United States v. Arqueta-Ramos

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-20-2013
  • Case #: 10-10618
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Circuit Judges Berzon and Fernandez
  • Full Text Opinion

When taking pleas en masse as part of an “Operation Streamline” proceeding, a court must still confirm individually with each defendant that the defendant is aware of her rights.

On December 29, 2009, Delcia Arqueta-Ramos was charged with illegally entering the U.S. Under “Operation Streamline”, a program for mandatory prosecution of illegal border crossing, a procedure for accepting pleas en masse has been developed to ease the strain on U.S. attorneys while still “preserv[ing] the rudiments of [Fed. R. Crim. P. 11] and the [C]onstitution.” Arqueta-Ramos requested a hearing outside of the en masse process, charging that the procedure did not comply with Rule 11, but was denied by the magistrate. In Arqueta-Ramos’ hearing, there were sixty-six defendants present, sent in groups of five to have the judge apprise them of their rights. In these groups, the judge accepted the answers from counsel as “all answer yes” or “all answer no.” Arqueta-Ramos’ guilty plea was entered over her renewed objection to the process and she was deported. She appealed to the district court, which affirmed her conviction. She then appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Extending the reasoning of a previous case where the defendants had been questioned as an entire sixty-seven person group, the Court held that even breaking down the defendants into small groups did not “render the court’s general advisement sufficiently ‘personal’ so as to satisfy Rule 11(b)(1).” Reviewing for harmless error, the Court looked to see if Arqueta-Ramos would have entered the guilty plea anyways if she had been properly informed of her rights by the court. In this case, Arqueta-Ramos’ only personal interaction with the magistrate was her stating her plea, without answering any other individual questions, and the Ninth Circuit held that this was not enough to carry the government’s burden. VACATED and REMANDED.

Advanced Search