Rosales-Mireles v. U.S.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
  • Date Filed: September 28, 2017
  • Case #: 16-9493
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 850 F.3d 246 (5th Cir. 2017)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Court's discretionary inquiry under harmless error review, which requires the error to "seriously affect[] the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings,” may be expressed and applied as an error that "would shock the conscience of the common man, serve as a powerful indictment against our system of justice, or seriously call into question the competence or integrity of the district judge.”

Petitioner pleaded guilty to illegal re-entry. A probation officer miscounted the points for Petitioner's sentencing assessment score. The error placed Petitioner in a sentencing guideline range of 77–96 months. Petitioner requested 41 months, but was sentenced by the federal district court to 78 months and did not object to the determination. On appeal to the Fifth Circuit, the court noted that the correct guideline range was 70–87 months. The Fifth Circuit declined to exercise its discretion to reverse the sentence, because it held the error "would [not] shock the conscience of the common man, serve as a powerful indictment against our system of justice, or seriously call into question the competence or integrity of the district judge,” pursuant to United States v. Segura, 747 F.3d 323, 331 (5th Cir. 2014), despite finding Petitioner satisfied the other three prongs of harmless error review. On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Petitioner argues that the Fifth Circuit applied an erroneous, heightened standard for harmless error. Petitioner reasons that the appropriate fourth prong of the analysis is limited to whether the error "seriously affects the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings,” pursuant to United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725 (1993). Petitioner submits there is inconsistent rulings under the Segura standard, causing less predictability in plain error doctrine. Petitioner requests the Court to clarify the standard.  

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