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United States v. Meshigaud

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division

May 22, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
PETER LOUIS MESHIGAUD, Defendant.

          HON. JANET T. NEFF, JUDGE.

          ORDER

          TIMOTHY P. GREELEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Defendant Peter Louis Meshigaud is alleged to have violated the conditions of his supervised release when he committed a domestic assault upon J.M. on or about July 23, 2018, and when he sexually assaulted J.M. on or about August 11, 2018. On March 13, 2019, the undersigned held a hearing to determine: (1) whether there is probable cause that Defendant committed the alleged violations, and (2) whether Defendant should be detained pending the resolution of the supervised released violation petition. For the reasons stated below, the undersigned finds that probable cause exists, and orders Defendant detained.

         Prior to addressing the issues before the undersigned, it is necessary to summarize the unique procedural posture of this case. In 2014, Defendant pled guilty in this Court to Domestic Violence - Habitual Offender. United States District Judge R. Allan Edgar sentenced Defendant to 60 months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release. On February 23, 2018, Defendant began his term of supervision. Defendant did not appear to have any violations until October 23, 2018, when a grand jury returned a four-count indictment against him. See United States v. Peter Louis Meshigaud, No. 2:18-cr-43 (W.D. Mich.). The indictment charged Defendant with two counts of Domestic Assault - Habitual Offender, one count Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and one count Aggravated Sexual Abuse by Force or Threat. The next day, Defendant was arrested and arraigned on the indictment. On October 24, the undersigned entered an Order of Detention, which explained that the Government had filed a motion for detention, pretrial services had recommended detention, and defense counsel reserved the issue of detention until she had time to consult with Defendant and research the case.

         Shortly thereafter, on October 26, the United States Probation Office filed in this case a Petition for Warrant for Offender Under Supervision. The petition alleged two violations of the general condition that Defendant shall not commit another federal, state, or local crime. The two alleged violations were based on Count 3 and Count 4 of the indictment in the criminal case. Count 3 alleged that Defendant committed a domestic assault upon J.M. on or about July 23, 2018. Count 4 alleged that Defendant sexually assaulted J.M. on or about August 11, 2018. United States District Judge Janet Neff signed the petition and ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant. The record reflects that the warrant was executed on October 29. An initial appearance on the supervised release violation petition did not initially occur because Plaintiff was being detained on the new criminal charges. Defense counsel informed the Court that she wanted the supervised release violation matter held in abeyance until after the resolution of the new indictment.

         Over the next several months, the criminal case proceeded. In March 2019, the case was set for a jury trial in Marquette before Judge Neff. Unfortunately, a few days before the trial was supposed to occur, it was adjourned because of an issue with the physical structure of the courtroom. On March 5, the criminal case was set for a jury trial in Grand Rapids on April 9 before U.S. District Judge Gordon J. Quist.

         Meanwhile, on March 7, the undersigned held an initial appearance on the supervised release violation. At this hearing, the undersigned explained that Defendant could not be released in this case because he was being detained in the criminal case. Thus, Defendant reserved the issue of detention pending the resolution of the criminal case.

         On March 15, U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip Green held a video status conference in the criminal case and, after a short discussion with the parties, set the case for a jury trial in Marquette on May 7 before U.S. District Judge Terrance G. Berg.[1] Jury selection began the morning of May 7. But before jury selection was completed, the Government informed Judge Berg that J.M. had left the courthouse and was no longer willing to testify at trial. The Government further informed Judge Berg that it was not willing to compel J.M. to testify. Therefore, at the Government's request, Judge Berg dismissed the indictment without prejudice.[2] Defendant was not released, however, because of the pending supervised release petition.

         Later that afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Maarten Vermaat held a status conference on the supervised release violation and, at Defendant's request, set it for a detention and preliminary hearing on May 9. The detention and preliminary hearing was subsequently adjourned and rescheduled to May 13 before the undersigned.

         On May 13, the undersigned held the detention and preliminary hearing. Unlike the jury trial the week prior, J.M. appeared at this hearing and testified. In addition, the undersigned heard testimony from FBI Special Agent John Fortunato, U.S. Probation Officer Matt Luce, and Defendant's father-Reginald Meshigaud.

         There are two issues before the undersigned. First, the undersigned must determine whether there is probable cause that Defendant committed the alleged supervised release violations. Second, the undersigned must determine whether Defendant should be released or detained pending the resolution of the supervised release violation petition.[3]

         Rule 32.1(b)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a magistrate judge must promptly conduct a hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a violation occurred.

         In this case, the undersigned finds that there is probable cause to believe that the violations occurred. This finding is primarily based on the testimony of J.M., as the undersigned finds J.M.'s testimony to be reasonably credible. J.M. testified about the domestic assault that occurred in July 2018, and the sexual assault that occurred in August 2018. She also testified about her relationship with Defendant. They have three children together including twins that were born in July 2018. J.M. was the victim in at least two of Defendant's prior domestic assault convictions. At the hearing, J.M. was able to recount the domestic assault in July 2018 and the sexual assault in August 2018 with sufficient specificity.

         Although defense counsel proffered that she has plenty of witnesses who could establish that J.M. is not credible, those witnesses and the substance of their purported testimony were not presented at the hearing. J.M. showed up at this hearing and testified about the assaults, and the undersigned finds her testimony to be credible. Therefore, the ...


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