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UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed.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. .. [15-4108]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff - Appellee,
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)
July 23, 2015
July 27, 2015
Before NIEMEYER and KING, Circuit Judges, and HAMILTON, Senior
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.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Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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distribute heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (2012).
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
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
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
United States v. Damon, 191 F.3d 561, 564 (4th Cir. 1999).
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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
“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).
succeed on his competency challenge, Barker must demonstrate that
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).
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.
Although the plea
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.
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sentence for reasonableness, applying “a deferential abuse-ofdiscretion standard.”
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.
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.
The sentence imposed must be “sufficient, but not
greater than necessary,” to satisfy the goals of sentencing.
18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).
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).
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.”
We discern no error in the court’s sentence.
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.
Further, Barker fails to rebut
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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.
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.
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.
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