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United States v. Yelizarov

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 12, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
STANISLAV YELIZAROV

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA

          Marvin J. Garbis, United States District Judge.

         The Court has before it Defendant Yelizarov's Motion to Vacate Guilty Plea and Appoint New Counsel [ECF No. 56] and the materials submitted relating thereto. The motion was filed pro se but the Defendant has since obtained counsel to represent him regarding the matter. The Court has held a hearing and heard evidence - including testimony - regarding the motion, and makes findings of fact stated herein based upon its evaluation of the evidence and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant Yelizarov is charged with committing a murder during and in relation to a crime of violence for which he may be prosecuted in federal court, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) and (j)(1). He was represented by appointed counsel, Michael Edward Lawlor, Esquire.

         Trial was scheduled to begin on Monday, September 11, 2017. On the business day before trial was to begin - Friday, September 8 - Yelizarov entered a plea of guilty to the Indictment.[1]

         Nearly three months later, on December 5, 2017, Yelizarov filed the instant motion claiming that he was “forced under duress to take a guilty plea by Mr. Lawlor” and asserting that Mr. Lawlor had not provided him with adequate professional representation. Def.'s Mot. at 1, ECF No. 56.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 11(d)(2)(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:

A defendant may withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere: . . . (2) after the court accepts the plea, but before it imposes sentence if: . . . (B) the defendant can show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal.

         The defendant bears the burden of demonstrating a fair and just reason for the withdrawal. United States v. Moore, 931 F.2d 245, 248 (4th Cir. 1991). In deciding whether to grant a defendant's request to withdraw his guilty plea, the Court considers a variety of factors, including:

“(1) whether the defendant has offered credible evidence that his plea was not knowing or not voluntary,
(2) whether the defendant has credibly asserted his legal innocence,
(3) whether there has been a delay between the entering of the plea and the ...

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