United States v. Pacheco, No. 16-1690 (1st Cir. 2019)

Annotate this Case
Justia Opinion Summary

The First Circuit dismissed without prejudice Appellant's appeal arguing that his firearms conviction and sentence violated double jeopardy protections, holding that the record as presented did not permit evaluation of Appellant's double jeopardy claim.

Appellant pled guilty to conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1962(d), and to using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. On appeal, Appellant argued that his firearms conviction and sentence violated the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against double jeopardy because the conviction and sentence duplicated his prior conviction and sentence for a firearms offense under Puerto Rico law. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal because the record contained only the untranslated, Spanish-language judicial documentation of the Puerto Rico firearms convictions, which is inadequate by terms of the Jones Act, 48 U.S.C. 864. The Court, however, dismissed the appeal without prejudice to Appellant's right to raise his double jeopardy claim on the basis of translated records in future, collateral-review proceedings.

Download PDF
United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit No. 16-1690 UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. KENNY O. PACHECO, Defendant, Appellant. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO [Hon. Pedro A. Delgado-Hernández, U.S. District Judge] Before Kayatta, Circuit Judge, Souter, Associate Justice, and Selya, Circuit Judge. Jean C. LaRocque on brief for appellant. Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez, United States Attorney, Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States Attorney, and Francisco A. Besosa-Martínez, Assistant United States Attorney, on brief for appellee. April 5, 2019 Hon. David H. Souter, Associate Justice (Ret.) of the Supreme Court of the United States, sitting by designation. SOUTER, Associate Justice. Defendant Kenny Pacheco pleaded guilty to conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), and to using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). The District Court imposed consecutive sentences of 70 months in prison on the first offense and 60 months on the second. On appeal, Pacheco argues that his firearms conviction and sentence duplicate his prior conviction and sentence for a firearms offense under Puerto Rico law, and thus violate the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against double jeopardy. We conclude that the record as presented here does not permit evaluation of Pacheco's double jeopardy claim, containing as it does only the untranslated, Spanish-language judicial documentation of the Puerto Rico firearms conviction. This is inadequate by the terms of the Jones Act, 48 U.S.C. § 864, which prohibits federal courts from considering untranslated documents. We accordingly dismiss the appeal, but we do so without prejudice to Pacheco's right to raise his double jeopardy claim on the basis of translated records in future, collateral-review proceedings. I Before reaching the difficulty with the double jeopardy claim, however, we must resolve - 2 - a threshold issue: whether Pacheco's plea agreement waiving his right to appeal in some circumstances bars the claim on appeal. We conclude it does not. A waiver of appellate rights is enforceable provided that, among other things, the defendant "enter[ed] into the waiver 'knowingly and voluntarily.'" Sotirion v. United States, 617 F.3d 27, 33 (1st Cir. 2010) (quoting United States v. Teeter, 257 F.3d 14, 24 (1st Cir. 2001)). The "text of the written plea agreement and the change-of-plea colloquy are of critical importance" to the necessary enquiry, id.: a waiver may be treated as knowing and voluntary if the written plea agreement "clearly delineates the scope of the waiver," United States v. González-Colón, 582 F.3d 124, 127 (1st Cir. 2009), and if the change-of-plea colloquy shows that "the district court specifically inquired . . . about the waiver" by "questioning of the defendant" sufficient to establish "that the waiver was knowing and voluntary," id., with respect to any subsequently contested scope. The appeal waiver in Pacheco's plea agreement provided that he "knowingly and voluntarily waives the right to appeal the judgment and sentence in this case, provided that [he] is sentenced in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in the Sentence Recommendation provisions of this Plea Agreement." Agreement ¶ 9. dispute that Plea If our enquiry ended there, the absence of any the total of Pacheco's two sentences was "in accordance with the[se] terms and conditions" would point to an - 3 - effective knowing and voluntary waiver of the right to appeal the ensuing judgment and sentence actually imposed. As just explained, however, reference to the text does not mark the end of the enquiry, for we also look to the changeof-plea colloquy. Teeter, 257 F.3d at 24. At Pacheco's colloquy, the judge detailed the scope of Pacheco's waiver: "There may be a waiver of appeal in your particular Plea Agreements, but there is always the possibility of the right to appeal if a sentence is imposed illegally." Change-of-Plea Tr. 31-32. In stating that Pacheco could argue on appeal that his sentence was "imposed illegally," the judge seemed to "contradict the terms of the written waiver," Sotirion, 617 F.3d at 35, and he offered no "correction" or modification of that statement during the rest of the colloquy, Teeter, 257 F.3d at 27. To be sure, at a later point, the judge did tell Pacheco that he would be "waiving [his] right to appeal" if he was "sentenced according to the stipulations that appear in the Plea Agreement." Tr. 45. Change-of-Plea But the judge never told Pacheco that this subsequent statement meant that he would be foreclosed from arguing on appeal that such a sentence was "imposed illegally," id. at 32, or that a sentence is "imposed illegally" only if it conflicts with "the stipulations that appear in the Plea Agreement," id. at 32, 45. The upshot is that we "cannot say with the