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United States v. Mondragon

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

December 23, 2013

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Abraham Garcia MONDRAGON, Defendant-Appellant.

Argued and Submitted Oct. 10, 2013.

Page 1011

Robert Gombiner, Seattle, WA, for Defendant-Appellant.

Helen J. Brunner (argued), Assistant United States Attorney, and Jenny A. Durkan, United States Attorney, Western District of Washington, Seattle, WA, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Ronald B. Leighton, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 3:10-cr-05220-RBL-1.

Before: A. WALLACE TASHIMA, SUSAN P. GRABER, and MARY H. MURGUIA, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

GRABER, Circuit Judge:

Defendant Abraham Garcia Mondragon entered into a plea agreement after the jury had been empaneled in this criminal case. The district court accepted Defendant's guilty plea, declared a mistrial, and discharged the jury. After successfully moving to rescind his guilty plea, Defendant sought to avoid trial altogether by invoking the Double Jeopardy Clause's protection of his right to have the first empaneled jury decide his case. The district court concluded that the original district judge's acquiescence in Defendant's voluntary request to enter into plea negotiations in no way " goaded" Defendant into

Page 1012

consenting to a mistrial. Accordingly, the district court denied Defendant's motion to dismiss the superseding indictment. Reviewing de novo the legal questions raised on appeal, United States v. Lopez-Avila, 678 F.3d 955, 961 (9th Cir.2012), we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In 2010, the government indicted Defendant on several drug counts and a firearms count. On the first day of trial, before the jury had been selected, Defendant requested a settlement conference under Western District of Washington Local Rule 17.2. That rule allows a settlement conference with the assistance of a " settlement judge" : a federal judge who is not presiding over any portion of the criminal case.

Defendant specifically requested the assistance of Judge Ricardo S. Martinez. The prosecutor agreed to participate, but Judge Martinez was not available immediately. The presiding judge, Judge Benjamin H. Settle, decided to move forward with trial until Judge Martinez became available. The court empaneled and swore in the jury, and it gave preliminary instructions.

During an afternoon recess, the parties engaged in a settlement conference with Judge Martinez and reached a plea agreement. Defendant agreed to plead guilty, and the parties agreed to recommend a sentencing range of 12 to 17 years in prison. Judge Settle conducted a change-of-plea hearing and accepted Defendant's guilty plea. After Defendant expressly stated ...


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