USA V. CYNTHIA MONTOYA, No. 21-50129 (9th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Defendant argued that she should be able to withdraw her guilty plea at the sentencing hearing because the district court “rejected” the non-binding sentencing recommendation under Rule 11(c)(1)(B). She asserted that the district court erred by not allowing her to withdraw her guilty plea because it supposedly treated her plea agreement as a binding plea agreement under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C).
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the criminal judgment. Reviewing for plain error, the panel held that Defendant had no right to withdraw her plea. Explaining that the district court’s use of “reject” in the context of Rule 11(c)(1)(B) plea agreement has no legal effect, the panel wrote that the “rejection” of a recommended sentence under a Rule 11(c)(1)(B) agreement could logically mean only that the court rejected the recommendation itself, and the district court thus did not plainly err in not providing Defendant an opportunity to withdraw her plea. The panel wrote that Defendant was permitted to withdraw her guilty plea before sentencing only if she could show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal and that she has not done so. The panel held that Defendant’s remaining arguments fail. The magistrate judge’s failure to specifically mention a “jury” trial during the plea colloquy, as required by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(b)(1)(C), did not affect Defendant’s substantial rights. The district court properly considered and explained its reasons for rejecting Defendant’s variance requests. The district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a 100-month sentence.