USA v. Mamoth, No. 21-40422 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Defendant appealed his guilty plea conviction for attempted bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 2113(a). Defendant contends that the district court violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1) by improperly involving itself in plea negotiations and that he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation. Defendant, now represented by counsel, asserts that the district court violated Rule 11(c)(1) by participating in plea negotiations before the parties reached an agreement. Second, he contends that his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation was violated during the plea-bargaining process.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed holding that Defendant failed to show reversible error. The court held that the district court’s participation in negotiations here was far less egregious than that in other cases requiring reversal under the harmless error standard. Here, Defendant indicated that he understood the plea agreement, that it was voluntarily entered, and that his decision to plead guilty was based on conversations between himself, standby counsel, and the prosecution. These facts fall short of demonstrating manifest injustice.
Further, the court concluded, that Defendant was not deprived of his right to self-representation. From April 29, 2020, the date Defendant elected to proceed pro se, to January 8, 2021, the date of the plea discussions at issue. The court could not say Defendant was deprived of his right to self-representation by virtue of his exclusion from this one conference. At all times, Defendant maintained “actual control” over the plea negotiations.