Archive | appeal waiver

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

Defendants may not use a purported motion to correct a sentence under Rule 35 to circumvent an appeal waiver.

The Circuit held today, in United States v. Rakhmatov, No. 21-151(L) (2d Cir. Nov. 17, 2022), that “when a challenge to a prison sentence purportedly under [Fed. R. Crim. P.] 35(a) does not fall within the narrow scope of Rule 35(a), an appeal waiver can bar consideration of the motion.”

Rakhmatov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group. His plea agreement said he would not appeal or “otherwise challenge” any prison sentence of 150 months or less.

Three days after being sentenced to 150 months, Rakhmatov moved to correct the sentence, citing Rule 35(a).  The motion argued that the district court “failed to properly apply the sentencing factors,” producing a sentence that was “unreasonable” and “greater than necessary.”  The district court denied the motion, holding that it was not a proper Rule 35(a) motion and, in any event, was barred by the appeal waiver. …

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Categories: appeal waiver, Rule 35(a)

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Second Circuit Narrowly Construes Appellate Waiver and Holds That Embezzlement Is Not a Continuing Offense

In a short and interesting opinion, available here, the Second Circuit held today that (1) a defendant did not waive her right to appeal a restitution order on the ground that it covered conduct outside the statute of limitations period, and (2) that violations of 18 U.S.C. § 641 (embezzlement of government property) are not continuing offenses, rendering the defendant liable for funds embezzled outside the limitations period. See United States v. Green, No. 16-3044 (2d Cir. 2018) (Cabranes, Carney, Goldberg (Ct. Intl. Trade )) (appeal from W.D.N.Y.). The second of these holdings, concerning the scope of  § 641, creates a circuit split.

The defendant in Green was charged under § 641 for drawing money out of a joint bank account between 2009 and 2011 in amounts similar to those of VA payments to her deceased mother that went into the account. She pled guilty, and …

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Categories: appeal waiver, forfeiture, property, statute of limitations, statutory construction, statutory interpretation

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Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Ex-Facto Knife

United States v. Riggi, No. 09-4391-cr (2d Cir. August 10, 2011) (Jacobs, Wesley, Chin, CJJ)

Philip Abramo’s case has been running for several years. He was originally convicted after trial of murder and racketeering charges, and received a life sentence. But the circuit reversed, finding that the admission of eight of his co-conspirators’ plea allocutions violated Crawford. See The Three Racketeers, posted September 6, 2008. On remand, Abramo pled guilty to reduced charges, carrying an eighteen-year statutory maximum. His plea agreement used the 2008 guideline manual, under which his range exceeded eighteen years, making eighteen years his guideline sentence. It also contained an appeal waiver, under which Abramo agreed not to challenge any sentence of eighteen years or less.

At sentencing, Abramo pointed out a potential ex post facto violation. The Commission increased significantly the guidelines for murder conspiracy in 1990, but the conspiracy to which he pled guilty ended …

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Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Thoroughly Unappealing

United States v. Buissereth, No. 09-5358-cr (2d Cir. March 15, 2011) (Cabranes, Chin, CJJ, Crotty, DJ)

This decision found great fault with a sentencing that “left much to be desired.” The district court “failed to (1) rule on the numerous filed objections to the PSR; (2) rule on the requests for downward departures and a variance; (3) adopt the findings of the PSR; (4) mention, much less articulate its consideration of, the relevant factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a); or (5) calculate an applicable sentencing range under the Sentencing Guidelines.”

Nevertheless, the sentence was within the range specified in the plea agreement’s waiver clause, and the waiver was otherwise valid. The court accordingly dismissed the appeal. But it did note that,= the waiver did not “relieve the District Court of its responsibility to follow the procedural requirements related to the imposition of sentence,” even if it “preclude[d] this …

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Categories: appeal waiver, procedural reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Waiving Bye-Bye

United States v. Arevalo, No. 09-0576-cr (2d Cir. December 21, 2010) (Jacobs, Kearse, Straub, CJJ)

Defendant Manuel Vigil pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and using a firearm in connection with a crime of violence. He did so pursuant to a plea agreement that contained an appeal waiver – he promised not to “file an appeal or otherwise challenge” his conviction or sentence if the district court imposed a sentence of 195 months’ imprisonment or less.