requisite assurance" that Pacheco's surrender of his appellate right "was - 4 - sufficiently informed," Teeter, 257 F.3d at 27, insofar as it would extend to a sentence characterized as "imposed illegally," as Pacheco claims of the firearms sentence. Indeed, in practical terms, the judge's explanation during the change-of-plea colloquy instructed Pacheco that his waiver was not as broad as the literal terms of the written agreement, and that he was not waiving the right to appeal any element of the subsequent sentence that could fairly be characterized as an "illegal" imposition. The Government did not object to the judge's explanation of the limit on the waiver, and naturally Pacheco had no objection to conceding less than he originally had bargained for. At his later sentencing hearing, Pacheco confirmed his understanding of the scope of his appeal waiver, making both the court and the Government fully aware of his position, and there were no objections or clarifications. He now seeks to enforce the limited scope of his waiver, as it appears to have been understood by all parties at the conclusion of the plea colloquy. Cf. United States v. Gil-Quezada, 445 F.3d 33, 37 & n.3 (1st Cir. 2006) (judge's comments at later disposition hearing have no bearing on extent of any waiver made at prior plea hearing but may "shed light upon the defendant's understanding at that time").1 1 Although our conclusion is a product of the colloquy at the change-of-plea hearing, see Gil-Quezada, 445 F.3d at 36-37, we have noted, as confirmation, that it is a conclusion accepted by the court and both parties at the later sentencing hearing. There, - 5 - That is the case here. Accordingly, the appeal waiver does not bar Pacheco's double jeopardy claim, which "call[s] into question the Government's power to 'constitutionally prosecute' him," Class v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 798, 805 (2018) (quoting United States v. Broce, 488 U.S. 563, 575 (1989)), as the premise of his contention that the ensuing sentence was illegally imposed. II Pacheco asserts that his federal firearms conviction duplicates his Puerto Rico firearms conviction because the federal conviction does not "require[] proof of a fact" beyond the facts required for his Puerto Rico conviction. States, 284 U.S. 299, 304 (1932). Blockburger v. United He says that the federal conviction requires proof that he used or carried a firearm "during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime," 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), and that conviction required proof of the same fact: his Puerto Rico Puerto Rico law provides that the use of an illegal weapon "to commit or attempt Pacheco's counsel explained that he was "not waiving his constitutional right to raise [a] double jeopardy claim" on appeal, Sentencing Hearing Tr. 7, and that he brought the double jeopardy issue to the District Court's attention so that it would be "understood to the Court that [he was] not waiving that right," id. at 8. The District Court acknowledged counsel's statements with a one-word answer: "Okay." Id. The Government, meanwhile, concedes that it did not object to counsel's statements. Appellee Br. 9. Because our conclusion does not rest on an "unpreserved Rule 11(b)(1)(N) error," there is no occasion to apply the plainerror standard of review. United States v. Morillo, 910 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 2018). - 6 - to commit any crime" is "an aggravating circumstance" increases the statutory maximum punishment. that 25 L.P.R.A. § 458c. His position thus depends partly on whether he was convicted of the aggravated version of the Puerto Rico firearms offense. When we turn to evaluate the merits of this argument, however, we hit a roadblock. We cannot determine whether Pacheco was convicted of the aggravated version of the Puerto Rico offense because the record on appeal lacks English-language translations of the Spanish documentation of that earlier conviction, an absence that implicates the federal Jones Act. The Jones Act provides that all "pleadings and proceedings in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico shall be conducted in the English language," 48 U.S.C. § 864, and one consequence of the requirement that all "federal court proceedings must be conducted in English," United States v. Rivera-Rosario, 300 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2002), is that "federal judges must not consider any untranslated documents placed before them," United States v. Millán-Isaac, 749 F.3d 57, 64 (1st Cir. 2014). As relevant here, that rule prohibits federal courts from considering any untranslated, "Spanish-language copy of a Puerto Rico judgment of conviction." Rivas, 909 F.3d 466, 468, 470 (1st United States v. ReyesCir. 2018). The Act consequently bars us from taking account of the untranslated court documents bearing on Pacheco's Puerto Rico firearms conviction and - 7 - "requires that we set [them] aside" without attempting to render them into English. Id. at 470. Since the want of a record compliant with the Jones Act leaves us unable to determine the merits of Pacheco's argument, we dismiss his appeal. We take no position, however, on the underlying merits of his claim, and this dismissal is without prejudice to his right to raise it again in a future, collateralreview proceeding, as under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. So ordered. - 8 -

Primary Holding

The First Circuit dismissed without prejudice Appellant's appeal arguing that his firearms conviction and sentence violated double jeopardy protections, holding that the record as presented did not permit evaluation of Appellant's double jeopardy claim.

Disclaimer: Justia Annotations is a forum for attorneys to summarize, comment on, and analyze case law published on our site. Justia makes no guarantees or warranties that the annotations are accurate or reflect the current state of law, and no annotation is intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice. Contacting Justia or any attorney through this site, via web form, email, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship.