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Judge Carr Criminal Cases

1. Initial Appearances, Arraignments, and Detention Hearings

Generally, a Magistrate Judge presides at the arraignment/initial appearance and the detention hearing.

Very often, counsel has insufficient time between the defendant’s arrest and the detention hearing to develop and propose acceptable conditions of release. Counsel should contact and work with the assigned Pretrial Services Officer. Even where detention is confirmed, counsel may, at any time, seek review of the defendant’s status and release if circumstances warrant such request.

Where counsel seeks review of a Magistrate Judge’s decision not to release the defendant, the following factors are are examined in establishing what may be reasonably sufficient to assure the defendant’s appearance and protect the community: 1) Third-party custody; 2) posting of  property; and 3) electronic monitoring or other methods of supervisory oversight.

Surety (bail) bonds are, as a general rule, strongly disfavored. In lieu thereof, counsel should propose alternative conditions, such as third party custody, real estate property bonds, location monitoring, pretrial supervision, or some combination thereof.

Where counsel propose posting property, it is not necessary to obtain an appraisal, produce tax information, or otherwise submit financial documentation. Under most circumstances, it is, however, necessary to propose posting of a monetary bond procured from a bail bondsman.

For further insight to my views on the importance of attempting to secure release pending disposition, see, Carr J, Why Pretrial Release Really Matters, 29 Fed. Sent. R. 217, 2017 WL 1948193 (Vera Inst. Just.).


2. Discovery

Shortly after I have been assigned to a criminal case, my Courtroom Deputy, Tina Damoah (419-213-5565 /, will set a status/scheduling conference. At that conference, I typically determine the time needed for counsel to acquire and familiarize themselves with discovery and set a timetable for filing pretrial motions. I typically also set a date and time for a further status/scheduling conference to take place shortly after expiration of the motion deadline.

As a general rule, defense counsel will have access to the same evidence and information available to the AUSA, except that which might disclose confidential sources and/or jeopardize an ongoing investigation. At the earliest opportunity, defense counsel should contact the AUSA assigned to the case to discuss how discovery will proceed and the time the government will need to make it available.

Motions for discovery under Rule 16, Jencks, Brady, etc. usually are not necessary.


3. Motions

Once motions are filed, and before an oppositional memo is due, a status conference will be held. The conference may be used to: 1.) review pending motions; 2.) address any motions that are moot or ready for ruling; 3.) determine which motions need further briefing or a hearing; and 4.) establish a schedule for same.

Motions requiring an evidentiary hearing, such as motions to suppress, should contain a brief statement of the basis for the motion. It is not necessary, however, to submit a brief on the law until after the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, I customarily express my tentative findings of fact. I also set a timetable for further briefing on the motion.

Counsel should, in contrast, fully brief motions not requiring a hearing.

Counsel have leave to exceed the page limitations of our local rules, if necessary.


4. Guilty Pleas

I usually take guilty pleas in the criminal cases assigned to me. I have prepared, a list of the topics that under Rule 11 I must cover before accepting a plea of guilty. The Courtroom Deputy will provide counsel a copy of the list in advance of the plea hearing. I urge counsel to review this list as I am going through the Rule 11 process, so they may call my attention to any item I may have overlooked.

On occasion, I may refer a guilty plea to the Magistrate Judge. The Judge will then prepare a report and recommendation. I will review that recommendation, along with the recording or a transcript of the proceeding. Assuming there are no problems or objections, I accept the plea and enter judgment accordingly.

At the conclusion of the plea hearing, the Courtroom Deputy will work with counsel to establish a date for the sentencing. In the interim, a Probation Officer will contact counsel and arrange a date and time for the Officer’s initial interview with the defendant. The defendant is entitled to have his or her attorney present.

On occasion, counsel have instructed the defendant not to participate in the interview with Probation. In my view, such instruction is contrary to the defendant’s best interest at this stage of the case. This interview is important to both the Officer and me. While in rare instances counsel may deem it in the defendant’s interest to restrict the Officer’s inquiry and avoid certain subjects or issues, a blanket refusal to meet with the Officer is not, in my view, appropriate.


5. Voir Dire

On consent of the parties, a U.S. Magistrate Judge may preside over voir dire.

Prior to voir dire, counsel may prepare and submit a juror questionnaire. Counsel may also obtain questionnaires from other cases from the Courtroom Deputy. If counsel cannot agree on the questionnaire, I will resolve the dispute(s).

The Clerk scans the questionnaires onto discs for counsel. The court does not retain the original paper copies. Counsel may retain the medium for purposes of appellate review, if necessary. Public disclosure of the discs or their contents is prohibited without prior court order.

Counsel actively participate in the voir dire process. However, they shall not ask prospective jurors about their place of residence. That information is contained on the questionnaire. If some reason exists to inquire about residential information, counsel shall request a sidebar, with the record to be sealed.

Voir dire may be conducted either in the presence of the venire, or without other prospective jurors being present.

Counsel shall make challenges for cause at a sidebar following completion of a juror’s questioning.

Counsel exercise peremptory challenges outside the presence of the jurors.


6. Sentencing Memoranda

Orders setting sentencing dates include a requirement that counsel are to file sentencing memoranda not later than ten (10) days before the hearing. Unfortunately, in the past, counsel have disregarded this deadline. Failure to meet this requirement may make it difficult, if not impossible, for me to read/review the memorandum prior to the sentencing hearing.

All sentencing memoranda shall be filed under seal.

Attachments to the sentencing memorandum shall be typewritten. Handwritten submissions are often illegible. In addition, the audio technology I use to assist me does not read handwritten documents. 


7. Post-trial contact with jurors

To the extent jurors are willing, counsel may speak with jurors in the courthouse. Thereafter, counsel shall not initiate, either directly or indirectly, any contact with former jurors without prior court approval.