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United States v. Warden

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 6, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROBERT WESLEY WARDEN, Defendant-Appellant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Edward J. Lodge States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court in the above entitled matter is Defendant Robert Wesley Warden's appeal of Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale's final judgment finding him guilty of the five counts in the Superseding Indictment. (Dkt. 59, 73.)

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The charges in this case stem from events occurring at around 10:00 p.m. on September 15, 2012 when the Lewis County, Idaho's emergency dispatch received a 911 call reporting a domestic disturbance at a residence located in Kamiah, Idaho within the external boundaries of the Nez Perce Reservation. (Dkt. 106, Govt. Exs. 3, 3A.) The two adults involved in the altercation, Mr. Warden and Pennie Moffett, are both members of the Nez Perce Tribe. (Dkt. 106, Govt. Ex. 1.) Dispatch reported the call to the Nez Perce Tribal Police (NPTP) and Kamiah Marshals Office. The NPTP Officers on duty that night, Officers Kendall Bowser and Kirtus Gaston, were located some distance away from the residence when they received the call from dispatch and were unable to respond quickly. Given the urgent nature of the call, NPTP Officer Bowser requested that Kamiah Marshal Matthew Taylor respond to the scene until the NPTP Officers could arrive.

         Marshal Taylor responded to the reported location to find Ms. Moffett had blood and bruises on her face and a knot on her forehead. Marshal Taylor also noted that Ms. Moffett's two daughters, who were present at the scene, were upset and crying. Ms. Moffett reported to Marshal Taylor that Mr. Warden had grabbed her, threw her to the ground, kicked her in the face, and then pushed one of her daughters before leaving. Mr. Warden was no longer at the residence at that time. Marshal Taylor decided to remain at the home until the NPTP Officers arrived.

         Several minutes later, Mr. Warden returned to the home. Marshal Taylor confronted Mr. Warden and told him that he was being detained until the NPTP Officers arrived. (Dkt. 106, Govt. Exs. 6, 6A.) Mr. Warden then began walking towards the residence where Ms. Moffett and her daughters were located. Marshal Taylor directed Mr. Warden to not approach the residence or individuals. Mr. Warden continued walking towards the residence. Marshal Taylor grabbed Mr. Warden's arms and told Mr. Warden he was going to handcuff him. Mr. Warden resisted and a physical struggle ensued between Marshal Taylor and Mr. Warden. During the struggle, Mr. Warden attempted to bite the Marshal. The two eventually separated and verbally agreed to wait for the NPTP Officers to arrive. The NPTP Officers arrived soon thereafter and handcuffed Mr. Warden placing him under arrest.

         Mr. Warden was placed in the NPTP Officers' patrol car where he began kicking the interior of the vehicle and yelling. (Dkt. 106, Govt. Exs. 11, 11A.) When the NPTP Officers went to open the car's door to talk to him, Mr. Warden kicked the door causing it to strike the Officers. The NPTP Officers attempted to further restrain Mr. Warden who continued to kick, bite, spit, and threaten the officers. Mr. Warden was eventually arrested and taken to jail by the NPTP Officers.

         On September 17, 2012, the Nez Perce Tribal Prosecutor charged Mr. Warden with resisting and obstructing arrest, battery on a tribal officer, domestic violence, and battery on an officer. (Dkt. 106, Govt. Ex. 2.) The tribal charges were later dismissed on April 18, 2013. (Dkt. 106, Govt. Ex. 2.) On August 20, 2013, the Government filed the Indictment in this case charging Mr. Warden with assault of Marshal Taylor in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 113(a)(5) and 1152. (Dkt. 1.) A Superseding Indictment was filed on November 19, 2013 which added charges against Mr. Warden alleging he assaulted both of the NPTP Officers. (Dkt. 13.)

         CJA counsel was appointed to represent Mr. Warden. (Dkt. 25, 26.) On May 6-7, 2014, a bench trial was held before Magistrate Judge Dale where Mr. Warden was found guilty on all five counts. (Dkt. 44, 45.) On August 27, 2014, the Court held a sentencing hearing at which Mr. Warden elected to represent himself. (Dkt. 57.)[1] The Court sentenced Mr. Warden to four months custody on each of Counts one through four, to run concurrently, and six months custody on Count five, to run consecutively, for a total of ten months incarceration. (Dkt. 57, 58.) Mr. Warden filed his pro se Notice of Appeal on September 8, 2014. (Dkt. 59.)[2] CJA counsel was appointed to represent Mr. Warden in the appeal proceedings. (Dkt. 75.)[3] The parties have fully briefed the appeal and this Court finds as follows. (Dkt. 73, 101, 102, 105, 107.)

         STANDARD ON APPEAL

         The United States Magistrate Judge had original federal jurisdiction over this action, a Class B Misdemeanor, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3401. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction over the appeal pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 58(g)(2)(B) and (D) and Local Criminal Rule 58.2. “The scope of appeal is the same as in an appeal to the court of appeals from a judgment entered by a district judge” Fed. R. Crim. Proc. 58(g)(2)(D)(“The defendant is not entitled to a trial de novo by a district judge. The scope of the appeal is the same as in an appeal to the court of appeals from a judgment entered by a district judge.”); Local Criminal Rule 58.2 “Actual findings of the trial court which have been expressed in findings of fact and conclusions of law are subject to a clearly erroneous standard of review.” United States v. Doremus, 658 F.Supp. 752, 754 (D. Idaho 1987) (citing United States v. Bautista, 509 F.2d 675 (9th Cir. 1975). “Questions of law are subject to de novo review.” Id. (citing United States v. Nance, 666 F.2d 353 (9th Cir. 1982).[4] Stated differently, this Court reviews de novo a magistrate judge's legal conclusions and reviews any underlying factual findings for clear error. Quinn v. Robinson, 783 F.2d 776, 791 (9th Cir.1986); Fed. R. Crim. P. 58(g)(2)(D). The challenged judgment is reversible only if it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See United States v. Ramirez, 555 F.Supp. 736, 738-39 (E.D. Cal. 1983); United States v. Li, 510 F.Supp. 276, 277 (D. Haw. 1981).

         DISCUSSION

         1. Subject ...


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