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Vest v. United States

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS


November 06, 2003

BEREN VEST, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE.

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (F-4090-99) (Hon. Robert E. Morin, Trial Judge)

Before Wagner, Chief Judge, Farrell, Associate Judge, and King, Senior Judge.

Per curiam

Submitted October 23, 2003

Appellant pled guilty to contempt, D.C. Code § 11-944 (a) (2001), based on his disobedience of an order entered by then-Magistrate Judge Macaluso requiring him, as a condition of pretrial release, to stay away from a specific block of Southeast Washington, D.C. His primary argument on appeal *fn1 is that violation of a condition of release set by a Superior Court magistrate judge (formerly known as a "hearing commissioner") is not a crime punishable under § 11- 944 (a). We reject that argument.

Pretrial release (or detention) in criminal cases is governed generally by Title 23 of the District of Columbia Code. D.C. Code § 23-1321 (a) (2001) permits "a judicial officer" to set conditions of pretrial release. Citing § 23-1331 (1), which defines "judicial officer," appellant argues that Superior Court magistrate judges do not fall within that definition. He is mistaken. Although the statute does not expressly include magistrate judges among those "authorized . . . to bail or otherwise release a person before trial," it recognizes that the meaning of "judicial officer" may be "otherwise indicated" -- i.e., indicated by another statutory provision. D.C. Code § 11-1732 (j)(2) expressly authorizes magistrate judges to "[d]etermine conditions of release pursuant to the provisions of Title 23 . . . ." See generally Canada v. Management P'ship, Inc., 618 A.2d 715, 717 (D.C. 1993) (§ 11-1732 is a "direct statutory grant of jurisdiction to [magistrate judges]"). Magistrate judges are therefore judicial officers within the meaning of § 23-1331 (1). Appellant's reliance on the failure of the statute expressly to mention magistrate judges would, in effect, render § 11-1732 (j)(2) a nullity by making it unenforceable through contempt. See Veney v. United States, 681 A.2d 428, 433 (D.C. 1996) (en banc) (where possible, a statute should be construed to give effect to all of its provisions); Carey v. Crane Serv. Co., 457 A.2d 1102, 1108 (D.C. 1983) ("Statutory provisions are to be construed not in isolation, but together with other related provisions"), citing United Mine Workers of Am. v. Andrus, 189 U.S. App. D.C. 110, 114, 581 F.2d 888, 892 (1978). *fn2

Appellant's related arguments are equally without merit. D.C. Code § 11-944 (a) was a proper vehicle for prosecuting him for violation of the magistrate judge's stay away order, even though he might have been prosecuted as well under D.C. Code § 23-1329. See Caldwell v. United States, 595 A.2d 961, 965 (D.C. 1991). Further, since § 11-944 (a) permits "a judge [of the Superior Court]" to punish for disobedience of a court order, and Judge Morin is a judge of the Superior Court (not a magistrate judge), appellant was properly convicted upon his plea of guilty.

Affirmed.


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