Skip to main content

Supervised Offender’s Waiver of Legal Representation at Revocation Hearing Sufficient under Totality of the Circumstances Standard

In United States v. Manuel, No. 12-4258 (3d Cir., Oct. 17, 2013), Defendant pled guilty to conspiracy as well as the substantive offense of mail fraud, involving a scheme to defraud investors in Defendant’s non-existent financial assistance programs. He was sentenced to 71-months imprisonment and three years supervised release. While on supervised release, Defendant committed several infractions, including illegal drug use and unauthorized employment. During his second supervision revocation hearing, Defendant petitioned the court to allow him to represent himself. The court conducted a colloquy with Defendant and ultimately granted his request. The court also granted Defendant several continuances to allow him to obtain additional documents and witnesses. Defendant ultimately presented witness testimony from his substance abuse therapist and employees from a halfway house to which he had been sanctioned. Nonetheless, the court revoked his supervised release term and sentenced him to two, consecutive 16-month jail terms. Defendant appealed this revocation sentence, arguing that the court’s colloquy was insufficient under United States v. Peppers, 302 F.3d 120 (3d Cir. 2002), and therefore his waiver of legal representation was ineffective.

The Third Circuit disagreed, interpreting Peppers to apply only to a defendant’s right to self-representation in a criminal prosecution, not a supervision revocation hearing. The court recognized that the case cited by Defendant, Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (1972), specifically states that the "full panoply of rights" afforded a defendant in a criminal prosecution do not apply to a supervision revocation proceeding. Therefore, as the Supreme Court ruled in Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973), there is not constitutional right to legal representation at a supervision revocation hearing. Instead, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.1 governs due process in the context of a supervision revocation hearing. Consequently, the court was not required to perform the 14-point inquiry enunciated in Peppers. The Third Circuit concluded that a defendant has been afforded due process in accordance with Rule 32.1 if his waiver of rights is knowing and voluntary under a totality of the circumstances standard. The Third Circuit interpreted this standard to require only that the court inform the defendant of the charges against him, the evidence supporting those charges, the penalties he faces, the rights he possesses and the consequences of relinquishing those rights. As the totality of the circumstances indicated that Defendant had knowingly and voluntarily waived legal representation, the district court did not err.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Double Jeopardy Claim Falls Short on Deferential Habeas Review

In the habeas matter of Wilkerson v. Superintendent Fayette SCI, Nos. 15-1598 & 15-2673, the Third Circuit defers to a state court determination that the defendant’s conviction of both an attempted murder count and an aggravated assault count based on the same altercation did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause.
The evidence was that during the altercation, the defendant both struck the victim in the head with a gun and shot him in the chest. The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld consecutive sentences on the theory that the evidence was sufficient to permit a jury to find the striking to support one count and the shooting the other. Despite the jury instructions’ and verdict form’s failure to require each of these discrete findings, the Third Circuit holds that the state court’s reasoning was sound enough to withstand deferential review the AEDPA’s “clearly established Federal law” limitation. “[W]here the jury instructions were merely ambiguous and did not foreclose the jury…

Mailing Threatening Communications is a Crime of Violence and a Judicial Proposal for Reform of the Categorical Approach

In United States v. Chapman, __F.3d__, No. 16-1810, 2017 WL 3319287 (3d Cir. Aug. 4, 2017), the Third Circuit held that mailing a letter containing any threat to injure the recipient or another person in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876(c) qualifies as a crime of violence for the purposes of the career offender enhancements of the Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 4B1.1(a).The Court acknowledged in a footnote that the analysis is the same for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 871, threats against the president.


The Court began its analysis by reviewing the definition of “crime of violence” and specifically the meaning of the words “use” and “physical force.”Quoting United States v. Castleman, 134 S. Ct. 1405 (2014), and Tran v. Gonzales, 414 F.3d 464 (3d Cir. 2005), it defined “use” as “the intentional employment of force, generally to obtain some end,” which conveys the notion that the thing used “has become the user’s instrument.” The Court confirmed the definition of “physical force” as “force ca…

A Traffic Stop Followed by a Summons is not an Intervening Arrest for Sentencing Guidelines Purposes

In United States v. Ley, __ F.3d __, 2017 WL 5618617 (3d Cir., Nov. 22, 2017), the Third Circuit held that a traffic stop, followed by the issuance of a summons, is not an intervening arrest for the purpose of calculating a defendant’s prior convictions under USSG § 4A1.2(a)(2).   Defendant John Francis Ley received two speeding tickets on two consecutive days.  After writing each ticket, the police released Ley and informed him that the matter would proceed via summons.  No arrest was made and Ley was sentenced for both matters on the same day. The District Court, however, held that the issuance of the summons constituted an intervening arrest for the purposes of the Guidelines and each ticket therefore merited an individual criminal history point.  Ley appealed.  Looking at the ordinary meaning of both “arrest” and “summons,” as well as the Supreme Court’s history of distinguishing arrests from other interactions with law enforcement, the Third Circuit, joining three other circuits …