USA v. Ameyalli Escamilla-Roja, No. 10-10185 (9th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Defendant was arrested and charged with illegal entry into the United States and appeared at a group plea hearing in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona as part of the district's "Operation Streamline." At issue was whether the taking of guilty pleas at a large group plea hearing violated a criminal defendant's rights protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 and the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. The court held that any Rule 11(b)(1) error was harmless where defendant would not have changed her plea of guilty if the magistrate judge had conducted sixty-seven separate advisements of rights and that, although the district court failed to comply strictly with Rule 11(b)(2), such failure was not plain error where the record reflected that defendant's plea was fully informed and the record did not demonstrate that such a plea would have changed if the magistrate had expressly inquired into the voluntariness of her decision. The court also held that the record did not suggest that defendant misunderstood her rights or involuntarily entered her plea and there was no question that this procedure complied with due process. The court further held that the plea hearing did not deprive defendant of her right to counsel where she was provided with adequate, even superior, representation by counsel and failed to demonstrate a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different if counsel had not been temporarily separated from her during the group advisement. Accordingly, the court confirmed defendant's conviction and sentence.