When he was sentenced, although Vigil disputed certain facts in the presentence report, the district court did not resolve any of the disputes. It ultimately sentenced him to 157 months’ imprisonment.

Despite the waiver, Vigil filed a pro se notice of appeal. His attorney then filed an Anders brief, but the circuit bounced it. After counsel repeatedly ignored the court’s orders to cure the Anders brief, the court appointed …

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Categories: appeal waiver, Rule 32, Uncategorized

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Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Le Platt Du Jour

United States v. Woltmann, No. 10-413 (2d Cir. July 6, 2010) (Jacobs, Winter, Walker, CJJ)

Once again, Judge Platt’s unconventional way of doing business has resulted in a sentencing remand to a different judge. Here, the issue was his treating the guideline range in a plea agreement as binding, while ignoring a 5K1.1 letter and § 3553(a). This prompted the circuit to hold that the plea agreement’s appellate waiver was unenforceable and vacate the sentence.


Pursuant to a cooperation agreement, Gary Woltmann pled guilty to tax fraud, then provided substantial assistance to the government in the successful prosecution of another tax case. The government duly filed at 5K1.1 letter that expressly asked for a sentence below the 18 to 24 month guideline range. But Judge Platt refused to consider the letter, viewing it as an effort to repudiate the plea agreement, in which Woltmann had agreed not to appeal …

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Wednesday, December 16th, 2009


United States v. Hester, No. 08-4665-cr (2d Cir. December 16, 2009) (Winter, Cabranes, Hall CJJ) (per curiam)

After pleading guilty to two sex offenses in New York State, Hester was required to register as a sex offender. He completed his initial registration – which included explicit instructions that Hester update if he moved or changed jobs – and four change of address forms. Then, in April of 2007, he disappeared. Three months later, Hester was arrested on unrelated charges in Florida. He had neither registered as a sex offender there nor updated his New York registration.

Hester pled guilty to violating the Sex Offender Registration Act, “SORNA,” 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a), and was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment. On appeal, he raised three unsuccessful challenges to the statute: a due process claim that he had unsuccessfully litigated below and Commerce Clause and vagueness challenges that he had not.

The due …

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Categories: appeal waiver, due process, Sex offender registration, Uncategorized

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Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Cracked Up

United States v. Lee, No. 06-4933-cr (2d Cir. April 17, 2008) (Cabranes, Wesley, CJJ, Castel, DJ)

Defendant Cathy Lee received a 120-month sentence, the mandatory minimum, in a crack trafficking case. She raised on appeal a host of constitutional and statutory challenges to her sentence, claiming that it violated § 3535(a), the Eighth Amendment, and equal protection, in light of the powder-vs-crack sentencing disparities.

The court held that these claims were waived by the appellate waiver in Lee’s plea agreement. Although such waivers will not be enforced when an “arguably unconstitutional” consideration influenced the sentencing, there was no such consideration here. The equal protection argument with respect to crack sentences is a claim about the statute itself, not a claim that the court considered an improper factor at sentencing. Moreover, the court rejected the equal protection statutory argument nearly fifteen years ago, and no subsequent legal development – including Kimbrough …

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Categories: appeal waiver, crack, equal protection, Uncategorized

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Monday, December 17th, 2007

Not-So-Fast Track

United States v. Liriano-Blanco, No. 06-2919-cr (2d Cir. December 11, 2007) (Walker, Calabresi, Sack CJJ)

In this unusual case, the circuit entertained an appeal despite a waiver. Liriano-Blanco pled guilty to illegal reentry under a plea agreement in which he agreed to waive any appeal of a sentence of 60 months or less, with a Guideline range of 57 to 71 months. At his sentencing, he asked for a below-Guidelines sentence to avoid “the disparity caused by the existence of fast-track programs in other districts.” The district judge was sympathetic to this argument, and agreed that there was an unwarranted disparity. He indicated that he would like to give a four-level downward departure for this, but thought that he was not permitted to. Erroneously believing that Liriano-Blanco could appeal the sentence, the judge invited him to do so: “Hopefully, maybe, the Second Circuit may disagree with me and [I’ll] be …

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Categories: appeal waiver, fast-track disparity, Uncategorized

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