US v. Travis Bare
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Motion disposition in opinion--denying Motion to withdraw/relieve/substitute counsel [1000027190-3]. Originating case number: 5:15-cr-00052-RLV-DSC-1. Copies to all parties and the district court/agency . [16-4748]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff - Appellee,
TRAVIS LAYDEN BARE,
Defendant - Appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina,
at Statesville. Richard L. Voorhees, District Judge. (5:15-cr-00052-RLV-DSC-1)
Submitted: May 9, 2017
Decided: May 17, 2017
Before MOTZ, KING, and AGEE, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
David Alan Brown, Sr., Rock Hill, South Carolina, for Appellant. Amy Elizabeth Ray,
Assistant United States Attorney, Asheville, North Carolina, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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In accordance with a written plea agreement, Travis Layden Bare pled guilty to
conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B), 846 (2012). He was sentenced to 60 months in prison.
Bare appeals. Counsel has filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738
(1967), raising several issues but concluding that there are no valid grounds for appeal.
Bare was advised of his right to file a pro se supplemental brief but has not filed such a
brief. We affirm.
Bare contends that the United States violated Justice Department policy and due
process by requiring him to plead guilty to an offense carrying a mandatory minimum
sentence. The 2013 policy statement urged prosecutors in certain cases to decline to
charge the quantity of drugs necessary to trigger the statutory mandatory minimum.
Because Bare did not raise this issue below, our review is for plain error. See
United States v. Rangel, 781 F.3d 736, 745 (4th Cir. 2015). To establish plain error, Bare
must show that an error occurred, the error was plain, and it affected his substantial
rights. See United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725, 732 (1993). We will not exercise our
discretion to correct plain error unless the error “seriously affect[ed] the fairness,
integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings.” Id
Bare’s claim lacks merit. Government policy statements, unless mandated by the
Constitution or statute, do not confer any rights or privileges on an individual defendant.
United States v. Caceres, 440 U.S. 741, 749 (1979); United States v. Thompson, 579 F.2d
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1184, 1189 (10th Cir. 1978). There is no constitutional provision or statute that requires
a prosecutor to charge an offender with a crime that does not carry a mandatory
Bare claims that the district court erred when it assigned two criminal history
points for his 2009 convictions of misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon and felony
possession of methamphetamine and two points for his 2010 conviction of misdemeanor
defrauding drug and alcohol screening. For the 2009 convictions, Bare received a
suspended sentence of five-six months and 18 months’ probation. At sentencing for the
2010 offense, the court: sentenced Bare to 120 days in jail for the drug screening offense;
and revoked his probation for the 2009 offenses and reinstated his suspended sentence.
Bare’s position is that he should have received only two points because, arguendo,
he received a consolidated sentence for the 2009 and 2010 offenses. If he is correct, he
would have only three criminal history points, placing him in criminal history category II.
This would have reduced his Guidelines range from 70-87 months to 63-78 months.
This issue also was not raised below, and our review is for plain error. See Olano,
507 U.S. at 732. If the district court did mistakenly assign four criminal history points
instead of two, Bare cannot show that the error affected his substantial rights. Ordinarily,
a defendant can make such a showing by simply demonstrating that he received a
sentence under an incorrect, higher Guidelines range. Molina-Martinez v. United States,
136 S. Ct. 1338, 1347 (2016). However, the 60-month sentence Bare received—the
statutory minimum—fell below both Guidelines ranges. The district court was not at
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liberty to sentence Bare to less than 60 months because the Government did not file an 18
U.S.C. § 3553(e) (2012) motion, and Bare was ineligible for the safety valve, 18 U.S.C.
§ 3553(f) (2012). See United States v. Allen, 450 F.3d 565, 568-69 (4th Cir. 2006).
Thus, Bare received the lowest sentence possible, * regardless of what his correct
Guidelines range was. Accordingly, any error did not affect his substantial rights, and
Bare failed to establish plain error.
At sentencing, defense counsel requested a sentence below the mandatory
minimum of 60 months based on Bare’s substantial assistance. Counsel noted that the
Government had not filed an 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e) motion despite Bare’s request that it do
The prosecutor responded that he had been authorized to move for a variance
sentence of 60 months under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) (2012). The district court implicitly
granted this motion by imposing a 60-month sentence.
Bare raises two issues regarding substantial assistance. First, he contends that the
United States breached the plea agreement by not making a substantial assistance motion.
Second, Bare asserts that the district court erred when it did not compel the Government
to move for a sentence below the statutory minimum based on his substantial assistance.
If the Government is not obligated to move for a departure based on substantial
assistance, and there is no evidence that the failure to so move is based on an
He was ineligible for application of the safety valve because he had more than
one criminal history point. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)(1) (2012).
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unconstitutional motive, the district court cannot compel the Government to make such a
motion. Wade v. United States, 504 U.S. 181, 185-86 (1992); United States v. Allen, 450
F.3d 565, 568-69 (4th Cir. 2006). Similarly, the Government’s decision not to move for a
downward departure generally is unreviewable, absent an affirmative obligation to do so
or some unconstitutional motivation. United States v. Snow, 234 F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir.
2000). Here, the Government did not agree to make a substantial assistance motion, and
nothing in the record suggests that the failure to make such a motion was
unconstitutionally motivated. We therefore conclude that Bare’s claims are without
Bare received a letter in March 2015 informing that he was a target of a grand jury
investigation into methamphetamine dealing. He contacted an attorney; however, the
attorney did not encourage Bare to contact the Government to offer assistance and did not
approach the Government himself to arrange a debriefing. Counsel’s inaction amounts to
ineffective assistance, Bare asserts.
“Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel may be raised on direct appeal only
where the record conclusively establishes ineffective assistance. . . . Otherwise, the
proper avenue for such claim is a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [(2012)] motion filed with the district
court.” United States v. Baptiste, 596 F.3d 214, 216 n.1 (4th Cir. 2010). Here, the record
does not conclusively establish ineffectiveness.
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In accordance with Anders, we have reviewed the record in this case and have
found no meritorious issues for appeal. We therefore affirm. We deny counsel’s motion
to withdraw at this time. This court requires that counsel inform Bare, in writing, of the
right to petition the Supreme Court of the United States for further review. If Bare
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 Bare. We dispense with
oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the
materials before the court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
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