United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge
pending and ready for resolution is an appeal from a judgment
of conviction filed by Appellant Palmer Robinson
("Appellant"). For the following reasons, the
judgment will be affirmed.
October 19, 2014 Prince George’s County Police Officer
M. Donahue responded to a call about a single-car accident.
(ECF No. 12, at 12). Officer Donahue notified the United
States Park Police of the incident because the accident
occurred on the United States Fish and Wildlife Refuge (the
"Fish and Wildlife Refuge"). United States Park
Police Officer Megan Farrell responded to the scene.
(Id. at 26). After questioning Appellant and
conducting field sobriety tests, Officer Farrell arrested
Appellant. At the United States Park Police Station, she
administered two breath tests, which indicated a blood
alcohol content of .101 and .099. (See ECF Nos. 11,
at 2; 12, at 76). The Government subsequently charged
Appellant with (1) driving under the influence of alcohol;
(2) driving while intoxicated; (3) unsafe operation of a
motor vehicle; (4) failure to maintain proper control; and
(5) damage to government property.
November 12, 2015, the case proceeded to bench trial before
Magistrate Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo. Appellant objected to
a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States Fish
and Wildlife Service and the United States Park Police (the
"Memorandum of Understanding"). Judge DiGirolamo
declined to admit the document, but took "judicial
notice of the fact that Park Police has authority to perform
law enforcement functions on Fish and Wildlife." (ECF
No. 12, at 63-64). The Government called Officers Donahue and
Farrell to testify. Both officers stated that Appellant had
the smell of alcohol on his breath. (Id. at 18, 31).
Officer Farrell explained that based on her observations and
Appellant’s performance on the field sobriety tests,
she placed Appellant under arrest and administered the breath
tests. (Id. at 41-42). Based on the testimony and
evidence, Judge DiGirolamo found Appellant guilty of all
charges. (Id. at 77-78).
was granted three motions for extension of time to file an
appeal. (ECF Nos. 4; 6; 8). On April 18, 2016 Appellant filed
the pending appeal (ECF No. 9), and the Government responded
(ECF No. 11).
Standard of Review
to Fed.R.Crim.P. 58(g)(2)(B), "[a] defendant may appeal
a magistrate judge’s judgment of conviction or sentence
to a district judge within 14 days of its entry" by
"fil[ing] a notice with the clerk specifying the
judgment being appealed and . . . serv[ing] a copy on the
adverse party." Rule 58(g)(2)(D) provides that
"[t]he scope of the appeal is the same as in an appeal
to the court of appeals from a judgment entered by a district
judge." The record on appeal consists of the original
papers and exhibits in the case, together with any
transcript, tape, or other recording of the proceeding and a
certified copy of the docket entries. Fed.R.Crim.P.
reviewing a judgment of conviction entered by a magistrate
judge, a "district court utilizes the same standards of
review applied by a court of appeals in assessing a district
court conviction, " rather than conducting a "trial
de novo." United States v. Bursey, 416 F.3d
301, 305 (4th Cir. 2005). A magistrate
judge’s conclusions of law are subject to de novo
review, while his findings of fact are reviewed only for
clear error, just as would be the case were the matter on
appeal from a District Court bench trial to a Court of
Appeals. See United States v. Orme, 851
F.Supp. 708, 709 (D.Md. 1994), aff’d, 51 F.3d
269 (4th Cir. 1995).
for sufficiency of the evidence proceeds on a familiar
"A defendant challenging the sufficiency of the evidence
faces a heavy burden." United States v. Foster,
507 F.3d 233, 245 (4th Cir. 2007). In a
sufficiency of the evidence challenge, [the court] view[s]
the evidence on appeal in the light most favorable to the
government in determining whether any rational trier of fact
could find the essential elements of the crime beyond a
reasonable doubt. United States v. Collins, 412 F.3d
515, 519 (4th Cir. 2005). [It] review[s] both
direct and circumstantial evidence, and accord[s] the
government all reasonable inferences from the facts shown to
those sought to be established. United States v.
Harvey, 532 F.3d 326, 333 (4th Cir. 2008).
[It does] not review the credibility of the witnesses and
assume[s] that the [fact-finder] resolved all contradictions
in the testimony in favor of the government. United
States v. Kelly, 510 F.3d 433, 440 (4th Cir.
2007). [The court] will uphold the [fact-finder’s]
verdict if substantial evidence supports it and will reverse
only in those rare cases of clear failure by the prosecution.
Foster, 507 F.3d at 244-45.
United States v. Cone, 714 F.3d 197, 212
(4th Cir. 2013).
contends that Judge DiGirolamo erred in taking judicial
notice of the Memorandum of Understanding and in finding him
guilty of all charges ...