Argued Jan. 9, 2014.
Joel R. Davidson, for appellant Lurisa Lindsay.
David Carey Woll, Bethesda, MD, for appellant Terrance Dean Davis.
Kristina L. Ament, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman and John P. Mannarino, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.
Before FISHER and BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY, Associate Judges, and KING, Senior Judge.
FISHER, Associate Judge.
Following a bench trial, appellants Lurisa Lindsay and Terrance Dean Davis were found guilty of simple assault, and both were sentenced to periods of incarceration. They seek resentencing by a different judge, complaining that the trial court warned them, prior to trial, that if they rejected the deferred sentencing agreements offered by the government and were convicted of assault, they would assuredly be sent to jail. The government agrees that " these cases should be remanded to a different judge for resentencing."
By a judgment entered on January 10, 2014, we vacated appellants' sentences and remanded their cases for resentencing, without delay, by a different judge. This opinion explains our decision.
I. Factual Background
Appellants, along with codefendant Rose Lindsay (who was acquitted at trial), appeared before the trial court on April 13, 2012, for a status hearing. At the court's request, the government placed its plea offers, which included deferred sentencing agreements, on the record. Rose Lindsay's counsel promptly rejected the offer extended to her, which was " wired" to the offer made to appellant Lurisa Lindsay.
In response, the judge made an announcement:
I want to make sure that everybody's clear on this, and this would apply to all three defendants. All three of you are charged with a count of Simple Assault, as to the complaining witness here, and if there is a rejection of the plea offer and, therefore, no deferred sentencing agreement, and your clients go to trial on the Simple Assault and you're convicted on that count, there really isn't a question of whether there will be jail time because there will be. The question is how much jail time I will impose, and each one of you is exposed to ... 180 days in jail.
The trial court further explained:
I want everybody here who's in a position of rejecting a deferred sentencing agreement and going forward with a trial; ...