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United States v. Duke

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

August 29, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Ronnie Edward Duke, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:14-cr-20136-1-Stephen J. Murphy III, District Judge.

         ON BRIEF:

          Craig A. Daly, CRAIG A. DALY, P.C., Detroit, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Matthew B. Kall, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

          Before: MOORE, STRANCH, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          KAREN NELSON MOORE, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Defendant-Appellant Ronnie Edward Duke was sentenced to a 97-month term of imprisonment for assaulting an Assistant United States Attorney at a hearing in a separate case. During the incident, Duke struck the attorney's head against and pushed the attorney's legs into a table in the courtroom, causing bruising and an abrasion. At sentencing, the district court determined that the table was a "dangerous weapon" under the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual ("the Guidelines"), which triggered sentencing enhancements that Duke challenges on appeal. Duke also argues that some of these enhancements constitute impermissible double counting for the same conduct. Because Duke used the courtroom table under the circumstances as a dangerous weapon and because no impermissible double counting occurred, we AFFIRM the sentence below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The district court made factual findings based on the parties' memoranda and the presentence investigation report ("PSR"), R. 35 (Sentencing Tr. at 38) (Page ID #262), so our recitation of the facts is likewise focused on these sources.

         A. Facts

         The events that gave rise to this case began after Duke was sentenced to a 156-month term of imprisonment for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. No. 2:11-cr-20017-JAC-VMM R. 180 (Judgment at 2) (Page ID #899).[1] However, following his sentence, Duke failed to self-surrender. PSR ¶ 6. A warrant was issued for his arrest, a new indictment was filed, charging Duke with failure to surrender for a sentence, and Duke was arrested on February 24, 2014. Id. ¶¶ 6-8. At the arraignment, defense counsel requested that Duke be transferred to the prison to which he had originally been designated to report or to a prison in Milan, Michigan. Id. ¶ 8. Counsel for the government opposed Duke's request, instead requesting that Duke be transferred to a more local facility because the new charges were brought in the Eastern District of Michigan. Id.

         At this point, the hearing turned. Duke "yelled 'you f**cking b**ch' and ran towards the government attorney." Id. He "grabbed the victim by the back of the victim's head[, ] struck the victim with his fist several times[, and] smashed the victim's head into a table repeatedly. The victim's legs were pushed into the table during the attack, causing bruising." Id. Duke also acknowledges that there was "a small abrasion on the AUSA's right temple." Appellant's Br. at 3. The attack ended when "various people within the courtroom" "subdued" Duke. PSR ¶ 8.

         B. Charges, Sentencing, and Procedural History

         Duke was ultimately charged with one count of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(1), (b). R. 1 (Indictment) (Page ID #1- 3). Duke pleaded guilty to this count, which the ...


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