United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
L. HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
ELIZABETH E. FOOTE JUDGE.
the Court is the Government's motion to reinstate the
Defendant's judgment of conviction. [Record Document
106]. The Defendant, Rickey Nikki Beene
(“Beene”), opposes the Government's motion.
[Record Document 108]. For the reasons that follow, the
Government's motion is DENIED.
the parties are well aware of the procedural history of this
case, the Court will recount only the details pertinent to
the instant inquiry. The Fifth Circuit vacated this
Court's original suppression ruling, which had granted in
part and denied in part Beene's motion to suppress.
See Record Document 96. The Fifth Circuit then
remanded the matter to this Court for further proceedings.
Id. On remand, this Court once again granted in
and denied in part Beene's motion to suppress, though the
denial was premised on different legal grounds than those set
forth in its original ruling. That is, for the first time,
the Court analyzed whether exigent circumstances existed to
permit the warrantless search of Beene's vehicle. The
Court held that exigent circumstances did exist and
accordingly denied Beene's motion to suppress the
evidence seized from his vehicle.
that ruling, Beene's counsel represented that Beene
wished to enter a guilty plea. However, the Government filed
the instant motion seeking to have Beene's judgment of
conviction reinstated, reasoning that reinstatement is
required because the Court ultimately denied the motion to
suppress the evidence seized from the vehicle, just as it did
in the original suppression ruling. The Government submits
that “in accordance with the Fifth Circuit Mandate,
” this Court must reinstate the conviction, rather than
allow a new guilty plea or sentencing hearing. Record
Document 106-1, p. 2.
opposes the Government's motion and argues that, based on
the Fifth Circuit's opinion, he should be returned to the
position he was in before he pled guilty. Beene agrees that
this Court has the power to simply reinstate the conviction,
but he asserts the Court is not required to do so in the
absence of an express mandate. The Court agrees with Beene.
Government's authority for its position rests on cases
which are inapposite and thus unpersuasive. Indeed, all of
the jurisprudence cited by the Government involves
circumstances in which the Fifth Circuit expressly directed a
lower court to reinstate a defendant's conviction if, on
remand, the lower court denied the motion to suppress.
See United States v. Guzman, 739 F.3d 241, 248-49
(5th Cir. 2014) (Guzman I) (“If [on remand],
the court again denies Guzman's motion to suppress, it
shall reinstate the conviction and sentence, and Guzman could
then appeal.”); United States v. Guzman, 614
F. App'x 745, 746 (5th Cir. 2015) (Guzman II)
(finding, in light of an express mandate to the lower court,
that lower court did not err in reinstating Guzman's
conviction); United States v. Cherry, 759 F.2d 1196,
1212 (5th Cir. 1985) (“If the district court determines
that Cherry's consent to . . . search was voluntary . . .
and untainted. . ., the judgment must be reinstated.”);
United States v. Robinson, 625 F.2d 1211, 1221 (5th
Cir. 1980) (“If the district court finds Markonni
‘seized' Robinson without a reasonable suspicion of
criminal activity and that Robinson's consent to search
was tainted by the illegal seizure, it must suppress the
evidence and discharge the defendant. If it finds that the
seizure, if any, was lawful, or that the consent to search
was not tainted, the original sentence must be
reinstated.”); United States v. Wilson, 569
F.2d 392, 397 (5th Cir. 1978) (“If the District Court
finds that the Wong Sun taint had not been
dissipated, it will suppress the evidence and discharge the
defendant. If it finds that the taint had in fact been
dissipated, the original sentence will be reinstated.”)
primary and crucial distinction between Beene's case and
those cited above is the absence of an explicit directive
from the Fifth Circuit. Indeed, when vacating the Court's
suppression ruling, the Fifth Circuit stated “[t]he
conviction and sentence are VACATED, and the case is REMANDED
for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
Record Document 96. The Government has cited no case, nor has
the Court's own research located one, directly on point
with the instant case-- one in which the Fifth Circuit has
held that reinstatement is required even in the absence of
specific language in its own mandate.
the Fifth Circuit knows how to include specific directives to
lower courts regarding reinstatement of a defendant's
conviction. In this case, that directive is clearly absent.
There is no instruction, nor even a suggestion, of how this
Court should proceed upon denial of Beene's motion to
suppress. Without this language, the Court does not find that
reinstatement is required or “expected, ” as the
Government submits, for the simple reason that the mandate
does not contain the language necessary to reach such a
Court's conclusion is bolstered by the fact that the
suppression ruling following remand did not
“reaffirm” the original ruling, as the Government
suggests, but instead denied the motion to suppress the
evidence seized from the vehicle on grounds completely
different than those urged and considered previously. Thus,
this Court did not reaffirm its prior ruling. It analyzed
issues anew and reached a conclusion legally distinct from
its original holding-one which nonetheless resulted in the
denial of Beene's motion to suppress the evidence seized
from his vehicle. This may be a nuanced distinction, but it
is a significant one in the Court's view.
Court agrees that Beene should resume the procedural posture
he maintained prior to his entry of a guilty plea, and he
should be allowed to plead anew, if that is still his
for the foregoing reasons, IT IS ORDERED that the
Government's motion to reinstate Beene's judgment of
conviction [Record Document 106] be and is hereby DENIED. The
parties must contact this Court by January 20, 2017 to either
schedule a guilty plea or schedule a conference to set this
case for trial.