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United States v. Cooke

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 5, 2017

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Dwight Deron Cooke Defendant-Appellant United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Maria Elena Cantu, also known as Maria Cantu Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: November 14, 2016

         Appeals from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa - Davenport

          Before COLLOTON, BEAM, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

          BEAM, Circuit Judge.

         Dwight Cooke and Maria Elena Cantu were convicted of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), and 846. Their convictions arose out of the same investigation and their cases have been consolidated on appeal. They each challenge aspects of their pretrial detention, conviction, and sentencing, and we now affirm the district court.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         State and local law enforcement officers investigated a drug-trafficking ring in Davenport, Iowa, in November and December of 2014. The investigation involved several controlled buys and revealed a chain of distribution with Cantu at the top, supplying methamphetamine and other narcotics, and Cooke at the bottom, selling to users. State search warrants were issued in December 2014, authorizing searches of the residences of the ring members. On January 16, 2015, a federal complaint was filed before a federal magistrate judge charging Cooke, Cantu, and two others with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The magistrate judge issued federal arrest warrants for the conspirators in that case, case 3:15-mj-6. Because Cooke's and Cantu's claims are distinct and pertain to their respective circumstances, we outline the facts of their cases separately.

         A. Cooke

         On January 23, 2015, Cooke called the Davenport Police Department and stated he would turn himself in at 7:30 p.m. that evening. He then called his girlfriend and requested that he see his son because he was going to jail later that day. When he met his girlfriend, his son was not with her. The couple argued, and Cooke then assaulted his girlfriend with a scalpel, attempting to cut her throat. He missed, instead cutting her from the corner of her mouth to her cheek. He then stole her vehicle and fled, and failing to turn himself in that evening, remained at large. On February 4, 2015, the Iowa District Court for Scott County issued an arrest warrant for Cooke for a charge of "Willful Injury - Causing Bodily Injury" for the assault on his girlfriend. On February 18, 2015, a state bench warrant was issued for Cooke's having violated a protective order prohibiting him from contacting his girlfriend. That same day, Cooke was arrested by Davenport police officers and U.S. Marshals. The arresting state officer read all three warrants-the state arrest and bench warrants and the federal 3:15-mj-6 warrant-to Cooke. Also on February 18, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Iowa indicted Cooke, Cantu, and the other conspirators on federal conspiracy charges. The indictment was filed in case 3:15-cr-15, and a federal arrest warrant for Cooke in that case was issued that day, but not executed. Cooke was held in Scott County Jail, and the U.S. Marshals Service issued a writ of detainer against him. On April 24, 2015, Cooke was transferred to federal custody, a U.S. Marshal executed the 3:15-cr-15 warrant, and Cooke appeared before a federal magistrate judge for the Southern District of Iowa. Cooke filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the amount of time between his February 18 arrest and his April 24 appearance violated both Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5(a)(1)(A) and the Sixth Amendment. The district court dismissed the motion.

         Cooke's trial date was initially set for June 8, 2015, but the district court continued trial to August 17, noting, "There is voluminous discovery and a failure to grant continuance will deny reasonable time necessary for adequate preparation for trial even with the exercise of due diligence by the parties." Trial was continued again, over Cooke's objection, to August 24 due to the district court's trial schedule. On August 13, the district court granted another sixty-day continuance in order for Cooke's new counsel to prepare for trial, now set for October 26. On October 16, Cooke pled guilty to the federal conspiracy charge.

         At the sentencing hearing, there was discussion about whether Cooke's assault on his girlfriend was relevant conduct. See U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 1B1.3 (hereinafter U.S.S.G. or Guidelines). At this time Cooke had been convicted in state court on charges arising from the assault on his girlfriend, but he had not yet been sentenced. Although the district court believed the assault was relevant, it granted the parties' request that it be treated as nonrelevant. As a consequence, Cooke was safety-valve eligible, but the assault added a point to his criminal history and his federal sentence would be eligible to run consecutively with the anticipated sentence on the state charges. U.S.S.G. §§ 4A1.1(c), 4A1.2(a)(4), 5C1.2, 5G1.3(c). After establishing a criminal-history category of I and a Guidelines advisory range of 46 to 57 months, the district court departed upward to an advisory range of 57 to 71 months on the basis of an underrepresented criminal history. Id. § 4A1.3. The district court was concerned with two convictions too old to be counted in calculating Cooke's criminal-history category under Guidelines § 4A1.2(e)(1). The first was a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend and the mother of his children. Cooke used a twisted T-shirt to repeatedly choke her and punched her in the face. The presentence investigation report (PSIR) also noted that Cooke subsequently violated a no-contact order by visiting the woman's apartment. The second was a conviction for burglary, in which Cooke kicked in another woman's door, threatened to kill her, and fled from police officers. In addition, the district court was concerned with Cooke's conviction for the January 2015 assault described above. That conviction garnered only one point because Cooke had not yet been sentenced, id. § 4A1.2(a)(4), but the district court considered it a "horrific" incident and "by far the most serious offense." This, combined with the fact that officers had to tase Cooke during his February 18, 2015, arrest, led the district court to conclude that a criminal-history category of III was more appropriate.

         The district court then varied upward to 96 months on the basis of the 2015 assault. Although it had accepted the parties' suggestion to treat the 2015 assault as nonrelevant conduct for purposes of determining the applicable Guidelines range, it noted that it was "firmly convinced" that the assault was, in fact, relevant. The district court stated that "if it were relevant conduct, we would have had a very different calculation." It considered the assault for purposes of its analysis under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), stating the treatment of the assault under the Guidelines was "essentially [a] sentencing concession[] made by the government that I am allowed to consider in deciding a fair and appropriate sentence." It stated that although the State would be permitted to order a sentence on the assault charges to run consecutive to the federal sentence, the district court's experience with Iowa state and federal prosecutions led it to believe that Cooke would likely be paroled quickly to serve his federal sentence. It also noted the high quantity and purity of the drugs involved. The district court therefore varied upward to what it would have sentenced Cooke to if it had considered the 2015 assault relevant conduct, and it ordered that sentence to be served concurrently with the anticipated state sentence. Cooke appeals the district court's denial of his motion to dismiss and sentencing.

         B. Cantu

         Cantu was arrested on January 17, 2015, and made her initial appearance on the 20th. She was indicted on February 18, 2015, and trial was set for May 4. On Cantu's motion, the trial was continued to June 8, 2015. In its order the district court specified that "[t]he time of the delay shall constitute excludable time under the Speedy Trial Act." On May 14 and on defendants' motion, trial was again continued to August 17, the district court again specifying that the time of delay was excludable under the Speedy Trial Act. On July 1 the district court continued trial to August 24 due to its conflicting trial schedules. On August 13 and on motion by Cooke, unresisted by Cantu, the trial was continued again to October 26, and again the district court noted the delay was excludable for Speedy Trial Act purposes. Cantu's counsel moved to withdraw and so trial was continued to November 30, 2015, and again the district court specified the delay was excludable under the Speedy Trial Act. ...


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