Court Opinions: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for May 26

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

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

U.S v. Michael Spears

Michael Spears pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Although his plea agreement contained a waiver of his appellate rights, he filed a notice of appeal. The government moved to enforce the appeal waiver in the plea agreement pursuant to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2004 ruling in United States v. Hahn.

Under Hahn, the 10th Circuit considered “whether the disputed appeal falls within the scope of the waiver of appellate rights, whether the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his appellate rights and whether enforcing the waiver would result in a miscarriage of justice.”

In response to the government’s motion, Spears, through counsel, said he was “unable to identify an appellate issue that falls outside the scope of the waiver,” he was “unable to dispute the government’s contention that the appellate waiver is knowing and voluntary” and “nothing in the record suggests that enforcing the waiver would be a miscarriage of justice.” Spears conceded there was no “viable, non-frivolous reason to argue that the appeal waiver is unenforceable.”

Based on this concession, the 10th Circuit granted the government’s motion to enforce the appeal waiver and dismiss the appeal.

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