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United States v. Ferrell

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 13, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOYCE DAWN FERRELL, Defendant. Re Document No. 19

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR EARLY TERMINATION OF PROBATION

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge.

         This case comes before the Court following Defendant Joyce Dawn Ferrell's request for early termination of her probation. After considering Ms. Ferrell's letter and the responses of the United States and the Probation Office for the District of Columbia, the Court will deny Ms. Ferrell's request. However, the Court will permit Ms. Ferrell to resubmit her request through the Probation Office for the District of Columbia six months after the date of this Memorandum & Order.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 9, 2014, Ms. Ferrell pled guilty to a single count of Theft of Government Property, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641. See Min. Entry (Jan. 9, 2014); Plea Agreement, ECF No. 3. The Statement of Offense agreed to by Ms. Ferrell and the United States explains that Ms. Ferrell made unauthorized purchases at the Naval Research Laboratory's commissary store and then sold those items, including tools and computer equipment, at pawn shops in Virginia and Maryland. See Statement of Offense at 1, ECF No. 4. The total loss to the United States was $26, 029.34. See Id. at 2.

         The Court held a sentencing hearing on April 10, 2014. See Min. Entry (Apr. 10, 2014). The Court considered the Presentence Investigation Report (ECF No. 11), the Probation Office's sentencing recommendation (ECF No. 12), the sentencing memoranda filed by the United States and Ms. Ferrell (ECF Nos. 13, 15), and the parties' oral arguments. After balancing the factors found in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), the Court imposed a sentence of 48 months of probation with various conditions and ordered restitution in the amount of $26, 029.34. See Judgment at 2-4, ECF No. 17.

         After serving more than two years of her sentence, Ms. Ferrell sent the Court a letter requesting the early termination of her probation. See Letter from Joyce Ferrell (Sept. 28, 2016), ECF No. 19. Ms. Ferrell states that she cannot be considered for certain advancement opportunities at work while she is on probation, but that those opportunities would allow her to pay restitution in an accelerated manner. See Id. at 1. Ms. Ferrell states that she has “a stable place in the community” and that she complied with the terms of her probation, including completing required counseling. See id.

         The Court ordered the Probation Office for the District of Columbia to submit a report addressing Ms. Ferrell's request and describing her compliance with the terms of her supervision, including the status of her restitution payments. See Min. Order (Nov. 4, 2016). The Court also ordered the United States to state its position on Ms. Ferrell's request for early termination of her probation. Id.

         The United States opposes Ms. Ferrell's request. See Gov't's Opp'n to Def.'s Pro Se Mot. For Early Termination of Probation (“Gov't's Opp'n”), ECF No. 21. In its response to the Court's Order, the United States objects to early termination of Ms. Ferrell's probation because she has not yet paid the full amount of restitution ordered by the Court. Id. ¶ 6.

         The Probation Office for the District of Columbia also filed a memorandum in response to the Court's Order. See Probation Mem., ECF No. 22.[1] The memorandum notes that the Probation Office for the District of Maryland supervises Ms. Ferrell. That office believes that Ms. Ferrell does not pose a specific threat to the community and it does not oppose Ms. Ferrell's request for termination of her probation.

         The memorandum also states that in cases where an offender has displayed exemplary conduct or made an outstanding adjustment to supervision, the Probation Office for the District of Columbia may recommended reduced subversion or termination of supervised release. The memorandum concludes that Ms. Ferrell's adjustment to supervision has been satisfactory, but does not exceed expectations. The memorandum notes that Ms. Ferrell got off to a slow start making restitution payments, and although she has developed a routine of making payments and has caught up on arrearages, the Probation Office for the District of Columbia believes that Ms. Ferrell's conduct does not demonstrate a full commitment to satisfying her restitution obligations. For these reasons, the Probation Office for the District of Columbia does not recommend early termination of Ms. Ferrell's supervision.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Early termination of probation is governed by 18 U.S.C. § 3564(c), which requires the court to consider factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), to the extent they are applicable.[2] The section 3553 sentencing factors include: (1) the characteristics of the offense and the defendant; (2) whether the sentence reflects the seriousness of the offense, deters other criminal conduct, protects the public, and rehabilitates the defendant; (3) the other available sentences; (4) the sentences and applicable sentencing range for the defendant's crime; (5) pertinent policy statements provided by the Sentencing Commission; (6) the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities; and (7) the need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(1)-(7). A court must ensure that the sentence imposed is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to accomplish the goals of sentencing. Id. § 3553(a). After considering the 3553(a) factors, the court may “terminate a term of probation previously ordered and discharge the defendant . . . if it is satisfied that such action is warranted by the conduct of the defendant released and the interest of justice.” 18 U.S.C. § 3564(c).

         In the analogous context of a request for early termination of supervised release pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(1), [3] the D.C. Circuit has held that a district court must consider the 3553(a) factors before denying a motion for early termination. See United States v. Mathis-Gardner, 783 F.3d 1286, 1288 (D.C. Cir. 2015). Although a district court need not provide an explanation of that consideration “where the reasons for denying the motion are apparent from the record, ” id. at 1289, the court should “provide some indication of [its] reasons” where the defendant has presented a substantial argument that changed circumstances render a previously imposed sentence inappropriate, id. at 1289-90. Because this ...


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