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United States v. Mayo

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

June 20, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAMES ALBERT MAYO

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is an “Appeal of the Magistrate Judge's Decision Ordering Pre-Trial Detention, ” filed by the Defendant James Mayo (“Mayo”) in the above-captioned matter. Record Document 40. The Government objects to Mayo's request to be re-released on electronic monitoring. Record Document 42. For the reasons that follow, the Magistrate Judge's decision to detain Mayo pending trial is AFFIRMED.

         I. Factual Background.

         Mayo was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C § 922(g). Record Document 1. The Government moved for pre-trial detention. At a hearing on the matter before Magistrate Judge Hornsby, Mayo presented testimony from witnesses, including his uncle, James Ellis (“Ellis”). The testimony established that Mayo and his fiancé, Erica Pitts (“Pitts”), lived with Ellis in an above-garage apartment. Ellis suffers from a number of medical conditions, including Parkinson's, paranoid schizophrenia, cardiac issues, and high blood pressure. Ellis testified that Mayo and Pitts helped to care for him by preparing his meals, helping him bathe, and assisting him in taking his medications.

         At the conclusion of the hearing, Magistrate Judge Hornsby decided to release Mayo on a home incarceration bond that required electronic monitoring. The primary reason for this, as evidenced by the transcript of the hearing, was to avoid a disruption in care for Ellis. Magistrate Judge Hornsby told Mayo,

I'm going to release you . . . so that you can go home and take care of your uncle. . . . You're to be limited to that house. Don't leave that house except for one of two reasons: One, you're taking your uncle to the doctor, or two, you're going to meet with Mr. Woodley. . . . Other than that, you're stuck at home.

         Record Document 40-2, p. 32. The court further warned Mayo that if he violated the bond in any way, his bond would be revoked. Id. at 32-33. Finally, the court cautioned, “there's no second chances on this bond. Violate it and you go directly to jail.” Id. at 33. Mayo was directed to check with the Probation Officer, Jennifer DeMoss (“Officer DeMoss”), with any questions related to what he could and could not do on electronic monitoring. Mayo was advised to consult with Officer DeMoss to obtain court approval if he needed to travel for any legitimate reason.

         Mayo's electronic monitoring equipment contained two essential pieces: the ankle bracelet worn by Mayo and the base unit that stayed plugged in inside the apartment. Because Mayo lived in a second story apartment, there were stairs that had to be accessed to enter or leave the residence. Mayo was informed by Officer DeMoss that the stairs would be out of range of the base unit, and therefore he could not go downstairs. Officer DeMoss told Mayo not to move the base unit for any reason because that would indicate that “someone is trying to relocate it so it looks like they're at that residence when they're actually somewhere else.” Record Document 40-3, p. 7.

         Mayo's electronic monitoring began on March 6, 2019. On April 3, 2019, Officer DeMoss filed a petition to revoke Mayo's bond based upon ten violations of the conditions of his release. Record Document 23. Specifically, Officer DeMoss submitted that there were eight times between March 28 and April 2 during which Mayo exceeded the range of his electronic monitoring (roughly fifty feet) without prior authorization. At the time of the hearing, Officer DeMoss was not certain of the length of those absences or the time of day when they occurred; she simply knew they had occurred, as evidenced by the data received by the company monitoring Mayo's equipment.[1] In addition to those eight unauthorized absences, there was evidence that the monitoring device's base unit was moved at 3:30 a.m. on March 30, 2019. Finally, the petition represented that Mayo had a thirty-seven minute absence on April 3, 2019, at 2:06 a.m. After DeMoss filed her petition on April 3, 2019, Mayo committed two more violations of his release, on April 4 and April 5, respectively. On the date of the hearing, April 6, Mayo was once again outside of the apartment-downstairs in the yard-when the United States Marshals approached him with an arrest warrant.

         At the revocation hearing, Officer DeMoss testified and established the violations outlined above. In response, Mayo testified. He did not deny any of the violations. Rather, he provided explanations to the court in mitigation of his actions. Mayo conceded that Officer DeMoss told him not “to go down the stairs, period, unless I was taking my uncle to the hospital or I was going to see [Mr. Woodley].” Id. at pp. 12-13. Mayo told the court that if he went down the stairs and outside the boundaries of the monitoring equipment, it was usually for three reasons: (1) to assist Ellis down the stairs and into the medical transportation van; (2) to meet his children when they were dropped off by the school bus, [2] or (3) to meet the mother of some of his children who was dropping off or picking up the children. As to the base unit being unplugged, Mayo testified that one of his children was having an asthma attack during the night and his other children inadvertently unplugged the electronic monitoring base while trying to plug in the child's breathing machine. Regarding the thirty-seven minute absence, Mayo testified that during the night while he was sleeping, Pitts had arrived home from work and her car broke down in front of the driveway. Mayo woke up and went outside to push the car back into the driveway to avoid complaints from other residents. Mayo explained that he did not realize he could have or should have contacted Officer DeMoss about such a lengthy absence; he believed it would be rude to call her during the night. Mayo explained that he would do better if permitted to resume electronic monitoring.

         Magistrate Judge Hornsby revoked Mayo's bond, explaining that Mayo's three prior drug felonies and prior arrests for domestic abuse counseled against home confinement, but that he had been moved to try electronic monitoring to allow Mayo to help with Ellis's care. However, after repeated violations of the court's pretrial release order, the court was compelled to revoke the bond and detain Mayo. This appeal followed.

         II. Law and Analysis.

         Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b), a defendant may seek this Court's review of an adverse detention order entered by a Magistrate Judge. This Court must make an independent determination of the proper pretrial detention or condition of release based upon a de novo review ...


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