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United States v. Ashby

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 22, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JESSICA L. ASHBY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jessica Ashby's objection (Dkt. No. 53) to the denial by the Honorable James P. Donohue, United States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 51) of her motion to reopen the detention hearing (Dkt. No. 35). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and OVERRULES Ashby's objection for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 8, 2017, Judge Donohue ordered Ashby detained pending trial. (Dkt. No. 17.) Judge Donohue noted that Ashby has ongoing mental health and substance abuse issues; has no real support structure in her life; has a history of failures to appear; has ties to Mexico; and engaged in drug trafficking even after her arrest on state drug charges. (Id. at 1-2.) He concluded that “no conditions or combination of conditions other than detention . . . would reasonably assure the appearance of defendant as required or ensure the safety of the community.” (Id. at 2.)

         On June 8, Ashby brought a motion under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f) seeking to reopen the detention hearing. (Dkt. No. 35.) Ashby alleged that she was overcoming her methamphetamine addiction, wished to complete a 26-day drug treatment plan, and would move in with her aunt in Lake Stevens. (Id. at 1-2.) Ashby also noted that she had learned that her current pregnancy was high-risk due to a condition called placenta previa. (Id. at 2.)

         Judge Donohue ordered the parties to supplement the record regarding the ability of the Federal Detention Center (FDC) to manage Ashby's high-risk pregnancy. (Dkt. No. 41 at 1-2.)

         At the hearing, Judge Donohue stated that he would not reexamine the issues of community safety and Ashby's previous failures to appear. (See Dkt. No. 56, Exhibit 1) (recording of detention hearing). Instead, he limited his consideration to the issue of whether the FDC could appropriately manage Ashby's pregnancy. (Id.) The parties presented argument on this issue. (Id.) Judge Donohue ultimately concluded that the FDC could provide adequate medical care and denied Ashby's motion to reopen the detention hearing. (Id.)

         Ashby now objects to that denial. (Dkt. No. 53.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         A district judge may refer any non-dispositive matter for a magistrate judge to determine. Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(a). A party may object to a magistrate judge's order. Id. The district judge must consider such objections and set aside any part of the order that is contrary to law or clearly erroneous. Id.

         B. Analysis

         Ashby maintains that Judge Donohue committed error by refusing to reassess the 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g) release factors except for the FDC's ability to provide adequate medical care regarding Ashby's pregnancy. (Dkt. No. 53 at 3.) Ashby alleges that, “[u]nder 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2), the court was required to consider all of the defendant's newly offered information” to determine whether it was new and material. (Id.)

         However, Ashby does not show that § 3142(f)(2) places such a mandate on the Court. This provision states that “the hearing may be reopened . . . if the judicial officer finds that [new and material] information exists.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2) (emphasis added). The permissive language indicates that the Court is not required to consider the information or even to reopen the hearing if it makes such a finding. Cf. United States v. Rodgers, 461 U.S. 677, 706 (1983) (“The word ‘may, ' when used in a statute, usually implies some degree of discretion[, but t]his common-sense principle of statutory construction . . . can be defeated by indications of legislative intent to the contrary or by obvious inferences from the structure and purpose of the statute.”); Uni ...


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