Jack Robison, Fairton, N.J., pro se.
Robert W. Donaldson, Asst. U.S. Atty., Detroit, Mich., for respondent-appellee.
Before MARTIN and JONES, Circuit Judges; and EDGAR, District Judge.*
EDGAR, District Judge.
Petitioner-appellant Jack Robison appeals the district court's denial of his motion to vacate or set aside his sentence. He argues that his sentence was imposed in violation of a plea agreement entered in the Eastern District of North Carolina. As we find no breach of the agreement, we AFFIRM.
Robison, a participant in a multistate marijuana importation scheme, was indicted on June 13, 1986, in the Eastern District of North Carolina for interstate travel in aid of racketeering. On June 20, 1986, he was indicted in the Eastern District of Michigan on various other marijuana trafficking charges. Pursuant to a plea agreement dated October 16, 1986, he pled guilty in the Eastern District of North Carolina to two counts of unlawfully traveling between Michigan and North Carolina to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute it. This plea agreement contained the following provision: "The Government agrees ... [t]hat the defendant will not be further prosecuted for any activities which arose in the Western District of Louisiana." On November 12, 1986, Robison, represented by counsel, pled guilty in the Eastern District of Michigan to attempting to possess with intent to distribute approximately 300,000 pounds of marijuana. This marijuana had been brought into Louisiana by an ocean going tugboat named "Bull Dog." Robison's role in the "Bull Dog" load was to arrange, from a location in Detroit, for trucks to transport the marijuana from Louisiana to Detroit. Robison also went to Louisiana and hauled one load himself.
On December 8, 1986, Robison was sentenced in the Eastern District of North Carolina to imprisonment for a term of five years followed by five years of probation and a $20,000 fine. On February 27, 1987, he was sentenced in the Eastern District of Michigan to a term of seven years to run concurrent with the North Carolina sentence.
Through counsel on June 22, 1987, Robison filed a post plea motion to reduce his sentence under Fed.R.Crim.P. 35. This motion was denied by the district court. Finally, on June 15, 1989, the defendant filed pro se a motion to vacate and set aside the Eastern District of Michigan sentence asserting that the North Carolina plea agreement had given him "blanket immunity" from prosecution in the Eastern District of Michigan for the "Bull Dog" activities. The district court denied this motion.
In Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 92 S.Ct. 495, 30 L.Ed.2d 427 (1971), the Supreme Court gave formal approval to plea bargaining as an essential and desirable practice in the administration of criminal justice and noted that the considerations justifying the practice "presuppose fairness in securing agreement between an accused and a prosecutor." Id. at 261, 92 S.Ct. at 498. "As a general rule, fundamental fairness means that the courts will enforce promises made during the plea bargaining process that induce a criminal defendant to waive his constitutional rights and plead guilty." Staten v. Neal, 880 F.2d 962, 963 (7th Cir.1989). In the present case, "[t]here is no question that an agreement was reached ... nor that [the] defendant has fully performed by pleading guilty, so that he is entitled to an appropriate remedy if the Government has breached the agreement." United States v. Harvey, 791 F.2d 294, 300 (4th Cir.1986) (citing Santobello, 404 U.S. 257, 92 S.Ct. at 496). Where a defendant fulfills his promise in entering a guilty plea, the prosecution is bound to fulfill any promise made in exchange. Santobello, 404 U.S. at 262, 92 S.Ct. at 499.
Robison raises the issue whether a United States Attorney in one judicial district may bind another in a plea agreement. See United States v. Carter, 454 F.2d 426 (4th Cir.1972) (en banc), cert. denied,
Plea agreements are contractual in nature. In interpreting and enforcing them, we are to use traditional principles of contract law. United States v. Fentress, 792 F.2d 461, 464 (4th Cir.1986); Baker v. United States, 781 F.2d 85, 90 (6th Cir.), cert. denied,
There can be no contract without a "meeting of the minds." Restatement (Second) of Contracts Sec. 17 comment c (1981). Whether or not there was a "meeting of the minds" depends, of course, on what the parties to the plea agreement intended. See United States v. Alessi, 544 F.2d 1139, 1153 (2d Cir.), cert. denied,
The circumstances of this case disclose that it was intended by neither the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina nor Robison that the North Carolina plea agreement have any effect on the prosecution in the Eastern District of Michigan. The decision of the district court is AFFIRMED.
* The Honorable R. Allan Edgar, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee, sitting by designation
This document cites
- U.S. Supreme Court - Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257 (1971)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit - United States of America, Appellee, v. William Eugene Carter, Appellant., 454 F.2d 426 (4th Cir. 1972)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Reuben Krasn, Defendant-Appellant., 614 F.2d 1229 (9th Cir. 1980)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit - United States of America, Appellee, v. Sami Annabi and Nedam Annabi, Defendants-Appellants., 771 F.2d 670 (2nd Cir. 1985)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit - David Wayne Baker, Petitioner-Appellant, v. United States of America, Respondent-Appellee., 781 F.2d 85 (6th Cir. 1986)
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