The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., United States District Judge.
Timothy Hudspeth and others are charged in a one count indictment with
conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five
kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. On May
9, 2001, the United States moved to have Hudspeth detained without bond
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). Following a lengthy hearing,
Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson denied the United States' motion.
Applying well-established principles of law and taking into account a
rebuttable presumption that no condition or combination of conditions of
release would reasonably assure the safety of the community should
Hudspeth not be detained, Magistrate Judge Robinson concluded that the
United States had not carried its burden of showing that pretrial
detention was warranted. By oral motion, the United States immediately
moved to have this court review and revoke Magistrate Judge Robinson's
release order. The motion of the United States was denied in an oral
ruling made from the bench. This memorandum addresses important issues
implicated by the United States' effort to have Hudspeth detained*fn1
and sets forth the rationale for the court's decision.
On April 24, 2001, Hudspeth and co-defendants William Handy,
Christopher Hall, Donald Goodman, and Michael Zorn were indicted on one
count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute
five kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.
The Government proffers that these men participated in a scheme to
transport large quantities of cocaine from California to the Washington,
D.C. area. It is alleged that since February, 2001, they made four such
shipments, with the fourth containing 39 kilograms of cocaine powder. The
United States contends that defendants concealed the cocaine shipments by
transporting them with skin care merchandise from a
front company called
Skin Tight Products ("Skin Tight"). William Handy owns and operates Skin
Tight, while Hudspeth serves as its director of marketing. The United
States further proffers that Handy and Hudspeth used one of Skin Tight's
vans, a blue Toyota Previa, a vehicle fitted with a secret compartment,
to transport the cocaine across country.
Based on surveillance video and intercepted telephone calls, the
Government submits that Handy drove the Previa van to Hudspeth's home in
Compton, California, where it was loaded with 39 kilograms of cocaine
hidden in the van's secret compartment, along with 50 to 150 bottles of
Skin Tight merchandise. About a day and a half later, Donald Goodman and
Michael Zorn drove the van from Hudspeth's home in California to the
Washington, D.C. area. The Government proffers that Hudspeth was in
regular phone contact with Goodman and Zorn during the trip and that he
monitored their progress across the country.
Once the van arrived in the Washington, D.C. area, Handy and Hudspeth
flew from California to meet up with the van. But before Handy and
Hudspeth arrived at the meeting location, police authorities in
Frederick, Maryland stopped and searched the van, discovering the 39
kilograms of cocaine powder hidden in the van's secret compartment. Zorn
and Goodman were placed under arrest. Later, a police officer posing as
Zorn called Handy to indicate that Goodman had been arrested for a minor
traffic offense, but that he (the police officer disguised as Zorn) had
possession of the van and its contents. Zorn indicated that he could not
complete the drop off and that Handy and Hudspeth should travel to
Frederick, Maryland to get the van. Handy and Hudspeth drove together to
pick up the van, but were later arrested by police authorities. After the
arrests, police officials executed a search warrant at Hudspeth's
Compton, California home. Authorities seized $2,200 in cash, a heat
sealer, a digital scale, plastic bags, and two glass beakers. The
officers also found cocaine residue in the glass beakers.
Following a two-hour detention hearing, Magistrate Judge Robinson
concluded that "the Government had not carried its burden of proving by
clear and convincing evidence, even with the aid of the presumption, that
no condition or combination of conditions would reasonably assure the
safety of the community" if Hudspeth were released pending trial.
Transcript of Detention Hearing before Magistrate Judge Robinson at 80
(D.D.C. May 14, 2001) ("Hearing Transcript"). In lieu of detention,
Magistrate Judge Robinson released Hudspeth on a $25,000 unsecured
appearance bond and ordered that he be placed on electronic monitoring to
be supervised by the United States Probation Office in Los Angeles.
Magistrate Judge Robinson also set specific restrictions on Hudspeth's
Upon the oral request of an Assistant United States Attorney, this
court set a date and time for a hearing on the United States' motion for
review of the Magistrate Judge's release decision, and Magistrate Judge
Robinson stayed her order releasing Hudspeth until this court's decision
on the United States' review motion.
(a) Review of a release order. — If a person is
ordered released by a magistrate, or by a person other
than a judge of a court having original jurisdiction
over the offense . . .
(1) the attorney for the Government may file, with the court having
original jurisdiction over the offense, a motion for revocation of the
order or amendment of the conditions of release;
The motion shall be determined ...