USA v. Rafael Cruz
UNPUBLISHED OPINION FILED. [14-40558 Affirmed ] Judge: FPB , Judge: LHS , Judge: GJC. Mandate pull date is 06/01/2015 for Appellant Rafael Cruz [14-40558]
Date Filed: 05/11/2015
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
United States Court of Appeals
May 11, 2015
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Lyle W. Cayce
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Texas
USDC No. 7:13-CR-1444-1
Before BENAVIDES, SOUTHWICK and COSTA, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM: *
Rafael Cruz appeals his guilty plea conviction and sentence for
conspiracy to commit hostage taking.
He argues that his guilty plea is
involuntary because the district court violated Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 11(c)(1) by improperly participating in plea negotiations.
Specifically, he asserts that the district court made statements to his
Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not
be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH
CIR. R. 47.5.4.
Date Filed: 05/11/2015
codefendant, Roberto Cruz, at the rearraignment proceeding explaining that a
lesser sentence might result from a guilty plea.
Because Rafael Cruz did not object on this basis in the district court, this
court reviews for plain error. See United States v. Davila, 133 S. Ct. 2139,
2148-50 (2013) (rejecting contention that improper participation in plea
discussions under Rule 11 requires automatic vacatur rather than analysis
under the ordinary harmless and plain error standards); United States v. Vonn,
535 U.S. 55, 58-59 (2002).
Rafael Cruz fails to show that the district court participated in any
discussions during plea negotiations. The statements of which he complains
were made by the district court after Rafael Cruz’s plea agreement had been
negotiated by the parties and disclosed to the district court. There is nothing
in the record to show a reasonable probability that the district court’s remarks
to Roberto influenced Rafael Cruz’s decision to plead guilty. Thus, he fails to
show error, much less reversible plain error, by the district court. See Puckett
v. United States, 556 U.S. 129, 135 (2009).
The judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.
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