United States v. White

Decision Date27 January 2022
Docket NumberCase No. 1:20-cr-20416
Citation582 F.Supp.3d 525
Parties The UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Darious Danyel WHITE, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan

Ann Nee, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Flint, MI, Anthony P. Vance, U.S. Attorney, United States Attorney's Office, Flint, MI, Adriana Dydell, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Detroit, MI, for Plaintiff.

Federal Community Defender, Public Defender, Flint, MI, Alan A. Crawford, Saginaw, MI, Stevens J. Jacobs, Jacobs Law Office, P.C., Bay City, MI, for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO RECUSE AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS INDICTMENT

THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, United States District Judge

This matter is before this Court upon Defendant Darious Danyel White's Motion to Recuse, ECF No. 80, and his Motion to Dismiss the Indictment, ECF No. 81. For the reasons explained hereafter, both Motions will be denied.

I.

Thirty firearms were stolen from Bowman's Outdoor Sports in the middle of the night on August 14, 2020. Although the facts surrounding Defendant's indictment come from the parties’ filings, they are not clearly outlined in any single pleading. Accordingly, the following explanation is not intended to be dispositive of the facts but to furnish the context necessary to address Defendant's motions.

A.

On August 14, 2020, at 3:35 AM, three people burgled 30 firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer. See ECF No. 1 at PageID.3. At the scene of the burglary, the police found the temporary license plate of a Chevrolet Cruze that belonged to Defendant's then-girlfriend,1 which led law enforcement to her house in Saginaw, Michigan. Id. at PageID.3–4. The criminal complaint alleges that, using air surveillance, law-enforcement officers saw Defendant at the house examining and selling firearms. Id. at PageID.5. They also located the car from the burglary, along with Defendant, who was wearing shorts and shoes similar to those worn by one of the burglars in the video recording of the burglary. Id. at PageID.5–6. Just before noon, Magistrate Judge David R. Grand issued a warrant for Defendant's arrest and seizure of the stolen firearms. See generally ECF No. 24-1 at PageID.98–97. The officers apprehended Defendant outside the house, in which they found 22 of the stolen firearms; in the Chevrolet Cruze, they found a pistol, ammunition, a hammer, and a crowbar with "fresh white paint on the end." ECF No. 1 at PageID.5–6.

After his arrest, Defendant sought to exclude a statement he made at his then-girlfriend's house during his arrest. See ECF No. 43 at PageID.187 (describing the conversation); see also ECF Nos. 23 (attempting to suppress the admission); 38 (same). As Defendant explained in his motion to suppress, while the police searched her house, they "held" him in a van in which he "requested to talk to [her] ... before he went to jail." ECF No. 23 at PageID.76. His then-girlfriend asked him, "[W]hy did you take off the license tags on the car at the gun store," and he replied that he "didn't." Id. While changing his shorts, which the officers wanted to collect as evidence, Defendant overheard the officers say that they recovered "18 of the 36" stolen firearms. Id. at PageID.76–77. Apparently, one of the officers then "reiterated to [Defendant] the importance of recovering the remaining firearms before anyone got hurt." Id. at PageID.77. In response, Defendant "excitedly said that the 18 guns in the bag in the yard were all that was taken, and if anyone said there were more than 18, then the gun store is just trying to get insurance money." Id. Defendant "immediately said that he knew that he incriminated himself, but that the guns in the bag were ‘on him’ and that was all that was taken." Id.

Four days later, Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel Attorney Jerome Sabbota filed an appearance on Defendant's behalf. See ECF No. 6.

Within a month, Defendant "advised Jerome Sabbota" that "he no longer wished Mr. Sabbota to represent him and [that] he will [be] suing him." ECF No. 11 at PageID.28. Citing a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship, Mr. Sabbota filed a motion to withdraw, id. , which Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris granted before appointing a federal community defender to represent Defendant, ECF No. 13. On September 25, 2020, CJA Attorney Stevens Jacobs filed an appearance to represent Defendant. ECF No. 15.

B.

After his arrest in early September 2020, Defendant was indicted for possession of firearms and ammunition by a prohibited person, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(e) ; possession, concealment, and sale of stolen firearms, id. § 922(j) ; and receipt of firearms and ammunition while under indictment, id. § 922(n). See ECF No. 12.

Through Mr. Jacobs, Defendant filed two motions: a motion to suppress his confession in December 2020, ECF No. 23, and a motion to quash the search warrant in January 2021, ECF No. 24. On February 17, 2017, Mr. Jacobs filed a motion to withdraw as Defendant's counsel, because Defendant told Mr. Jacobs that he was fired, as he did with Mr. Sabbota. See generally ECF No. 31. In essence, Defendant sent Mr. Jacobs a letter threatening not only to sue him "for malpractice" and "for violati[ng] his Constitutional rights to due process," but also to file a "grievance with the Attorney Grievance Commission as well as the Bar Association." Id. at PageID.125. Apparently, Defendant's main grievance was that Mr. Jacobs filed the motion to suppress and the motion to quash without Defendant's consent, despite Defendant's previous demands for Mr. Jacobs to file such motions. See id.

