United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
November 10, 2016
from the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia (No. 1:13-cr-00306-1)
C. Sussman, appointed by the court, argued the cause and
filed the briefs for the appellant.
B. Feldman, Assistant United States Attorney, argued the
cause for the appellee. Elizabeth Trosman and George P.
Eliopoulos, Assistant United States Attorneys, were with him
on the brief.
Before: Henderson and Pillard, Circuit Judges, and Ginsburg,
Senior Circuit Judge.
LeCraft Henderson, Circuit Judge
Hunt has a long history of drug dealing. Over the years he
has done much of his business at Potomac Gardens, a housing
project in southeast Washington, D.C. In this case, he
conspired to distribute heroin from there. He pleaded guilty
pursuant to a plea agreement in which he anticipatorily
waived his right to appeal certain aspects of his sentence.
The district court sentenced him to 62 months of
imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised
release. Without saying why, the court conditioned Hunt's
supervised release on his staying away from Potomac Gardens.
Hunt objected to the condition but not to the lack of
now appeals, challenging both the stay-away condition and the
district court's failure to explain it. The government
argues that Hunt's appeal waiver bars his claims. We
disagree. The waiver contains ambiguities that the court
compounded during the plea colloquy. We construe the
ambiguities against the government, which drafted the plea
agreement and provided no clarification during the colloquy.
We nevertheless uphold the stay-away condition because
Hunt's claims fail on the merits. First, because he did
not object to the court's failure to explain the
condition, we review his procedural claim for plain error
only. To the extent there was a procedural error, it was not
plain and did not affect his substantial rights. Second, as a
substantive matter, the condition is well within the
court's wide discretion. It will sensibly keep Hunt away
from a neighborhood in which he has conducted numerous drug
deals. And because he neither lives in the neighborhood nor
alleges that he has family there, the condition does not
unduly restrict his liberty.
Hunt's Offenses, Pa s t And Present
has ties with Potomac Gardens but they are not to his credit.
In 1987, he conducted at least three heroin deals there. In
1990, he assaulted police officers there. In 1994, he again
participated in a series of heroin sales there. In the
process, he threatened security guards and told a young child
to keep an eye out for police. After he pleaded guilty to
conspiracy based on the 1994 conduct, a long jail term kept
him away from Potomac Gardens until at least 2006. In June
2009, the D.C. Housing Authority barred him from the complex.
He was not deterred: narcotics officers found him at Potomac
Gardens just a few months later.
late 2012 to early 2013, while residing elsewhere, Hunt once
again used Potomac Gardens as a base of operations for drug
dealing. He repeatedly sold heroin from there through a
middleman to a confidential source. The deals involved a
total of more than 100 grams of heroin. Based on those deals,
the government charged him here with conspiring to distribute
and to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of
heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. It also charged
him with six related drug offenses.
The Guilty Plea
was arrested and agreed to plead guilty to the conspiracy
count in exchange for the government's dismissal of the
other counts. The parties stipulated to an imprisonment range
of 60 to 65 months and a five-year term of supervised
release. Pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure, the parties further agreed that the
sentencing range and five-year term of supervised release
would bind the district court if it accepted the plea
Finally, Hunt agreed to waive some of his appellate rights
with respect to his sentence. In pertinent part, the appeal
[Hunt] understands that federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C.
§ 3742, affords defendants the right to appeal their
sentences in certain circumstances. [Hunt] agrees to waive
the right to appeal the sentence in this case, including any
term of imprisonment, fine, forfeiture, award of restitution,
term of supervised release, authority of the Court to set
conditions of release, and the manner in which the sentence
was determined, except to the extent the Court sentences
[Hunt] above the statutory maximum or guidelines range
determined by the Court or [Hunt] claims that [he] received
ineffective assistance of counsel, in which case [he] would
have the right to appeal the illegal ...