Thursday, January 05, 2006

US v. Adams, No. 04-30339 (1-3-06). Add something else to the pre-Booker plea colloquy. In this opinion, the 9th finds it is "plain error" for the court not to inform defendant, in the pre-Booker context, that a fine under the guidelines is mandatory. Thus, his plea was unknowing of the penalties, and involuntary. The defendant plead guilty to growing marijuana plants. The gov't agreed to recommend that no fine be imposed. The court nonetheless imposed a $400,000 fine. Defendant argued on appeal that if he knew the fine was mandatory, he would not have plead guilty. The 9th agreed, running counter to nine other circuits, and arguably (according to Kleinfeld in a spirited dissent) the 9th's own precedent. The majority reasoned that the Guidelines state that if the defendant can pay a fine, a fine must be imposed. The 9th finds this a "mandatory" condition, and bolstered its holding with the amendment to Rule 11 in 1989 that instructs the court to state that the Guidelines must be applied (this is again pre-Booker and in the plea context). The precedent that may be used to say that only stat mandatory minimums need to be imposed (Maree) was prior to this amendment. In dissent, Kleinfeld is aghast that the majority (Alarcon and Konzinski) would read the requirement of "having to impose a fine" as really meaning that, when it was a guideline minimum, not a statutory one, and the other circuits have run counter.

Santos v. Guam, No. 03-70472 (1-3-06). No Circuit is an island, entire of itself, but when it comes to Guamian jurisdiction, Congress did make the island entire of itself, at least for decisions arising from Guam law and decided by the Guam Supreme Court. The 9th used to have jurisdiction to review the Guam Supreme Court's decisions. Congress took it away on Oct. 30, 2004. What happens to cases in the pipeline? The 9th looked to Supreme Court precedent (Ex parte McCardle, Bruner and Landgraf, where cases have held that when jurisdiction is repealed, with no reservation clauses for pending cases, the court is without jurisdiction. Wallace concurred, adding that a party doesn't have a right to have a number of tribunals to seek appeal. This jurisdiction stripping case may have implications in the future should Congress strip jurisdiction either in habeas or in other areas.


Post a Comment

<< Home