Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cert Grant Series: What appeal issues are waived with a guilty plea?

As the First Monday in October approaches, we will review some of the cases pending before the Supreme Court. Thus far, the criminal case docket is rather light.

Class v. United States considers whether “a guilty plea inherently waives a defendant's right to challenge the constitutionality of his statute of conviction”. This issue arises from a deep circuit split on whether a constitutional challenge to the statute of conviction survives a plea, or is waived as part of the factual concession.

Which side does our circuit take? The Tenth has held that all non-jurisdictional claims are waived by an unconditional guilty plea, with a "narrow exception" for only "two constitutional claims — due process claims for vindictive prosecution and double jeopardy claims that are evident from the face of the indictment." United States v. DeVaughn, 694 F.3d1141, 1152-53 (10th Cir. 2012) (acknowledging Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21 (1974) and Menna v. New York, 423 U.S. 61 (1975)). Thus, Class could expand or change Tenth Circuit law on this issue. 

Of course, a plea agreement with an appellate waiver will probably dash any such challenge, at least in the Tenth Circuit, which has the most restrictive approach to appellate waiver relief among the circuits.

This is set for argument October 4. NACDL and The Innocence Project have filed amici briefs.

-- Melody

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