Court Opinion: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for Aug. 15

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

United States v. Barrales

The government moved to enforce the appeal waiver in Rafael Barrales’ plea agreement under the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision United States v. Hahn. A 10th Circuit panel out of Salt Lake City, Utah, granted the motion to enforce and dismissed the appeal.

Barrales pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Under the terms of his plea agreement, the parties agreed to a stipulated sentence of 58 months in prison. Additionally, Barrales waived his right to appeal unless “the Court reject[ed] the plea agreement and determined that a sentence different from the agreed upon sentence of 58 months’ imprisonment will be imposed,”  or the court imposed a sentence “greater than the sentence set forth in [the plea] agreement.” He also “waived [his] right to challenge [his] sentence, unless the sentence imposed [was] greater than the sentence set forth in [the plea] agreement, and [his] conviction, in any collateral review motion . . . under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, except on the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel.”  By signing his written plea agreement and responding to the court’s questions during the change of plea hearing, Barrales confirmed he was entering his plea knowingly and voluntarily and he understood its consequences, including the possible sentence and his appeal waiver. The court accepted his guilty plea and sentenced Barrales to 58 months in prison. Barrales appealed.

In ruling on a motion to enforce, the 10th Circuit considered whether the appeal fell within the scope of the waiver, whether the waiver was knowing and voluntary and whether enforcing it would’ve resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

In his counseled response to the government’s motion to enforce, Barrales conceded there was no reasonable basis for disputing the validity of the appeal waiver or “for asserting that enforcement of the appeal waiver would result in a miscarriage of justice” under Hahn. 

The 10th Circuit granted the government’s motion to enforce the appeal waiver and dismissed the appeal, the opinion noted, citing its decision in United States v. Porter.

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