PEGUERO v. UNITED STATES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
97-9217
Petitioner 
Peguero
Respondent 
United States
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, argued the cause for the petitioner)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 1992, the District Court sentenced Manuel D. Peguero to 274 months of imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to federal drug charges. During sentencing, the court did not inform Peguero of his right to appeal the sentence. In 1996, in a later motion for habeas relief, Peguero claimed that the court violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(a)(2) by failing to advise him of his right to appeal. After an evidentiary hearing, the District Court found that, although it failed to advise Peguero of his right, he knew of his right when the sentencing hearing occurred. Thus the court, rejecting Peguero's claim that any violation of Rule 32 is enough to vacate a sentence, held that he was not entitled to relief because he was aware of his right to appeal at the time of sentencing. In affirming, the Court of Appeals held that a Rule 32 violation was subject to harmless-error review and concluded that the rule's purpose had been served since Peguero was aware of his right to appeal.

Question 

Does a District Court's failure to advise a defendant of his right to appeal, as required by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, provide ground for habeas relief when the defendant was aware of his right and elected not to appeal?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for United States, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or relevant rules of a circuit court)

No. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court held that "a district court's failure to advise the defendant of his right to appeal does not entitle him to habeas relief if he knew of his right and hence suffered no prejudice from the omission." Noting the importance of the rule and acknowledging that the omission was an error, Justice Kennedy stated "[t]rial judges must be meticulous and precise in following each of the requirements of Rule 32 in every case." The Court concluded that Rule 32 violations do not entitle defendants to relief in all circumstances, rather only when the defendant is prejudiced by the court's error.

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PEGUERO v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 01 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_9217>.
PEGUERO v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_9217 (last visited September 1, 2014).
"PEGUERO v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 1, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_9217.