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United States v. Silva

ELR Citation: 28 ELR 20029
Nos. 96-4026, 122 F.3d 412/(7th Cir., 08/18/1997)

The court affirms a district court's denial of a bird expert's motion to withdraw his guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to knowingly import, transport, and sell wildlife. The court first holds that the decision to deny the motion to withdraw the guilty plea was not an abuse of discretion. The court notes that the district court applied the correct standard that a court may permit a plea to be withdrawn if the defendant shows any fair and just reason. The district court's denial of the motion was grounded in a commonsense evaluation of the representations made in the motion in light of the unchallenged testimony presented at the Rule 11 hearing and of the witnesses heard by the court during the sentence hearing. The court next rejects the bird expert's argument that the district court erred in its determination that he was the leader or organizer of the conspiracy and that he ought to be given a reduction in sentence for acceptance of responsibility. The determination as to the role played by the bird expert was based on the testimony of eight days of witnesses at the sentencing hearing. From this, the district court was entitled to make the credibility determinations that it made. The court further holds that the decision not to award the reduction was well within a zone of reasonable responses to the facts.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Jeffrey Dobbins, Ellen J. Durkee
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Counsel for Defendant
David Schippers
20 N. Clark St., Chicago IL 60602
(312) 263-1200

Before Kanne and Wood, JJ.