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United States v. Adams

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

September 25, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee, DENNIS MCCADE, TRENTON GARY, also known as Tito, BRIAN EVINS, DENTE RYAN, also known as Taz, VERNAL HENRY, also known as Vernal Allen, also known as the Brit, KELLY CAMPBELL, DAVID MONTERO, also known as Dirty, Defendants,
v.
DAVID ADAMS, Defendant-Appellant

Argued April 25, 2014

Page 220

On appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Griesa, J.) following a plea of guilty convicting Appellant of one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms and more of marijuana, Appellant asserts that his plea of guilty was invalid because the court did not inquire about the effect of his heart condition and the medications he was taking on his ability knowingly and voluntarily to enter a guilty plea. Notwithstanding that a two-year period elapsed between when defendant changed his plea and when he was sentenced, defendant raised no objection to the validity of his plea either during that period or at the time of sentencing, and Appellant has introduced no evidence to demonstrate that but for the trial court not inquiring about the effect of his heart condition and the related medications on his ability knowingly and voluntarily to enter a plea, he would not have entered a guilty plea. On review for plain error, we AFFIRM the judgment of conviction.

JANIS M. ECHENBERG (BRENT S. WIBLE, on the brief), for PREET BHARARA, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, New York, NY, for Appellee.

JULIA P. HEIT, ESQ., New York, NY, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before: WALKER, HALL, Circuit Judges, and MURTHA, District Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 221

Per Curiam:

Defendant-Appellant David Adams (" Defendant" or " Adams" ) appeals from a judgment of conviction entered after his plea of guilty on December 7, 2012, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Griesa, J.), convicting him of one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846. The district court sentenced Adams principally to a term of 210 months' imprisonment, to be followed by a five-year term of supervised release. Adams contends that his plea should be vacated because the district court violated Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure when it failed to inquire during the plea allocution about the possible impact his heart condition and medications had on his ability to enter a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary plea. For largely the same reasons, Adams further argues that the appeal waiver in the Plea Agreement, by which he waived the right to challenge a sentence within a stipulated range, is also invalid. Finally, Adams contends that his sentence was substantively unreasonable, and violates the Eighth Amendment. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

Background

I. Adams's Plea

In December 2009, Adams was arrested, along with three other co-defendants, for running a large-scale marijuana-trafficking operation. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms and more of marijuana. Approximately a year later, pursuant to a plea agreement (the " Plea Agreement" ), Adams pleaded guilty to the charge.

In the Plea Agreement, Adams and the government (" the parties" ) stipulated to an offense level of 37 under the Sentencing Guidelines and a guidelines range of 210 to 262 months' imprisonment (the " Stipulated Guidelines Range" ). The parties agreed to seek neither " a downward nor an upward departure from" that range. " The parties further agree[d] that a sentence within the Stipulated Guidelines Range would constitute a reasonable sentence in light of all the factors set forth in" 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), but that either party could, directly or indirectly, seek a sentence outside the stipulated range based on § 3553(a) factors. Additionally, by entering into the Plea Agreement, Adams " agreed . . . not [to] file a direct appeal . . . [of] any sentence within or below the Stipulated Guidelines Range" and " waive[d] any and all right to withdraw his plea or attack his conviction, ...


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