Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Padgett: Pro se Filing Stating Intent to File Collateral IAC Attack was not a Notice of Appeal

In United States v. Padgett, No. 16-16144 (Mar. 6, 2019) (Branch, Wilson, Vinson), the Court dismissed the defendant's appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

The defendant was subject to an appeal waiver and a 2255 waiver, with an exception for claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.  At and after sentencing, the defendant confirmed that he had waived his right to appeal.  Immediately after sentencing, the defendant filed a pro se filing in the district court, notifying the court of her intent to file a collateral attack based on effective assistance of counsel.  The district court docketed that filing as a notice of appeal.  In the Eleventh Circuit, the government moved to dismiss the appeal for failure to file a notice of appeal.  The Eleventh Circuit agreed.  Although it recognized that pro se pleadings are liberally construed, it concluded that the defendant was aware of her appellate waiver, and thus did not intend to file a notice of appeal but rather a collateral attack based on ineffective assistance (a claim typically brought collaterally, not on direct appeal).  Nor was the pro se filing the functional equivalent of a notice of appeal, as it failed to reference an appeal or an appellate court.  That the district court docketed the filing as a notice of appeal was not determinative. 

Judge Wilson dissented, opining that he would liberally construe the pro se filing as a notice of appeal, as the district court construed it as such, and it was properly filed in the district court within the 14-day period to appeal.