United States v. Harrell, No. 11-15680 (11th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Defendants Harrell and Dantzle appealed from their convictions for conspiracy to commit robbery; two counts of robbery in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951(a); and two counts of having used, carried, or possessed a firearm in relation to the robberies in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A). The court concluded that Harrell met his burden in establishing that the district court's violation of Rule 11(c)(1), by improperly participating in the parties' plea negotiations, constituted reversible plain error. The district court vacated the conviction and allowed Harrell to withdraw his guilty plea on remand. The court also directed that the case be reassigned. The court concluded that, although the district court abused its discretion in allowing the government to present expert testimony from a detective with respect to cell phones and cell towers, the testimony was harmless because it did not affect Dantzle's substantial rights. The court rejected Dantzle's remaining arguments. Accordingly, the court affirmed Dantzle's convictions and sentence.