United States v. Ataya, 071717 FED6, 16-2611

Docket Nº:16-2611
Opinion Judge:SUTTON, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Hatem Ataya, M.D., Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Patricia Gaedeke, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee. Michael J. Stengel, STENGEL LAW FIRM, Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellant.
Judge Panel:Before: NORRIS, GIBBONS, and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 17, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
SUMMARY

Ataya pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. In his plea agreement, he relinquished any right to appeal his conviction or sentence “on any grounds.” Atatya nonetheless appealed. The Sixth Circuit directed the parties to brief the question of whether Ataya entered into the plea agreement as a whole knowingly and voluntarily. Ataya understood and accepted the... (see full summary)

 
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United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Hatem Ataya, M.D., Defendant-Appellant.

No. 16-2611

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 17, 2017

On Motion to Dismiss Appeal Based on Appeal Waiver in Plea Agreement Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:15-cr-20351-3-Sean F. Cox, District Judge.

ON MOTION:

Patricia Gaedeke, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

ON RESPONSE:

Michael J. Stengel, STENGEL LAW FIRM, Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellant.

Before: NORRIS, GIBBONS, and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.

ORDER

SUTTON, Circuit Judge.

Hatem Ataya pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. His plea agreement included an appellate waiver, in which he relinquished any right to appeal his conviction or sentence "on any grounds." R. 145 at 11-12. Atatya nonetheless appealed the judgment against him, and the government moved to dismiss on the basis of the waiver. While we agree with the government that Ataya knowingly waived his appellate rights, we are not convinced that Ataya entered into the plea agreement as a whole knowingly and voluntarily. We therefore refer this case to the merits panel to determine whether the plea agreement and the district court adequately informed Ataya of his plea's consequences, in particular any possibility of denaturalization, and if not whether any omissions constitute plain error.

There's no question at the outset about one feature of this case: Ataya knowingly waived his appellate rights. His plea agreement included a broad waiver provision, and the district court confirmed that Ataya understood and accepted the waiver's consequences.

But appellate waivers are parts of larger contracts, and they must "stand or fall with the agreements of which they are a part." United States v. Wenger, 58 F.3d 280, 282 (7th Cir. 1995). A defendant decides to waive the right to challenge his conviction in light of his understanding of the conviction's key consequences. If he misunderstands any of those consequences, that undermines the...

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