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Puckett v. United States

Docket No.: 07-9712
Certiorari Granted: 10/1/2008
Argued: January 14, 2009
Decided: March 25, 2009

PartyNames: James Benjamin Puckett v. United States
Petitioner: James Benjamin Puckett
Respondent: United States

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

James Benjamin Puckett
v.
United States
Consideration Limited:

GRANTED LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTION: "WHETHER A FORFEITED CLAIM THAT THE GOVERNMENT BREACHED A PLEA AGREEMENT IS SUBJECT TO THE PLAIN-ERROR STANDARD OF RULE 52(b) OF THE FEDERAL RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE."

Question Presented:

I. Did the Fifth Circuit violate the doctrines set forth in Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257 (1971) when it applied a "plain error" standard of review to Defendant's appeal based on the government's admitted breach of the plea agreement and Defendant did not object to said breach at the time of sentencing? II. Even if "plain error" is the correct standard of review when a defendant does not object at sentencing to the Government's breach of a plea agreement, did the Fifth Circuit err when it failed to find "plain error" was established when the breach of the plea agreement was admitted and the plea was obtained in exchange for clear promises that the Government failed to keep?

Question:

Does Rule 52(b) in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the "plain error standard", govern whether a defendant can claim the government breached a plea agreement at the appellate level, when he failed to do so at the trial level?

Note:

THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI IS

Holding: affirmed
Vote: 7-2
Opinion By: Justice Antonin Scalia
Read PUCKETT V. UNITED STATES opinion (PDF)
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