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Media Alerts - U.S. v. Mark T. Manuel, Jr. - Third Circuit
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October 22, 2013
  U.S. v. Mark T. Manuel, Jr. - Third Circuit
Headline: Defendant proceeded pro se at revocation hearing

Area of Law: Criminal - pro se defendants

Issues Presented: Whether the district court engaged in the appropriate colloquy with defendant at his revocation hearing?

Brief Summary: Mark T. Manuel appeals his prison sentence from his revocation hearing. He alleges that the district court did not engage in an adequate colloquy when it was informing Manuel about the consequences and disadvantages of proceeding without counsel. The Third Circuit disagreed and affirmed the district courts sentence. Manuel was engaged in fraudulent activity and was sentenced to prison. After he was released, he was placed on supervised release and agreed to not use drugs or engage in self-employment activities. However, he violated those terms and was sent to a halfway house. There he violated his supervised released terms again and was sent back to the district court for a revocation hearing. At this hearing, he requested to proceed without the assistance of counsel. The district court inquired about his educational background, informed him of the disadvantages and potential consequences of proceeding pro se, and informed him of procedures and rules that only lawyers were familiar with. Manuel still opted to proceed pro se and was sentenced to prison. He now argues that the colloquy was inadequate. A revocation hearing is not a criminal proceeding and there is no constitutional right to counsel. The Court determined that the appropriate due process in revocation hearings requires that the defendant waive his Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 32.1 rights knowingly and voluntarily under the totality of the circumstances. This did not require an extensive or specific colloquy by the district court. In this case, the Court determined that Manuel's decision to proceed pro se was made voluntarily and knowingly. Manuel acknowledged that he understood the potential disadvantages of not having a lawyer at his revocation hearing but opted to do so anyway. The Court affirmed the district court's sentence.

Significance (if any):

Extended Summary:
Mark T. Manuel was engaged in fraudulent activity in the early 2000s and pled guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy in May 2004. He was sentenced to prison and a three-year term of supervised release. His supervised release terms included agreeing to undergo drug tests and to not use any drugs in addition to not engaging in self-employment activities. Manuel was released from prison in December 2008 and failed numerous drug tests, violating his supervised release term. In March 2011, the district court revoked Manuel's supervised release and sentenced Manuel to prison.
He was released in October 2011 and started another supervised release term. However, he again failed drug tests and he was caught engaging in self-employment activities. The district court then sentenced Manuel to a residential re-entry center where he committed loan fraud offenses. The district court again revoked Manuel's supervised release. At his revocation hearing, he informed the court that he wanted to proceed without the assistance of his lawyer. The district court engaged in a colloquy with Manuel. The court inquired about Manuel's education background and his ability to under legal rules and procedures. The court ran through a series of questions that in effect informed Manuel of all the potential disadvantages of proceeding without a lawyer and its potential consequences. After the district court questioned Manuel, it allowed him to proceed pro se but allowed his lawyer to standby and serve in back up capacity. Manuel then represented himself at his revocation hearing and was sentenced to the maximum sentence on violating both of his supervised release terms.
Manuel filed this appeal arguing that the district court's colloquy on Manuel's request to proceed without a lawyer was inadequate. The Third Circuit disagreed. Before a defendant is permitted to proceed without counsel, he must be informed of the disadvantages and must knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily agree to proceed without the benefits of counsel. There are a series of fourteen questions that the court asks a criminal defendant in a criminal proceeding in order to determine if the defendant is making a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary decision to proceed without counsel. However, a revocation hearing is not a criminal proceeding and there is no constitutional right to counsel at these hearings. The Court determined that the appropriate due process in revocation hearings requires that the defendant waive his Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 32.1 rights knowingly and voluntarily under the totality of the circumstances. This did not require an extensive or specific colloquy by the district court. In this case, the Court determined that Manuel's decision to proceed pro se was made voluntarily and knowingly. Manuel acknowledged that he understood the potential disadvantages of not having a lawyer at his revocation hearing but opted to do so anyway. The Court affirmed the district court's sentence.

To read the full opinion, please visit http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/124258p.pdf.

Panel (if known): McKee, Chief Judge, Smith and Sloviter, Circuit Judges

Argument Date: N/A

Argument Location: Philadelphia, PA

Date of Issued Opinion: October 17, 2013

Docket Number: No. 12-4258

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Kathleen D. Tran

Counsel: Mary E. Crawley, Esq., Counsel for Appellee and Regina M. Coyne, Esq. , Counsel for Appellant

Author of Opinion: Judge Smith

Circuit: Third Circuit

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Mary E. Levy

    Posted By: Susan DeJarnatt @ 10/22/2013 02:20 PM     3rd Circuit  

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