U.S. v. Garcia, No. 90-6266

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HALL, Circuit Judge, BUTZNER, Senior Circuit Judge, and MICHAEL; K.K. HALL
Citation956 F.2d 41
Docket NumberNo. 90-6266
Decision Date02 March 1992
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Daniel GARCIA, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 41

956 F.2d 41
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Daniel GARCIA, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 90-6266.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fourth Circuit.
Argued Oct. 3, 1991.
Decided Jan. 31, 1992.
As Amended March 2, 1992.

Page 42

Stanley K. Joynes, III, LeClair, Ryan & Joynes, P.C., Richmond, Va., argued, for defendant-appellant.

Thomas Phillip Swaim, Asst. U.S. Atty., Raleigh, N.C., argued (Margaret Person Currin, U.S. Atty., on brief), for plaintiff-appellee.

Before HALL, Circuit Judge, BUTZNER, Senior Circuit Judge, and MICHAEL, District Judge for the Western District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

OPINION

K.K. HALL, Circuit Judge:

Daniel Garcia appeals the district court's denial of his 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate or correct his sentence because of an alleged breach of his plea agreement by the government. We reverse and remand.

I.

Appellant Daniel Garcia is a native of Colombia. He speaks almost no English. In 1986, he sold twenty kilograms of cocaine to a government informant, and on November 28 of that year, he was charged in a thirteen-count indictment with conspiracy to possess and deliver cocaine. Plea negotiations quickly ensued.

The government offered to recommend a ten-year sentence if Garcia would agree to plead guilty to one count of the indictment and to cooperate in the drug-trafficking investigation. Garcia feared for the safety of himself and his family in Colombia if he implicated his superiors in the distribution network; accordingly, he turned down the plea offer.

The government then offered to delete the requirement that Garcia cooperate. To compensate for this deletion, the government proposed to increase its recommended sentence to fifteen years. Notwithstanding the much stiffer sentence, Garcia agreed. By letter dated February 13, 1987, the government sent Garcia's counsel a proposed plea agreement. The letter stated that it memorialized an oral agreement reached by telephone the previous day. The first term recounted in the letter was:

In return for this guilty plea to Count One of the Indictment, the government will (a) not require as part of the plea agreement that the defendant cooperate with law enforcement,....

According to the letter, "[a] copy of the plea agreement containing these terms is attached for your review." However, the written plea agreement did not actually contain a provision stating that Garcia was not required to cooperate.

On February 19, 1987, the district court accepted Garcia's guilty plea pursuant to the plea agreement. A full Fed.R.Cr.P. 11 hearing was held; Garcia participated through an interpreter. The court imposed the recommended fifteen-year sentence on May 18, 1987.

Just short of a month later, on June 17, 1987, the same United States Attorney's office had Garcia subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. On September 8, 1987, Garcia appeared, refused to testify, and stated that he had not been given an opportunity

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to contact his counsel. The court permitted him to telephone his attorney. He did so, returned to the grand jury room, and again refused to testify.

On October 13, 1987, Garcia was again brought to the grand jury. Outside the grand jury room, with Garcia's counsel present, the government offered him a letter of immunity and entry into the Federal Witness Protection Program for him and his immediate family. He again refused to testify.

On February 19, 1988, the district court 1 found Garcia in contempt and sentenced him to confinement until he purged the contempt or eighteen months expired. Garcia did not testify, and the eighteen months passed. He received no credit against his underlying fifteen-year sentence for the time served for contempt. Garcia's counsel failed to file an appeal from the finding of contempt.

On June 14, 1988, Garcia sent two pro se § 2255 motions from his place of confinement at a federal prison in Seagoville, Texas. One, seeking relief from the finding of contempt because of ineffectiveness of counsel (failure to file an appeal), was sent to Judge Britt, and was received and filed June 20, 1988. The other, seeking to set aside the conviction and withdraw the guilty plea because of an alleged breach of the plea agreement, was sent to Judge Boyle, and was received and filed June 21, 1988. 2

The motion filed before Judge Britt was dismissed June 21, 1989. Garcia did not appeal this judgment. The motion before Judge Boyle was dismissed on September 11, 1989. The court ruled that the plea agreement was unambiguous and did not contain a "no cooperation required" clause; therefore, the parol evidence rule barred consideration of the extrinsic evidence that the government made such a promise. This latter order is the subject of this appeal.

