Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, September 27, 2013

Castro: Equally Plausible that district court comment did not affect plea

In U.S. v. Castro, No. 12-12927 (Sept. 26, 2013), the Court affirmed Castro’s convictions, in light of the recent holding in U.S. v. Davila, 133 S.Ct. 2139 (2013) that judicial participation in plea discussions does not result in automatic vacatur of the plea, but instead requires consideration of whether, but for the district court’s comment, the defendant would have gone to trial. During the plea colloquy, in response to the defendant’s statement that no longer wanted to plead guilty, the district court advised the defendant of adverse consequences of renouncing his plea agreement. The Court held that Castro failed to explain how the comment affected his decision. The Court noted when Castro decided to change his plea to guilty, he signed another copy of his plea agreement and stated that he had not been pressured to plead guilty. Although it was plausible that Castro decided to plea guilty because of the comment of the district court, it was “equally plausible” that he pled guilty to shorten the duration of his inevitable sentence.