Appellate & Post-Trial Litigation Blog

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

United States v. Davis

Most federal criminal cases are resolved through plea agreement. As a condition to such a plea, defendants often agree to waive their statutory right to appeal their conviction and sentence. While the appellate waiver wording varies by case, such waivers are generally enforceable in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Enforceability exists if the appellate waiver is unambiguous and the record demonstrates the defendant voluntarily entered into the agreement. Federal criminal appeals cases are replete with defendants being stymied by their own waiver. The recent Seventh Circuit decision of United States v. Davis reflects that trend. The defendant plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and in exchange for the dismissal of eight other counts, waived his appellate rights. Nevertheless, Davis appealed, contending his plea hearing by telephone conference violated federal criminal procedure rules. The Seventh Circuit disagreed, finding the appellate waiver precluded the Court from reaching the merits: “by signing a plea agreement waiving his right to appeal, Davis waived his right to appeal all errors.” Thus, criminal defendants must recognize the stark consequences of any plea agreement with an appellate waiver.

The decision can be read here.

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