United States v. Reed, No. 16-3428

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtHamilton, Circuit Judge.
Citation859 F.3d 468
Parties UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Kevin REED, Defendant–Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 16-3428
Decision Date13 June 2017

859 F.3d 468

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff–Appellee,
v.
Kevin REED, Defendant–Appellant.

No. 16-3428

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

Argued May 25, 2017
Decided June 13, 2017


David E. Bindi, Attorney, Office of the United States Attorney, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff–Appellee.

Matthew J. McQuaid, Attorney, Law Office Of Matthew McQuaid, Chicago, IL, for Defendant–Appellant.

Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

Hamilton, Circuit Judge.

In the midst of his fraud trial, appellant Kevin Reed decided to plead guilty. He was sentenced within the applicable Sentencing Guideline range to sixty-four months in prison. In this appeal, he argues that his guilty plea was involuntary and that the sentencing judge failed to address his principal argument in mitigation, that a prison sentence would impose an extraordinary hardship on his family. We affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

In 2008, Kevin Reed operated Lambert Clark Group and affiliated companies that he claimed were able to make loans of between $50 million and $1 billion to entrepreneurs and start-ups. Reed charged would-be clients advance fees of between $10,000 and $50,000 to apply for these loans. His claims were lies: Reed's companies had no funds to lend, and while Reed and his co-defendants took in over $200,000 from six would-be clients, they never closed a loan.

Reed was indicted on six counts of wire fraud in connection with the transmissions of the advance fees. Reed pled not guilty and his case went before a jury. On the morning of the fourth day of trial, though, Reed's lawyer told the court that Reed wanted to enter a "blind" guilty plea. Per Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11, the district judge placed Reed under oath, explained his rights to him, and discussed with him his understanding of the charges and the consequences of pleading to them. Ultimately, the district judge accepted the guilty pleas to all charges.

859 F.3d 471

About four months later, and before sentencing, Reed moved to substitute attorneys. His new attorney then moved to withdraw the plea, arguing that Reed's trial attorney's ineffective representation at trial had coerced Reed to plead guilty. The district court denied the motion, emphasizing both that Reed had said under oath at his plea colloquy that he was satisfied with his lawyer and that Reed's claims of ineffectiveness were vague. The case proceeded to sentencing.

Reed's sentencing memorandum argued for a below-guidelines sentence of probation, emphasizing that his wife (who has a disabling illness) and three children (one of whom also has a disability) depend on him for financial and other forms of support. In a lengthy sentencing hearing, the court heard from Reed's victims and Reed's family. The court determined that the Sentencing Guidelines advised a sentence of between fifty-seven and seventy-one months incarceration. The district judge elected to follow that advice and sentenced Reed to sixty-four months in prison.

II. Analysis

We address first Reed's argument that he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and second his argument that the judge did not adequately address his mitigation argument based on his family circumstances.

A. Guilty Plea

A defendant may be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea after the court accepts it but before sentencing if he "can show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal." Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(d)(2)(B). Whether to allow withdrawal is "left to the sound discretion of the district court," and reversals are rare. United States v. Graf , 827 F.3d 581, 583–84 (7th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted). A motion to withdraw a guilty plea is particularly unlikely to have merit "if it seeks to dispute [the defendant's] sworn assurances to the court." Id. at 584.

Appropriate grounds to withdraw a plea include the defendant's actual or legal innocence, or the involuntary or unknowing nature of the plea. United States v. Mays , 593 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2010). Reed argues his plea was involuntary. His theory is that his trial lawyer was so unprepared for trial that he had no alternative but to plead guilty. That claim contradicts Reed's sworn testimony in his plea colloquy. The district judge asked Reed if he was "fully satisfied with the counsel, representation, and advice" he had been given. Reed replied, "Yes. He's excellent." Reed also confirmed that no one had threatened him or attempted "in any way" to force him to plead, and that he was pleading guilty of his "own free will" because he was actually guilty.

Those sworn statements were not "trifles" that Reed could just "elect to disregard." United States v. Stewart , 198 F.3d 984, 987 (7th Cir. 1999). "A believable claim that the plea had been coerced ... would demonstrate a good reason for deceit," id. , and ineffective assistance of counsel can support such a claim. Graf , 827 F.3d at 584 ; see also United States v. Weeks , 653 F.3d 1188, 1205–06 (10th Cir. 2011) (defendant's habeas petition alleged facts entitling him to an evidentiary hearing when it alleged, in part, that counsel's lack of preparation "pushed him" to enter a guilty plea); United States v. Moore , 599 F.2d 310, 313 (9th Cir. 1979) ("A plea entered because counsel is unprepared for trial is involuntary."). But the district court did not believe Reed's claim that his lawyer was ineffective because that claim was so vague.