II.

The leading Fourth Circuit case on the relationship of commercial contract law to plea agreements is United States v. Harvey, 791 F.2d 294 (4th Cir.1986). 3 This comprehensive quote from Harvey summarizes our law on the subject:

In the process of determining whether disputed plea agreements have been formed or performed, courts have necessarily drawn on the most relevant body of developed rules and principles of private law, those pertaining to the formation and interpretation of commercial contracts. But the courts have recognized that those rules have to be applied to plea agreements with two things in mind which may require their tempering in particular cases. First, the defendant's underlying "contract" right is constitutionally based and therefore reflects concerns that differ fundamentally from and run wider than those of commercial contract law. Second, with respect to federal prosecutions, the courts' concerns run even wider than protection of the defendant's individual constitutional rights--to concerns for the "honor of the government, public confidence in the fair administration of justice, and the effective administration of justice in a federal scheme of government."

* * * * * *

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84 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Hadden, No. 03-7508.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • February 7, 2007
    ...§ 2255 remedy is broad and flexible, and entrusts to the courts the power to fashion an appropriate remedy," United States v. Garcia, 956 F.2d 41, 45 (4th Cir.1992), § 2255 lists the four remedies that are appropriate: (1) "discharge the prisoner," (2) "grant [the prisoner] a new trial," (3......
  • U.S. v. Crowder, No. 1:92-cr-0079.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
    • October 28, 1996
    ...appropriate relief. Andrews v. United States, 373 U.S. 334, 339, 83 S.Ct. 1236, 1239, 10 L.Ed.2d 383 (1963); United States v. Garcia, 956 F.2d 41, 45 (4th Cir.1992); Grimes v. United States, 607 F.2d 6, 8 (2nd There is nothing in the text of Section 2255 which limits the Court's jurisdictio......
  • U.S. v. Smith, No. CRIM.A.2:93CR162-11.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • August 4, 1999
    ...guilty plea. The integrity of the plea bargaining process requires that the plea agreement be given great weight. United States v. Garcia, 956 F.2d 41, 44-45 (4th Cir.1992). Yet the outside possibility of a constitutional deficiency means that the courts do not review plea agreements under ......
  • Ferrara v. U.S., No. Civ. 00-11693-MLW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • April 12, 2005
    ..."The § 2255 remedy is broad and flexible, and entrusts to the courts the power to fashion an appropriate remedy." United States v. Garcia, 956 F.2d 41, 45 (4th Cir.1992) (citing Andrews v. United States, 373 U.S. 334, 339, 83 S.Ct. 1236, 10 L.Ed.2d 383 (1963)). This is so because a district......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
84 cases
  • U.S. v. Hadden, No. 03-7508.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • February 7, 2007
    ...§ 2255 remedy is broad and flexible, and entrusts to the courts the power to fashion an appropriate remedy," United States v. Garcia, 956 F.2d 41, 45 (4th Cir.1992), § 2255 lists the four remedies that are appropriate: (1) "discharge the prisoner," (2) "grant [the prisoner] a new trial," (3......
  • U.S. v. Crowder, No. 1:92-cr-0079.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
    • October 28, 1996
    ...appropriate relief. Andrews v. United States, 373 U.S. 334, 339, 83 S.Ct. 1236, 1239, 10 L.Ed.2d 383 (1963); United States v. Garcia, 956 F.2d 41, 45 (4th Cir.1992); Grimes v. United States, 607 F.2d 6, 8 (2nd There is nothing in the text of Section 2255 which limits the Court's jurisdictio......
  • U.S. v. Smith, No. CRIM.A.2:93CR162-11.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • August 4, 1999
    ...guilty plea. The integrity of the plea bargaining process requires that the plea agreement be given great weight. United States v. Garcia, 956 F.2d 41, 44-45 (4th Cir.1992). Yet the outside possibility of a constitutional deficiency means that the courts do not review plea agreements under ......
  • Ferrara v. U.S., No. Civ. 00-11693-MLW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • April 12, 2005
    ..."The § 2255 remedy is broad and flexible, and entrusts to the courts the power to fashion an appropriate remedy." United States v. Garcia, 956 F.2d 41, 45 (4th Cir.1992) (citing Andrews v. United States, 373 U.S. 334, 339, 83 S.Ct. 1236, 10 L.Ed.2d 383 (1963)). This is so because a district......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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