Is a defendant required to file a separate appeal to challenge his restitution award, which had been determined after he filed his appeal of the original judgment?
This case presents the Supreme Court with an opportunity to decide whether an appellant must file a separate appeal if he wishes to challenge a restitution award that was determined after he appealed the original judgment. Manrique argues that an appeal of an original judgment should “mature” to perfect an appeal of the amended judgment. He claims that such a process would be practical and would conform to the rules of process governing criminal appeals. The United States, on the other hand, contends that allowing the original appeal to mature would contradict the text and purpose of Rule 4(b)(2). The outcome of this case will determine how many appeals appellants must file in circumstances involving amended judgments.
Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties
Whether a notice of appeal filed after a district court announces its sentence, but before it amends this sentence to specify a restitution amount, automatically matures to perfect an appeal of the amended judgment.
Petitioner, Marcelo Manrique, was discovered with child pornography on his computer. He pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida to the crime of possession of material showing a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The district court sentenced Manrique in June 2014 to seventy-two months in prison and a life term of supervised release. The court also ordered him to pay restitution, —the determination of which was deferred until August 2014. The court deferred the determination of restitution because the victim’s damages had not yet been determined.
Following the district court’s original judgment, but prior to the court’s determination of his restitution award, Manrique filed an appeal challenging his life term of supervised relief. The district court subsequently held the restitution hearing on September 17, 2014, following the postponement of the original date. Ultimately, only one victim sought restitution, and the court used “God-given common sense” to calculate Manrique’s appropriate restitution amount at $4,500. The court decided that $100 per image was a “reasonable” way to calculate the reward.
Manrique never separately appealed the amended judgment, but he challenged both his life term of supervised relief and the $4,500 ordered restitution award on appeal before the Eleventh Circuit. With respect to the $4,500 restitution award, Manrique argued that he should not have to pay because the government had not shown that he was the proximate cause of the victim’s suffering. The Court of Appeals determined that it did not have jurisdiction to hear Manrique’s challenge to his restitution amount because he had not filed a separate appeal of the amended judgment.
Thereafter, Manrique filed a petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc challenging the Eleventh Circuit’s Court of Appeals’ determination that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the challenge to the restitution amount. The Court of Appeals denied his petition, so Manrique filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted his petition for writ of certiorari on April 25, 2016.
FILING BEFORE ENTRY OF JUDGMENT: FEDERAL RULE OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE 4(b)(2) AND THE MATURATION OF AN APPEAL
Litigants in federal court can obtain appellate review in a court of appeals “only by filing a notice of appeal with the district clerk within the time allowed by Rule 4.” Fed. R. App. P. 3(a)(1). The resolution of this case hinges on the interpretation of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(b), as the parties disagree, in particular, over the meaning of Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(2).
Rule 4(b)(1)(A)(i) requires defendants in a criminal case to file a notice of appeal within 14 days after the entry of the judgment or order being appealed. Rule 4(b)(2) states that “a notice of appeal filed after the court announces a decision, sentence, or order—but before the entry of the judgment or order—is treated as filed on the date of and after the entry.”Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(2). Federal district courts under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 (“MVRA”) can sentence a criminal defendant and order restitution but wait to determine the amount of the restitution award until a later date.
Manrique contends that Rule 4(b)(2) applies to his single notice of appeal. Thus, according to Manrique, when a defendant files a single appeal after sentencing but before the court specifies a restitution amount, Rule 4(b)(2) causes the single appeal to mature to perfect an appeal of the amended judgment, rendering the filing of a second appeal unnecessary. Manrique’s argument follows several steps. First, Manrique claims that, in deferred-restitution cases, “judgment” as used in Rule 4(b)(2) refers to a combination of the initial judgment ordering restitution and the amended judgment specifying the restitution amount. Therefore, Manrique claims that he filed his appeal after a “decision, sentence, or order” but before the entry of the judgment, because, under his analysis, the judgment was not final until the court issued the amended judgment. Manrique argues that it follows that, because of Rule 4(b)(2), his appeal matured to perfect his appeal, meaning that his single appeal extends to also appeal the restitution amount.
