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United States v. Rincon-Meza

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

May 22, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for dismissal of the indictment (Dkt. No. 35). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby DENIES the motion for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant is a citizen of Mexico and has been indicted on charges of possession of explosive material by an unlawful alien and possession of firearms by an unlawful alien. (Dkt. Nos. 1, 20, 35 at 2.) On March 21, 2019, the Government moved for pretrial detention. (Dkt. No. 11.) On the same day, an ICE detainer[1] was lodged that alleged that there was probable cause that Defendant is subject to removal. (Dkt. No. 26-1 at 2.) A detention hearing was held before the Honorable Paula L. McCandlis, United States Magistrate Judge. (Dkt. No. 35-1.) Judge McCandlis determined that Defendant did not pose a flight risk or a danger to the community, and ordered him released on pretrial bond conditions pursuant to the Bail Reform Act (“BRA”), 18 U.S.C. § 3141 et seq. (Id. at 19.)

         Defendant was subsequently detained by ICE at the Northwest Detention Center. (Dkt. No. 35 at 2.) Removal proceedings were initiated, and a bond hearing was held. (Id.) Defendant's attorney presented Judge McCandlis's order and findings. (Id.) The immigration judge determined that Defendant was a flight risk and a danger to society, and refused to release Defendant on bond pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq. (Id.) A removal order has not been issued in Defendant's immigration proceedings. (Id.)

         Defendant moves for an order dismissing the criminal indictment with prejudice, arguing that his detention by ICE pursuant to the INA violates his right to pretrial release under the BRA. (See generally id.)


         A. Dismissal of Indictment Legal Standard

         “A district court may dismiss an indictment on the ground of outrageous government conduct if the conduct amounts to a due process violation.” United States v. Barrera-Moreno, 951 F.2d 1089, 1091 (9th Cir. 1991). “If the conduct does not rise to the level of a due process violation, the court may nonetheless dismiss under its supervisory powers.” Id. Three recognized grounds on which the court may exercise its supervisory powers are “to remedy a constitutional or statutory violation; to protect judicial integrity by ensuring that a conviction rests on appropriate considerations validly before a jury; or to deter future illegal conduct.” Id.; see also United States v. W.R. Grace, 526 F.3d 499, 511 n.9 (9th Cir. 2008) (noting that a district court's supervisory powers are not limited to these three grounds).

         B. Construction of the BRA and INA

         The BRA was enacted by Congress to “give the courts adequate authority to make release decisions that give appropriate recognition to the danger a person may pose to others if released, ” and thus governs a court's decision about whether to release an arrestee pending trial. United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 742 (1987). The BRA generally favors granting arrestees pretrial release. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 3142(a)(1)-(2), 3142(b), 3142(c). But if a judicial officer finds, after holding a hearing, that “no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community, such judicial officer shall order the detention of the person before trial.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1). Judge McCandlis found that the Government had not met its burden of establishing that Defendant was a flight risk or a danger to the community, and thus ordered Defendant released on pretrial release on an appearance bond. (Dkt. Nos. 31, 32, 34, 35-1 at 19); see 18 U.S.C. §§ 3142(a)(1), 3142(b).

         The INA “contains the basic body of immigration law in the United States” and charges the Secretary of Homeland Security with the administration and enforcement of the INA and other immigration laws. Trujillo-Alvarez, 900 F.Supp.2d at 1174 (citing 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq); 8 U.S.C. § 1103(a)(1). “On a warrant issued by the [Secretary], an alien may be arrested and detained pending a decision on whether the alien is to be removed from the United States.” 8 U.S.C. § 1226(a). The Secretary has discretion to continue to detain the alien or release the alien on bond or conditional parole. See 8 U.S.C. § 1226(a)(1)-(2); see Nielsen v. Preap, 139 S.Ct. 954, 959 (2019). “The [Secretary's] discretionary judgment regarding the application of [8 U.S.C. § 1226] shall not be subject to [judicial] review.” 8 U.S.C. § 1226(e).[2] Rather, the alien may seek review of his detention by an officer of the Department and then by an immigration judge, during which “the alien may secure his release if he can convince the officer or immigration judge that he poses no flight risk and no danger to the community.” Nielsen, 139 S.Ct. at 959-60 (citing 8 C.F.R. §§ 236.1(c)(8), 236.1(d)(1), 1003.19(a), 1236(d); Matter of Guerra, 24 I. & N. Dec. 37 (BIA 2006)). In this case, Defendant was transferred to ICE custody following his detention hearing in his criminal case. (Dkt. Nos. 35 at 2, 38 at 2, 38-1 at 49.) The immigration judge found that Defendant was a flight risk and a danger to the community, denied bond, and ordered Defendant detained pending his removal proceedings. (Dkt. No. 38-1 at 51.) Thus, the Secretary has exercised its statutory discretion pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(a)(1) to detain Defendant pending removal proceedings.

         “[W]hen two statutes are capable of co-existence, it is the duty of the courts, absent a clearly expressed congressional intention to the contrary, to regard each as effective.” Morton v. Mancari, 417 U.S. 535, 551 (1974). Thus, when two statutes potentially conflict, the court “must read the statutes to give effect to each if [it] can do so while preserving their sense and purpose.” Watt v. Alaska, 451 U.S. 259, 267 (1981).

         The issue presented by the present motion is whether a judicial officer's determination that a defendant in criminal proceedings is entitled to pretrial release under the BRA precludes the Secretary from exercising its statutory discretion to detain Defendant pending removal proceedings under the INA. The Court finds that no such preclusion exists. The BRA is administered by the federal courts, and tasks them with ensuring a defendant's appearance at his criminal proceedings, while minimizing the burden of pretrial detention on him and the court system. See Salerno, 481 U.S. at 742; 18 U.S.C. § 3142. In contrast, the INA vests the Secretary with the authority to enforce its provisions, and grants the Secretary discretion to detain an alien pending removal proceedings. 8 U.S.C. §§ 1103(a)(1), 1226(a)(1)-(2). The detention of a criminal defendant pending trial and the ...

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