United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
Timothy C. Batten, Sr., United States District Judge
case comes before the Court on Magistrate Judge Alan J.
Baverman’s report and recommendation (the
“R&R”) , which recommends denying
Defendant Marcus Watkins’s motion  to enforce the
plea agreement, and Watkins’s objections  thereto.
district judge has a duty to conduct a “careful and
complete” review of a magistrate judge’s R&R.
Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732, 732 (11th Cir.
1982) (per curiam) (quoting Nettles v. Wainwright,
677 F.2d 404, 408 (5th Cir. Unit B 1982)). This review may
take different forms, however, depending on whether there are
objections to the R&R. The district judge must
“make a de novo determination of those portions of the
[R&R] to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C). In contrast, those portions of the R&R to
which no objection is made need only be reviewed for
“clear error.” Macort v. Prem, Inc., 208
F. App’x 781, 784 (11th Cir. 2006) (per curiam)
(quoting Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident
Ins., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)).
filing objections must specifically identify those findings
objected to. Frivolous, conclusive or general objections need
not be considered by the district court.”
Nettles, 677 F.2d at 410 n.8. “This rule
facilitates the opportunity for district judges to spend more
time on matters actually contested and produces a result
compatible with the purposes of the Magistrates Act.”
Id. at 410.
conducting a complete and careful review of the R&R, the
district judge “may accept, reject, or modify”
the magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Williams, 681 F.2d at
732. The district judge “may also receive further
evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with
instructions.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
27, 2007, Watkins pleaded guilty to use of a firearm in
connection with a crime of violence. His plea agreement
provided that if he cooperated with the Government and the
Government determined that such cooperation qualified as
substantial assistance pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e)
or Section 5K.1 of the sentencing guidelines, the Government
could choose to file a motion at sentencing recommending a
downward departure from the applicable guideline range.
Government did not file a motion for a downward departure,
and Watkins filed his motion to enforce the plea agreement.
In his motion, he alleges that the Government refuses to file
a motion for downward departure out of bad faith, in
retaliation for allegations he made about federal agents and
Government opposes Watkins’s motion for two reasons.
First, it argues that Watkins’s cooperation did not
constitute substantial assistance. Second, it asserts that
Watkins engaged in an information-selling
scheme. The R&R recommends denying
Watkins’s motion. Watkins objects to four of the
R&R’s findings; the Court will address each
objection in turn.
“Watkins objects to the Magistrate Court’s
determination that the government’s failure to file a
motion to reduce his sentence was pretextual.”  at
1. In the same paragraph, Watkins writes, “the
Magistrate Court’s determination that the
government’s reasons for refusing to file the 5K1.1
sentence reduction motion were pretextual is
erroneous.” Id. The R&R actually found
that Watkins’s argument were pretextual, not
the Government’s decision. To the extent Watkins meant
to object to the R&R’s finding that the
Government’s decision was not pretextual, the Court
addresses the objection with Watkins’s fourth objection
below. Regardless of the interpretation of Watkins’s
argument, his first objection is overruled.
Watkins objects to the R&R’s conclusion that he did
not prove that the Government’s failure to file a
motion for downward departure was motivated by
unconstitutional vindictiveness. In his motion to enforce the
plea agreement, Watkins asserts that he alleged improprieties
within the U.S. Attorney’s Office and that the failure
to file a motion for downward departure was retaliatory and
resulted from an unconstitutional motive within the meaning
of Wade v. United States, 504 U.S. 181 (1992).
Wade, federal district courts may review the
Government’s denial of a substantial-assistance motion
and may impose a remedy if they find the refusal was based on
an unconstitutional motive. Here, Watkins does not assert
that the Government’s refusal to file a
substantial-assistance motion was related to race or religion
or that the “refusal to move was not rationally related
to any legitimate Government end.” Id. at
185–86. Watkins makes only generalized allegations of
an improper motive, which are insufficient under
Wade. See United States v. Bagui-Solis, 771
F. App’x 960, 964 (11th Cir. 2019).
Watkins objects to the R&R’s determination that his
involvement in a Rule-35-selling scheme is the legal basis
for denying a motion for downward departure. In particular,
he asserts that the record shows that the Government was
aware of his selling scheme but continued to deal with him.
Regardless, the plea agreement clearly states that
the determination as to whether [Watkins] has provided
‘substantial assistance’ rests solely with the
Government. Good faith efforts by the defendant that do not
substantially assist in the investigation of prosecution of
another person who has committed a crime will not result in
either a motion for downward departure or a Rule 35 motion.
[46-1] ¶ 6. That alone indicates that the
Government’s decision was lawful. Watkins’s