United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
ENTRY AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO WITHDRAW PLEA (DOC.
M. ROSE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is before the Court on Defendant Laticha Schroyer's
Motion to Withdraw Plea (Doc. 39). On August 14, 2017,
Schroyer pled guilty to one misdemeanor count connected to
making false statements related to her entitlement to federal
Workers' Compensation benefits. She now asks the Court to
permit her to withdraw her guilty plea under Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 11(d) based upon her assertion of actual
innocence. On March 12, 2018, the Court held a hearing on the
Motion to Withdraw Plea, at which Schroyer testified and both
her counsel and the Government's counsel argued their
respective positions. For the reasons below, the Court
DENIES the Motion to Withdraw Plea.
was employed by the United States Postal Service as a letter
carrier at its West Carrollton, Ohio office. (Doc. 39 at 2.)
On or about May 7, 2015, she sustained a physical injury
while attempting to lift a heavy package. (Id.) As a
result of this injury, she was placed on limited duty.
(Id.) A medical professional later increased her
work restrictions after a physical examination.
Government alleged that Schroyer misrepresented her physical
condition to a federal agent and charged her with Theft of
Government Money or Property and False Statements Related to
Federal Workers' Compensation Benefits. On August 14,
2017, Schroyer pled guilty by bill of information to one
misdemeanor count to making a statement that was
“false, fictitious, or misleading” in connection
with federal Workers' Compensation benefits. (Doc. 37.)
About a month and a half later later, on September 27, 2017,
she filed the Motion to Withdraw Plea (Doc. 39) now before
the Court. The Court has not yet imposed a sentence based on
Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(d)(2) provides that a defendant
may withdraw a plea of guilty after the Court has accepted
the plea, but before it imposes sentence, if the
“defendant can show a fair and just reason for
requesting the withdrawal.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(d)(2).
The defendant has the burden of demonstrating a ground for
granting the motion to withdraw. United States v.
Triplett, 828 F.2d 1195, 1197 (6th Cir. 1987).
Court considers several factors to determine whether a
defendant has carried her burden for withdrawing her plea:(1)
the amount of time that elapsed between the plea and the
motion to withdraw it; (2) the presence (or absence) of a
valid reason for the failure to move for withdrawal earlier
in the proceedings; (3) whether the defendant has asserted or
maintained [her] innocence; (4) the circumstances underlying
the entry of the guilty plea; (5) the defendant's nature
and background; (6) the degree to which the defendant has had
prior experience with the criminal justice system; and (7)
potential prejudice to the government if the motion to
withdraw is granted.” United States v. Dixon,
479 F.3d 431, 436 (6th Cir.2007).
the first two factors, “[t]he shorter the delay, the
more likely a motion to withdraw will be granted, and a
defendant's reasons for filing such a motion will be more
closely scrutinized when he has delayed his motion for a
substantial length of time.” United States v.
Baez, 87 F.3d 805, 808 (6th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Triplett, 828 F.2d at 1197). A longer interval
between the plea and the motion to withdraw suggests
strategic behavior. United States v. Carpenter, 554
Fed.Appx. 477, 481 (6th Cir. 2014).
Sixth Circuit has not established a hard and fast rule for
when delay in moving to withdraw a plea is unreasonable, but
has affirmed decisions denying withdrawal of a guilty plea
after one or two months. Id. (citing cases). Here,
Schroyer waited a month and a half before bringing her Motion
to Withdraw Plea. While that is not an inordinately long
period, it is long enough to infer that Schroyer's
decision might have been based on strategic thinking.
argues that she should be permitted to withdraw her plea
based on her actual innocence. Actual innocence means
“factual innocence not mere legal insufficiency.”
Bousley v. U.S., 523 U.S. 614, 623-24 (1998).
Schroyer claims that she did not understand the context of
the questions that she was asked by the special agent
investigating her entitlement to Workers' Compensation
benefits, and therefore did not have the culpable state of
mind required to be found guilty of making a misleading
statement. She also asserts that making the decision to enter
the plea involved “an intense mental and emotional
struggle concerning whether to enter the plea and bring this
case to a close or to summon the courage to trust the
criminal justice system to find her innocent.” (Doc. 39
at 3.) She explains that she pled guilty because she
understood that her ability to prevail at trial would depend
on a highly subjective assessment of her credibility. (Doc.
39 at 4.) She testified at the hearing on the Motion to
Withdraw Plea that, at the time, she believed pleading guilty
to the misdemeanor was better than proceeding to trial on
began to doubt her plea in discussions with the
administrative judge presiding over her case before the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). The
administrative judge explained to Schroyer that her guilty
plea would have a negative impact on her claim. The United
States Postal Service attorney's argument at the EEOC
hearing also caused Schroyer to reconsider whether she should
have pled guilty.
hearing on the Motion to Withdraw Plea, Schroyer also
recalled her colloquy with the Court during her plea hearing.
She acknowledged that she was asked a number of times about
the statement of facts upon which she entered her plea. She
had no explanation as to how she could have misunderstood the
plain language in that statement of facts, including the
statement that she made misleading statements to the special
agent. During the Government's cross-examination,
Schroyer was also reminded of the approximately 90 minutes
that Schroyer, her counsel, and the Government's counsel
spent drafting the language in the statement of facts for her
the circumstances of this case do not establish a fair and
just reason for permitting Schroyer to withdraw her plea.
There were no defects in the plea hearing that might cast
doubt on whether or not she understood the statement of facts
and the charge to which she pled. Her decision to seek
withdrawal immediately followed an EEOC hearing, during which
she learned that her guilty plea would adversely affect its