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Holguin-Hernandez v. United States

Supreme Court of the United States

December 10, 2019, Argued; February 26, 2020, Decided

No. 18-7739.

Opinion

Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

] A criminal defendant who wishes a court of appeals to consider a claim that a ruling of a trial court was in error must first make his objection known to the trial-court judge. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provide two ways of doing so. They say that

“[a] party may preserve a claim of error by informing the court . . . of the action the party wishes the court to take, or the party’s objection to the court’s action and the grounds for that objection.” [***4]  Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 51(b).

Errors “not brought to the court’s attention” in one of these two ways are subject to review only insofar as they are “plain.” Rule 52(b); see United States v. Olano, 507 U. S. 725, 732-736, 113 S. Ct. 1770, 123 L. Ed. 2d 508 (1993).

In this case, a criminal defendant argued in the District Court that the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U. S. C. §3553(a) did not support imposing any prison time for a supervised-release violation. At the very least, the defendant contended, any term of imprisonment should be less than 12 months long. The judge nevertheless imposed a sentence of 12 months. The question is whether the  [**99]  defendant’s district-court argument for a specific sentence (namely, nothing or less than 12 months) preserved his claim on appeal that the 12-month sentence was unreasonably long. We think that it did.

 The petitioner in this case, Gonzalo Holguin-Hernandez, was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to 60 months in prison and five years of supervised release.  [*765]  At the time of his conviction, he was also serving a term of supervised release related to an earlier crime. The Government asked the court to find that petitioner had violated the conditions of that earlier term, to revoke it, and to impose an additional consecutive prison term consistent with the pertinent Sentencing Guidelines, [***5]  namely, 12 to 18 months in prison. See United States Sentencing Commission, Guidelines Manual §§7B1.4(a), 7B1.3(f) (Nov. 2018).

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140 S. Ct. 762 *; 206 L. Ed. 2d 95 **; 2020 U.S. LEXIS 1365 ***; 28 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 49; 2020 WL 908880

GONZALO HOLGUIN-HERNANDEZ, PETITIONER v. UNITED STATES

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

United States v. Holguin-Hernandez, 746 Fed. Appx. 403, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 36558 (5th Cir. Tex., Dec. 27, 2018)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

sentence, trial court, preserved, court of appeals, impose sentence, factors

Criminal Law & Procedure, Reviewability, Preservation for Review, Failure to Object, Requirements, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Factors, Appeals, Proportionality & Reasonableness Review