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Circuit judges commend attorney in opinion

January 1, 2007
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an attorney's motion to withdraw his client's notice of appeal because the attorney couldn't find a non-frivolous basis for an appeal. The court also commended the attorney for how he handled the appeal.

In U.S.A. v. Alan R. King, Jr., No. 07-2143, King pleaded guilty to stealing government property, loan fraud, false representation of Social Security numbers, and federal student financial aid fraud. The District Court sentenced him to 105 months imprisonment, five years of supervised release, $183,845 in restitution, and a $400 special assessment.

King filed a notice to appeal, which caused his attorney to file a motion to withdraw because the attorney couldn't discern a non-frivolous basis for the appeal. The Circuit Court limited its review to the potential frivolous issues identified by the attorney and King and found all the issues raised would be considered frivolous in appeal.

King argued he was not of sound mind when he pleaded guilty. In the per curiam opinion, the court disagreed, stating after he entered his plea he gave coherent and articulate responses.

King contends the District Court didn't give a sound reason as to why it rejected the plea agreement King reached with the government. The District Court judge did explain that he rejected the plea agreement because he disagreed with the parties' stipulated offense level, which improperly awarded King for accepting responsibility. Accepting the plea deal would give King a sentence lower than what he should receive based on the crimes he committed.

King wanted to challenge the court's finding he obstructed justice by attempting to flee while on pre-trial release. King did not return to the community corrections center where he was staying and even obtained a new driver's license with a stolen Social Security number. King also wanted to know if he could challenge the District Court's refusal to award him a reduction for the acceptance of responsibility. By recommitting the same type of crime while on release, it showed he did not accept responsibility, the court ruled, and challenging either issue would be frivolous.

A challenge to King's criminal history and whether he could challenge his prison sentence would also be frivolous, the court decided. King lied to police and a judge that his license had been suspended and claimed he was a twin and police had the wrong person in custody. The offense showed a pattern of deceptive conduct. In regards to his prison sentence, the District Court concluded a heavy sentence was required given the seriousness of his offenses.

The circuit judges closed the opinion recognizing King's attorney, James McKinley, for his ability to balance representing his client and not filing a frivolous appeal.
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