Submitted: April 20, 2018
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Kansas City
WOLLMAN, LOKEN, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
direct criminal appeal, Christopher Padilla challenges the
sentence the district court imposed after he pleaded guilty
to drug and firearms charges. His counsel has moved to
withdraw and submitted a brief under Anders v.
California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), addressing whether the
sentence was based on procedural error, or was otherwise
substantively unreasonable, and stating there are no
non-frivolous issues, as Padilla was sentenced to the
careful review, we conclude that no plain procedural error
occurred, and any such error would have been harmless because
the district court sentenced Padilla to the statutory
minimum, see United States v. Henson, 550 F.3d 739,
740-41 (8th Cir. 2008); cf. United States v. Chacon,
330 F.3d 1065, 1066 (8th Cir. 2003); and that the sentence is
not subject to review for reasonableness, as it was
statutorily imposed, see United States v. Gregg, 451
F.3d 930, 937 (8th Cir. 2006).
independently reviewed the record under Penson v.
Ohio, 488 U.S. 75 (1988), and have found no
non-frivolous issues for appeal. With regard to the issue
identified in Judge Kelly's dissent, a criminal defendant
does not have "an absolute right to have his guilty plea
accepted by the court." Lynch v. Overholser,
369 U.S. 705, 719 (1962). At sentencing, Padilla's
attorney asked if the court would "allow Mr. Padilla to
enter pleas of guilty to Count One and Three, and then if we
would have a trial it would be solely on Count 2." The
government objected, and the court denied the request.
Padilla did not object to that ruling, which was not a plain
error abuse of the district court's discretion. After a
break in the hearing of approximately seventy five minutes,
during which Padilla had ample time to confer again with his
attorney, he returned to court and pleaded guilty to all
three counts. On this record, there is no basis for a claim
that Padilla's guilty plea to all three counts was not
knowing and voluntary, or a claim that the district court
denied his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.
we grant counsel's motion to withdraw and affirm.
Circuit Judge, dissenting.
November 23, 2016, Christopher Padilla came before the
district court to change his plea. During the course of the
hearing, the court asked the government to "establish
the factual basis the government would prove if th[e] case
were to go to trial." Padilla, through his attorney,
said he agreed to the factual bases underlying Counts 1 and
3, but had some reservations regarding Count 2. After further
discussion, Padilla's attorney asked-because Count 2 had
"been the main sticking point in this case"-if the
district court would "still allow Mr. Padilla to enter
pleas of guilty to Count One and Three, and then if we would
have a trial it would solely be on Count Two?" The
government objected, and the district court stated,
"I'm not willing to go down that path. I think the
charged counts are what he needs to plead guilty to, and we
either need to have a trial or a plea to the indictment as it
currently stands." Left with those two choices, Padilla
then pleaded guilty to all three counts in the indictment.
court notes, a defendant does not have "an absolute
right to have his guilty plea accepted by the court, "
Lynch, 369 U.S. at 719, under certain established
circumstances, see id. (citing Fed. R. Crim. P. 11
("Before the court accepts a plea of guilty . . ., the
court must inform the defendant of, and determine that the
defendant understands, [his rights, the nature of the
charges, and other sentencing considerations].")). But
based on the plea colloquy here-unlike in Lynch-it
appears Padilla understood the rights he was giving up by
pleading guilty, and that his plea to Counts 1 and 3 would
have been knowing and voluntary. Whether a district court has
the discretion to reject a voluntary guilty plea by a
competent defendant-for reasons of judicial efficiency or
otherwise-is, in my view, a non-frivolous issue. Compare
United States v. Michel-Galviz, 415 F.3d 946, 948 (8th
Cir. 2005) ("[A] district court has broad discretion in
deciding to accept or reject a guilty plea." (cleaned
up)), with id. ("A defendant has no absolute
right to plead guilty to a charge other than that in the
indictment." (emphasis added)), and United
States v. Carnahan, 684 F.3d 732, 737 (8th Cir. 2012)
("The discretion to reject a tendered guilty plea is
most often exercised when the defendant cannot or will not
provide the adequate factual basis for the plea . . .
."). Because I believe the record supports a
non-frivolous claim for appeal, see Penson, 488 U.S.
at 82-84 (1988), I respectfully dissent. I would deny
counsel's motion to withdraw and order additional
briefing on (1) whether the district court erred in ruling
that it would not accept Padilla's guilty plea to Counts
1 and 3 if he did not also plead guilty to Count 2 of the
indictment; and (2) whether in doing so, the district court
denied Padilla his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial on
The Honorable Beth Phillips, United
States District Judge for the Western District of