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United States v. Ahmed

United States District Court, D. Utah

December 10, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
TOHEED AHMED, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENAS

          JILL N. PARRISH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Alexander E. Ramos's and Adam G. Bridge's Motion to Quash Subpoenas (ECF No. 122), filed on October 24, 2017. The Government, after seeking an extension, responded on November 17, 2017. Messrs. Ramos and Bridge have not filed a reply, and the time for doing so has passed. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the motion. Messrs. Ramos and Bridge are ORDERED to appear at an evidentiary hearing on December 12, 2017, in Courtroom 8.200 at 2:00 p.m.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a criminal case. Alexander E. Ramos and Adam G. Bridge served as Defendant Toheed Ahmed's counsel. Mr. Ahmed, while represented by Messrs. Ramos and Bridge, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Shortly after doing so, Mr. Ahmed moved to withdraw his guilty plea. Messrs. Ramos and Bridge withdrew as counsel, and the Court appointed new counsel. Mr. Ahmed, in support of the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, testified that former counsel failed to adequately inform him as to the terms of the plea agreement. The Government has served subpoenas on Messrs. Ramos and Bridge and seeks to elicit testimony from them to contradict Mr. Ahmed's testimony. Messrs. Ramos and Bridge have moved to quash the Government's subpoenas, claiming that their communications with Mr. Ahmed and their opinions concerning those communications are privileged and protected by the work-product doctrine. The Court disagrees.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Defendant Toheed Ahmed was indicted on January 13, 2016, for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (“Count I”) and possession with intent to distribute cocaine (“Count II”). Count I carried a maximum sentence of life with a minimum mandatory term of ten years imprisonment, and Count II carried a maximum term of twenty years imprisonment.

         At his arraignment, Mr. Ahmed requested counsel, and the Court appointed Ms. Audrey James, an assistant federal public defender. Mr. Ahmed's trial was continued, and Alexander E. Ramos, another assistant federal public defender, entered an appearance on July 7, 2016. Mr. Ramos entered a substitution of counsel on August 3, 2016, replacing Ms. James. Adam G. Bridge, another federal public defender, filed an appearance of counsel on October 26, 2016.

         Ms. James, as Mr. Ahmed's counsel, had filed a motion to suppress on July 7, 2016. The motion was amended twice, and the Court held an evidentiary hearing on the second amended motion to suppress on November 21, 2016. On March 23, 2017, the Court denied the motion. On April 6, 2017, Mr. Ahmed appeared before Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead and orally moved to appoint new counsel. The Court denied the motion, and trial was continued until May 30, 2017.

         On May 10, 2017, Mr. Ahmed appeared before Judge Pead and pleaded guilty to Count I of the indictment, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Mr. Ramos represented Mr. Ahmed at the hearing. The Statement in Advance of Plea provides: (1) the parties, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), stipulate to a sentence of 120 months followed by five years of supervised release; (2) the federal sentence runs concurrent with any additional state sentence yet to be imposed by the Utah State Parole Board; (3) Mr. Ahmed preserved his right to appeal this Court's denial of his motion to suppress; and (4) the Government would move to dismiss Count II at the time of sentencing. Mr. Ahmed also agreed to waive his right to appeal the sentencing and to forfeit $7, 852.00 in cash and a 2007 Infiniti vehicle.

         Mr. Ahmed, through Mr. Ramos, filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea on June 26, 2017, and a supporting memorandum on July 7, 2017. Mr. Ahmed filed a motion for a status conference on August 3, 2017, and the next day at the conference, the Court appointed him new counsel, Julie George.

         On September 13, 2017, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. Ms. George represented Mr. Ahmed at the hearing, the Government was represented by Cy Castle, and Messrs. Ramos and Bridge were represented by Lynn Clark Donaldson, another federal public defender.

         At the hearing, Mr. Ahmed testified on direct examination and was cross examined by Mr. Castle. During direct examination, Mr. Ahmed testified as to conversations he had with Mr. Ramos concerning the terms of the plea agreement. Mr. Ahmed stated that Mr. Ramos failed to adequately inform him as to the terms of the plea agreement:

Q: Did you have an opportunity to listen to your defense counsel reading [the plea agreement] to you?
A: Yes. He only read the relevant conduct to me. He said it was the most important part of the plea agreement, and the ...

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