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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit rules on plea waivers

In Wayne P. Roberts v. U.S.A., an appeal from the N.D. Ind., Judge Sharp, Judge Wood writes:
Although the ultimate disposition of this case is straightforward, we have observed some confusion with respect to the appropriate procedures for enforcing plea waivers. In Roberts’s case, the government initially buried its request for dismissal in a jurisdictional memorandum, the ostensible purpose of which is to assure the court that the petitioner’s action is not subject to the pre-approval mechanism of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b). At that stage, the record did not contain a copy of the plea agreement, nor did the government do anything to cure that omission. Nothing, as far as we can tell, actually quoted the waiver language we have reproduced above. Because waivers differ in their scope, we found it necessary to order additional briefing on the question, to ensure that Roberts’s waiver indeed barred his motion.

In the future, when the government wishes to enforce a waiver, the better procedure would be to file a separate motion to dismiss the § 2255 proceeding on this ground, in which it specifically calls the court’s attention to the waiver. The plea agreement should be attached to the motion, so that the court is in a position to ensure that it applies to the case at hand. We have never been reluctant to hold criminal defendants to their promises. * * * On the other hand, there have been cases in which we have rejected an argument that a waiver of appeal or collateral relief bars an action. * * * We can accomplish the goal of enforcing waivers appropriately only if the government clearly alerts the court to the existence of the waiver and furnishes the necessary information about its exact terms.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 22, 2005 01:21 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions