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June 13, 2013

SCOTUS holds in Davila judicial involvement in pleas subject to harmless error analysis

Via the fine folks at SCOTUSblog, here are the quick highlights from the one sentencing-related opinion handed down by the US Supreme Court this morning:

US v. Davila. Opinion by Ginsburg for the Court. The decision of the Eleventh Circuit is vacated and remanded. There is a concurrence by Justice Scalia that joins part of the opinion and in the judgment; Justice Thomas joins that opinion.

Under the Federal Rules, vacatur of the plea is not in order if the record shows no prejudice to Davila's decision to plead guilty.  This was a case in which the issue was whether there must be an automatic reversal if the judge played any role in the plea bargaining....

Here is the opinion in Davila.

In Davila, the Eleventh Circuit had ruled that automatic reversal was required, which conflicted with essentially everyone else's ruling.  Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 prohibits judges from participating in plea agreements, but another subsection of the rule also provides that a “variance from the requirements” of Rule 11 is “harmless if it does not affect substantial rights,” so this one did not come as a huge surprise.

June 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM | Permalink


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LOL only a govt fucktard would think any error in a criminal trial could possibly be "harmless"

Posted by: rodsmith | Jun 16, 2013 7:52:16 PM

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