By Lauren D. Emery
Today in United States v. Eades, the Fourth Circuit considered Kevin Eades’s appeal from the district court’s judgment sentencing him to 120 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The court also ruled on the Government’s motion to dismiss which claimed that Eades had agreed to waive his appellate rights during his sentencing. In a per curiam opinion, the court dismissed the appeal in part–to the extent that Eades contested his sentence–and affirmed in part–because Eades’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim was beyond the scope of the waiver.
First, Eades contended that his waiver of the right to appeal, agreed to at his sentencing, was voidable for lack of consideration. The court rejected this argument saying that, “Eades received valuable consideration when the Government, in good faith, forbore its pursuit of the Armed Career Criminal sentencing enhancement.” Furthermore, the court declared that the Government’s refusal to pursue such enhanced sentencing does not render the waiver void for illegal consideration. In contrast to United States v. Williams, 488 F.3d 1004, 1011 (D.C. Cir. 2007), which held that the Government couldn’t agree to plea bargains that circumvented mandatory minimum sentences, the government may lawfully forbear from pursuing enhanced sentencing.
Second, Eades argued that he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to appeal. After examining the totality of the circumstances, the court rejected this argument as well. The court cited the district court’s explanation of the implications of waiver at Eades’s sentencing and the fact that Eades confirmed two times that the understood the implications of the waiver. Therefore, the court dismissed Eades’s appeal to the extent that it challenged his sentence and the validity of his plea because it was barred by waiver.
Finally, Eades claimed that his trial court counsel was ineffective for advising him to agree to the appeal waiver. The court found that this claim was not barred by waiver and therefore need not be dismissed. Instead, it declared that these claims must be brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to allow for the development of the record as to that issue.