To protect Defendant's interests, on March 10, 2021, this Court held a hearing by Zoom videoconference (with Defendant's consent) on the Motion to Withdraw, Motion to Suppress, and Motion to Quash. United States v. White , No. 20-CR-20416, 2021 WL 1253385, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 5, 2021). The hearing was rescheduled to March 25, 2021, to provide Mr. Jacobs an opportunity to show Defendant various videos relevant to his charges. Id.

On March 23, 2021, while represented by counsel, Defendant filed the first four of the 15 pro-se motions he has filed since his arrest: (1) a motion to dismiss the indictment for violation of his speedy-trial rights, (2) a motion to suppress statements, (3) a motion for a bill of particulars, and (4) a motion for grand-jury transcripts. See ECF Nos. 37–40; see also ECF Nos. 54; 58–62; 67; 70; 80–82. The next day, the Government filed a superseding indictment, adding one count of theft of firearms from a licensed dealer, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 922(u). See ECF No. 36.

At the March 25, 2021 hearing, conducted on Zoom videoconferencing with his consent, Defendant indicated that he still wanted Mr. Jacobs to withdraw. White , 2021 WL 1253385, at *1. The undersigned "cautioned [Defendant] that based on counsel's explanation, Mr. Jacobs was effectively representing [Defendant]," so there was no legitimate reason to appoint a third attorney at the public's expense. Id. Defendant then explained that he wished to represent himself. Id. He also expressed that he "wished to withdraw the Motion to Suppress and Motion to Quash." Id. Defendant elaborated that he could adequately represent himself, as he had just filed four motions on his own. Id.

Consequently, the undersigned granted the second Motion to Withdraw on April 5, 2021, allowing Defendant to proceed pro se with Mr. Jacobs as standby counsel. Id. at *2. In the Order, this Court explained that (1) "[s]tandby counsel cannot assume control of [Defendant's] case" without Defendant's consent; (2) Defendant will "be allowed to control the organization and content of his defense"; (3) Defendant could "use the advice of standby counsel as he ... sees fit"; and (4) there is "no absolute bar on standby counsel's unsolicited participation of a pro se defendant's case before the jury." Id.

C.

In May 2021, this Court held a hearing on Defendant's four pending motions. During the hearing, the undersigned allowed Defendant to file supplemental briefing to support his speedy-trial motion, which he filed the same day. See ECF No. 53. The undersigned also granted Defendant's request to withdraw the motion to suppress. At the hearing, Defendant also filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. ECF No. 54. Finally, Defendant acknowledged the first superseding indictment. ECF No. 55.

In June 2021, Defendant filed a motion for placement transfer, ECF No. 58, three new motions to dismiss the first superseding indictment for alleged defects, ECF Nos. 59–61, and a motion to reinstate the motion to suppress that was withdrawn at his request, ECF No. 62 (seeking to reinstate ECF No. 23). The Government responded to all the motions, except the motion for transfer and the motion to reinstate. ECF Nos. 57; 63.

In July 2021, this Court docketed the transcript of the May 2021 hearing and scheduled a hearing for Defendant's June 2021 motions, to take place on August 18, 2021. ECF Nos. 65; 66.

On August 4, 2021, Defendant filed a motion to subpoena two people to appear at the August 18 hearing. ECF No. 67. On August 6, 2021, this Court issued an order explaining that it would decide Defendant's motions on the papers without a hearing, canceled the August 18 hearing, and denied Defendant's motion for subpoenas as moot. ECF No. 68. On August 12, 2021, the undersigned issued a written opinion denying all Defendant's pending motions. United States v. White , No. 1:20-CR-20416, 2021 WL 3560887, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 12, 2021) (denying ECF Nos. 37; 39; 54; 58; 59; 60; 61; 62), in ECF No. 69.

Four days later, Defendant filed an affidavit from his now-girlfriend, Yolanda Jones, regarding the events related to the previously denied motions. See ECF No. 71. Specifically, Ms. Jones swore under penalty of perjury that she "called attorney Stevens J. Jacobs for [Defendant] numerous times and left messages on his voice mail and spoke with his secretary...

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2 cases
  • United States v. White
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • 10 Marzo 2022
    ...complete investigation into this whole case." Id. at PageID.397.The motion to recuse was denied. See United States v. White , No. 1:20-CR-20416, 582 F.Supp.3d 525, 532-39 (E.D. Mich. 2022). Specifically, the Motion was denied under 28 U.S.C. § 144 for lack of a certificate of good faith and......
  • Nichols v. Dwyer
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • 11 Mayo 2023
    ...at 353 (punctuation modified). This failing is a sufficient basis for a denial of Nichols's motion on § 144 grounds. See id.; White, 582 F.Supp.3d at 533. even if the Court construed Akhtar's affidavit in the most liberal fashion-to allow for inclusion of a good-faith certification in the s......

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