United States v. Freeman (2nd Cir. November 2021)

The Federal Docket

December 13, 2021

Rico Freeman pled guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine under 21 U.S.C. § 846, but before sentencing, he moved to withdraw that plea, claiming that the district court had misstated the applicable mandatory minimum term of supervised release during the plea. The district court denied that motion, holding the error harmless in light of Freeman’s guideline range.

On appeal the Second Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision, but took care to note that both parties had incorrectly stated that Freeman bore the burden of persuasion to show that the district court’s Rule 11 error had affected his substantial rights. Under Vonn, it is the Government’s burden to show such an error was harmless.

Appeal from the Western District of New York
Opinion by Sullivan, joined by Park and Nardini

Click here to read the opinion

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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