Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ruff: Appeal Waiver is valid

In U.S. v. Ruff, No. 09-16304 (Jan. 5, 2011), the Court dismissed an appeal because the defendant signed an appeal waiver in connection with his guilty plea.
The Court noted that appeal waivers are enforceable if they are knowing and voluntary. Here, Ruff understood the full significance of his appeal waiver.
The Court noted two exceptions to Ruff's appeal waiver: the imposition of a sentence above the statutory maximum, or an upward departure. Because Ruff pled guilty to, inter allia, possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, an offense for which the statutory maximum was life, and to possession of firearms as a convicted felon, which also carried a maximum of life because Ruff qualified as an armed career criminal, and because his sentence was 19 years, Ruff’s sentence did not exceed the statutory maximum.
The Court rejected Ruff’s argument that the erroneous imposition of a consecutive sentence resulted in an upward departure, and therefore was not subject to his appeal waiver. The Court noted that Ruff’s sentence was below the Guideline range, and therefore was not an upward departure. The Court added that Ruff’s consecutive sentence challenge was now foreclosed by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Abbott v. U.S

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