvin asked to withdraw his plea of
guilty. Docket No. 180.
October 6, 2016 and December 9, 2016, Irvin wrote the court
no less than five additional times noting that he would not
accept the plea agreement and asking for leave to withdraw
his plea of guilty. On December 9, 2016, the court entered an
order granting Irvin leave to file a motion to withdraw his
plea of guilty. See Docket No. 202. The court scheduled a
hearing for February 13, 2017, at which time the court would
either impose a sentence or proceed with trial, depending on
whether Irvin would withdraw his guilty plea. Between
December 9, 2016 and February 13, 2017, the court received at
least seven letters from Irvin indicating that he would
accept the plea agreement and that he did not wish to go to
trial. Irvin lodged no objections to the presentence
investigation report, which the United States Probation
Office completed on December 30, 2016. See Docket No. 220.
February 13, 2017, Irvin appeared before the court and
confirmed his desire not to withdraw his plea of guilty and
to be sentenced. Initially, Irvin objected to a sentencing
enhancement listed in his presentence report, but withdrew
the objection. See Docket No. 217. Thereafter, the court
adopted the presentence report, accepted the plea agreement,
and sentenced Irvin to a 90 month term of imprisonment, the
agreed upon term under the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement.
Judgment was entered on February 15, 2017. See Docket No.
218. On February 23, 2017, Irvin wrote the court again
requesting to withdraw his plea of guilty. Docket No.
defendant may withdraw a plea of guilty before sentencing if
"the defendant can show a fair and just reason for
requesting the withdrawal." Fed. R. Crim. P.
11(d)(2)(B). After the court imposes sentence, however,
"the defendant may not withdraw a plea of guilty . . .,
and the plea may be set aside only on direct appeal or
collateral attack." Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(e); United
States v. Miles, 181 F.App'x 352, 354 (4th Cir.
2006). Even assuming Irvin has the right to seek withdrawal,
the court does not believe that there exists any
extraordinary circumstance that would support granting
defendant's motion. See United States v. Bowman,
348 F.3d 408, 414 (4th Cir. 2003) (listing "factors for
a district court to consider in deciding a plea withdrawal
motion"), Here, "the record of the proceedings
leading to the guilty plea shows compliance with Fed. R.
Crim. P. 11 [and] establishes conclusively that the plea was
voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently made."
United States v. Sibert, 378 F.Supp. 823 (E.D. Pa.
1974); see also Bowman, 348 F.3d at 414 ("[A]
properly conducted Rule 11 guilty plea leaves a defendant
with a very limited basis upon which to have his plea
withdrawn."). As established at the Rule 11 hearing,
Irvin clearly understood the nature of the charge and the
consequences of his plea. There existed a factual basis to
support a plea of guilty, and Irvin entered the plea
voluntarily, intelligently, and with the assistance of
counsel. Therefore, Irvin's case does not warrant
granting leave to withdraw.
extent defendant requests a hearing on this matter, the court
does not believe that a hearing is required. "A
defendant is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing as a
matter of right whenever he seeks to withdraw his guilty
plea." United States v. Gonzalez, 970 F.2d
1095, 1100 (2d Cir. 1992). To give rise to a right to a
hearing, the defendant "must present some significant
questions concerning the voluntariness or general validity of
the plea . ..." Id. (citing United
States v. Fountain, 777 F.2d 351, 358 n.3 (7th Cir.
1985)); see also Baker v. United States, 404 F.2d
787, 790 (10th Cir. 1968) (stating that a hearing is not
required if the record shows that the defendant was informed
of the consequences of his plea). Moreover, a hearing would
be futile as the court does not believe the circumstances
support granting leave to withdraw and, pursuant to Rule
11(e), Irvin's plea may be set aside only on direct
appeal or collateral attack. Accordingly, the court will deny
Irvin's motion to withdraw his plea of guilty without a
foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to withdraw his
plea of guilty will be denied. The Clerk is directed to send
copies of this memorandum opinion and the ...