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Plain Error and Plea Bargains

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This morning the U.S. Supreme Court decided Puckett v. United States, No. 07-9712, dealing with plain-error review of a claim that the prosecution breached a plea bargain when that claim was not preserved in the district court. FRCrP 52(b) and United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725 (1993) are binding only in federal criminal cases, but the SCOTUS interpretation is likely to be persuasive in state courts, especially in states that have xeroxed the federal rules.

So, plain error review applies. Did you really expect to get the "acceptance of responsibility" discount, Mr. Puckett, when you commit further crimes while awaiting sentencing? Get real. It would be a good idea, though, to write into the agreement itself a condition that promises to recommend leniency are off if the defendant commits another crime in the interim.

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Souter's dissent is uniquely unconvicing.

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