We agree. Reed provided an affidavit explaining his claim. His affidavit refers to

859 F.3d 472

"[t]ens of thousands of documents" not used as exhibits and "dozens" of potential witnesses not interviewed, without identifying one such document or witness, let alone explaining their importance. The affidavit refers to disputing the testimony of an unidentified "key government witness" and to failures to use unspecified "thousands of documents" during unidentified cross-examinations. The affidavit also does not explain why Reed mentioned none of this in his plea colloquy. The affidavit says only that his counsel "prodded" him "to say yes." Cf. United States v. Jones , 168 F.3d 1217, 1220 (10th Cir. 1999) ("If Defendant was being coerced into pleading guilty, he should have so stated to the district court. He should have asked the court to appoint competent counsel and to continue his trial date.").

Reed bolsters his argument with a Proposed Defense Trial Plan his trial lawyer filed while seeking to replace Reed's earlier counsel. That plan laid out a timeline for completing the tasks Reed's affidavit says were not completed (reviewing unidentified documents, interviewing unspecified witnesses, etc.). The gap between promises and action shows, Reed believes, that his trial lawyer was unprepared. But to show ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must show that counsel's performance was objectively unreasonable. Graf , 827 F.3d at 584 (citations omitted). What Reed wanted from his lawyer or even what his lawyer promised him does not answer that question, nor does the original plan show anything about how plans and expectations may have changed by the time of trial.

The court found that Reed's vague claims about his lawyer were not "fair and just" grounds to withdraw his plea. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to withdraw the guilty plea entered in the midst of trial. See Jones , 168 F.3d at 1221 (affirming refusal to permit plea withdrawal based on conclusory claim that counsel was unprepared); United States...

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16 practice notes
  • Ludke v. United States, 20-C-54
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • 22 Noviembre 2021
    ...with counsel's advice. Petitioner's vague claims in the § 2255 motion cannot overcome these statements. See United States v. Reed, 859 F.3d 468, 471 (7th Cir. 2017) (rejecting plea withdrawal based on vague claims that contradicted statements during plea colloquy). 3. CIPA Security Clearanc......
  • Lopez v. Sessions, No. 17-1047
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 13 Junio 2017
    ...criminal elements is shared by all members of [Salvadoran] society who have or are perceived to have wealth, and there is no evidence 859 F.3d 468that the risk faced by the respondent is distinct because of the time he lived in the United States." While it's true that both statements come f......
  • United States v. Watts, No. 20-2198
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 5 Abril 2021
    ...district judges when they have said enough." United States v. Shoffner, 942 F.3d 818, 822 (7th Cir. 2019) (quoting United States v. Reed, 859 F.3d 468, 472 (7th Cir. 2017)). We are satisfied when, as here, the district court focuses on "those factors that it considered most relevant." Unite......
  • United States v. Wade, No. 17-3177
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 18 Mayo 2018
    ...is ‘not so weak as not to merit discussion,’ the court must ‘explain its reason for rejecting that argument.’ " United States v. Reed , 859 F.3d 468, 472 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting United States v. Schroeder , 536 F.3d 746, 755 (7th Cir. 2008) ).Wade argues that the district judge did not add......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Lopez v. Sessions, No. 17-1047
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 13 Junio 2017
    ...criminal elements is shared by all members of [Salvadoran] society who have or are perceived to have wealth, and there is no evidence 859 F.3d 468that the risk faced by the respondent is distinct because of the time he lived in the United States." While it's true that both statements come f......
  • Ludke v. United States, 20-C-54
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • 22 Noviembre 2021
    ...with counsel's advice. Petitioner's vague claims in the § 2255 motion cannot overcome these statements. See United States v. Reed, 859 F.3d 468, 471 (7th Cir. 2017) (rejecting plea withdrawal based on vague claims that contradicted statements during plea colloquy). 3. CIPA Security Clearanc......
  • United States v. Watts, No. 20-2198
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 5 Abril 2021
    ...district judges when they have said enough." United States v. Shoffner, 942 F.3d 818, 822 (7th Cir. 2019) (quoting United States v. Reed, 859 F.3d 468, 472 (7th Cir. 2017)). We are satisfied when, as here, the district court focuses on "those factors that it considered most relevant." Unite......
  • United States v. Wade, No. 17-3177
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 18 Mayo 2018
    ...is ‘not so weak as not to merit discussion,’ the court must ‘explain its reason for rejecting that argument.’ " United States v. Reed , 859 F.3d 468, 472 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting United States v. Schroeder , 536 F.3d 746, 755 (7th Cir. 2008) ).Wade argues that the district judge did not add......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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