US v. James Barker


UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 2:14-cr-00056-1 Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. [999627969].. [15-4108]

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Appeal: 15-4108 Doc: 20 Filed: 07/27/2015 Pg: 1 of 5 UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 15-4108 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. JAMES HARRY BARKER, Defendant - Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, at Charleston. Thomas E. Johnston, District Judge. (2:14-cr-00056-1) Submitted: July 23, 2015 Decided: July 27, 2015 Before NIEMEYER and KING, Circuit Judges, and HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. David O. Schles, THE LAW OFFICE OF DAVID SCHLES, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellant. Candace Haley Bunn, Assistant United States Attorney, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. Appeal: 15-4108 Doc: 20 Filed: 07/27/2015 Pg: 2 of 5 PER CURIAM: James sentence Harry imposed Barker appeals following his his guilty conviction plea to and 30-month conspiracy distribute heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (2012). to On appeal, Barker’s counsel has filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), asserting that there are no meritorious issues for appeal but questioning whether the court plainly erred in finding Barker competent to plead, and whether the court imposed a procedurally or substantively unreasonable sentence. Barker was notified of his right to file a pro se supplemental brief but has not done so. declined to file a response. The Government has For the reasons that follow, we affirm. Because Barker did not seek to withdraw his guilty plea in the district court, we review the plea hearing for plain error. United States v. Martinez, 277 F.3d 517, 527 (4th Cir. 2002). Under this standard, Barker bears the burden to demonstrate that (1) an error occurred, (2) the error was plain, (3) the error affected his substantial rights, and (4) we should exercise our discretion to note the error. Henderson v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 1121, 1126-27 (2013). It is axiomatic that, “[b]efore a court may accept a guilty plea, it must ensure that the defendant is competent to enter the plea.” United States v. Damon, 191 F.3d 561, 564 (4th Cir. 1999). 2 Appeal: 15-4108 Doc: 20 Filed: 07/27/2015 Pg: 3 of 5 A defendant is competent to plead if he “has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding” and also “has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.” United States v. Moussaoui, 591 F.3d 263, 291 (4th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). “When a response in a plea colloquy raises questions about the defendant’s state of mind, the court must broaden its inquiry to satisfy itself that the plea is being made knowingly and voluntarily.” United States v. Nicholson, 676 F.3d 376, 382 (4th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted). To succeed on his competency challenge, Barker must demonstrate that the district court “ignored facts raising a bona fide doubt regarding his competency,” such that the district court abused its discretion in accepting the plea. See Moussaoui, 591 F.3d at 291 (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted). Here, the court questioned Barker thoroughly regarding factors relevant to his competence, including his age; educational history; current use of medicines, drugs, and alcohol; and history of mental health or substance abuse treatment. colloquy revealed prescription that medicines, Barker was Barker’s and Although the plea illiterate his and counsel’s taking responses during the colloquy provided no basis to question Barker’s ability to understand the proceedings. We therefore find no error, plain or otherwise, in the district court’s competency determination. 3 Appeal: 15-4108 Doc: 20 Turning Filed: 07/27/2015 to Barker’s Pg: 4 of 5 sentencing challenge, we review a sentence for reasonableness, applying “a deferential abuse-ofdiscretion standard.” (2007). Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 41 We first “ensur[e] that the district court committed no significant procedural error,” including improper calculation of the Guidelines range, insufficient consideration of the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) (2012) sentence imposed. factors, and inadequate explanation of the United States v. Lynn, 592 F.3d 572, 575 (4th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). If we find no procedural error, we examine the substantive reasonableness of the sentence under “the totality of the circumstances.” U.S. at 51. Gall, 552 The sentence imposed must be “sufficient, but not greater than necessary,” to satisfy the goals of sentencing. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). See We presume that a within-Guidelines sentence is substantively reasonable. United States v. Louthian, 756 F.3d 295, 306 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 135 S. Ct. 421 (2014). Barker bears the burden to rebut this presumption “by showing that the sentence is unreasonable when measured against the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors.” Id. We discern no error in the court’s sentence. The court properly calculated the Sentencing Guidelines range, considered the parties’ arguments and Barker’s request for a variance, and provided a reasoned explanation for the sentence it imposed, grounded in the § 3553(a) factors. 4 Further, Barker fails to rebut Appeal: 15-4108 Doc: 20 Filed: 07/27/2015 Pg: 5 of 5 the presumption of substantive reasonableness accorded his withinGuidelines sentence. In accordance with Anders, we have reviewed the record in this case and have found no meritorious issues for appeal. therefore affirm Barker’s conviction and sentence. We This court requires that counsel inform Barker, in writing, of the right to petition the Supreme Court of the United States for further review. If Barker requests that a petition be filed, but counsel believes that such a petition would be frivolous, then counsel may move in this court for leave to withdraw from representation. Counsel’s motion must state that a copy thereof was served on Barker. We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process. AFFIRMED 5

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