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United States v. Briggs

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 12, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
Garron T. Briggs, Defendant - Appellant

          Submitted November 20, 2015

         Petition for certiorari filed at, 06/03/2016

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.

         For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: James Curt Bohling, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Stefan C. Hughes, Philip M. Koppe, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Kansas City, MO.

         Garron T. Briggs, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Leavenworth, KS.

         For Garron T. Briggs, Defendant - Appellant: John Justin Johnston, JOHNSTON LAW FIRM, LLC, Kansas City, MO.

         Before COLLOTON, GRUENDER, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

Page 918

          COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

         Garron Briggs pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and to distribution of cocaine. After a presentence report recommended an enhanced advisory guideline sentence based on a pending murder charge in state court, Briggs moved to withdraw his guilty plea. The district court[1] determined that Briggs's plea was knowing and voluntary, denied the motion, and sentenced Briggs to 300 months' imprisonment. On appeal, Briggs argues that the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. He also contends for the first time that the sentencing enhancement under the guidelines violated his Sixth Amendment rights. We reject his claims and affirm.

         I.

         In September 2012, a grand jury charged Briggs with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of crack cocaine. In June 2014, Briggs pleaded guilty to both counts without any plea agreement. At the time of his guilty plea in the federal case, Briggs had been charged in Jackson County, Missouri, with several state criminal violations, including a count of first-degree murder stemming from an alleged drug-related robbery. State v. Briggs, No. 1116-CR03745-01 (Mo. Cir. Ct. filed Sept. 2, 2011). At Briggs's change-of-plea hearing, his attorney explained that Briggs was pleading guilty in an effort to avoid sentencing enhancements based on the state charges and with the hope that the state court would impose a sentence concurrent to Briggs's federal sentence.

         In his plea colloquy, Briggs admitted that he was guilty of both federal charges. The court advised Briggs about the rights he was waiving, the statutory minimum and maximum penalties for each offense, and the process by which an advisory guideline range would be calculated. On questioning by his attorney, Briggs acknowledged that he could not " withdraw [the plea] if we don't like how that presentence report comes out." The district court accepted Briggs's plea, finding that there was a factual basis for Briggs's guilt, that Briggs made the plea knowingly and voluntarily, and that there was not probable cause to believe his counsel was ineffective.

         The probation office then prepared a presentence investigation report. The applicable sentencing guideline for Briggs's offenses of conviction is U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1. Section 2D1.1(d)(1) contains a cross-reference providing that, if a victim died under circumstances that would constitute first-degree murder under 18 U.S.C. § 1111, the district court should apply U.S.S.G. § 2A1.1 if the resulting ...


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