The United States, however, asserts that Manrique’s interpretation of Rule 4(b)(2) contradicts the Rule’s text and purpose. The United States argues that Rule 4(b)(2) applies when a defendant files a notice of appeal after a “decision, sentence, or order” that the defendant wants to appeal. The United States claims that the decision Manrique wanted to appeal was the restitution amount of $4,500, which the Court awarded two months after Manrique filed his notice of appeal. Further, the United States argues that Manrique had no basis to appeal the Court’s first judgment, the imposition of restitution, as he pled guilty to an offense requiring restitution by statute, meaning that Manrique had no basis of appeal until the amended judgment.
Additionally, according to the United States, the purpose of Rule 4(b)(2) is to protect a litigant who files an appeal without realizing that the court has not formally entered the judgment into the docket. The United States claims that Rule 4(b)(2) is the criminal equivalent to civil Rule 4(a)(2), which is intended to serve the same purpose. The United States argues that the Rule’s purpose makes sense, given that a docket “merely memorializes” a decision that a court previously made and announced. The United States argues that the Rule is only meant to mature an appeal when the entry of judgment simply memorializes a prior decision; thus, the United States contends that an amended judgment specifying a restitution amount greatly exceeds the scope of the Rule.
THE IMPACT OF DOLAN AND THE RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF JUDGMENTS
Manrique claims that the application of Rule 4(b)(2) to his single appeal is consistent with the Court’s decision in Dolan v. United States, and the Restatement (Second) of Judgments. The issue in Dolan was whether the district court could award restitution even though the district court exceeded the time allotted by the MVRA to award restitution. Nonetheless, Manrique claims that the combination of the initial judgment with the amended judgment to form the final judgment is consistent with the interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 3664(d)(5) as applied and interpreted in Dolan.
Moreover, in Dolan, Dolan argued that a sentencing judgment lacks finality until restitution is determined. Manrique argues that the court in Dolan held that the initial sentencing judgment could be final enough to be appealed, even though it was not necessarily the final judgment. Manrique contends that this holding is also consistent with the Restatement (Second) of Judgments. While generally, according to the Restatement, finality is lacking if an issue of fact or law “essential to the adjudication of the claim has been reserved for future determination,” Manrique argues that the Restatement has exceptions that allow for appeal without finality in certain circumstances. Manrique argues that the initial judgment ordering restitution is final enough for appeal per Dolan, which noted that there are strong arguments for the appealability of an initial judgment, even when the restitution amount is undetermined.
The United States contends, however, that Dolan indicates the proper procedure for obtaining appellate review in deferred-restitution cases. The court in Dolan, while not addressing the exact scenario at issue in this case, noted that it is not unlikely for a defendant to appeal from both the initial judgment containing the defendant’s prison sentence and from the “later order setting forth the final amount of restitution.” The United States claims that this indicates that a defendant should appeal from both the initial judgment and from the amended judgment containing the restitution amount.
The United States also takes issue with Manrique’s claim that “the judgment” under Rule 4(b)(2) consists of a combination of the initial judgment and the amendment judgment. The United States contends that Dolan held that an initial sentence including a fine, term of imprisonment, or supervised release constitutes a final judgment. In addition, the United States claims that the Court in Dolan held that a delayed restitution award also constitutes a final judgment that must be appealed separately. The United States questions the finality of and the ability to appeal the initial judgment of restitution and argues that the Restatement (Second) of Judgments provides no support for Manrique’s finality argument. The United States claims that the Restatement merely states that finality for appellate review differs from finality for purposes of res judicata.
THE EFFECT OF FEDERAL RULE OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE 4(b)(3)
Manrique argues that Rule 4(b)(3) does not demonstrate that Rule 4(b)(2) is inapplicable to his single appeal. Rule 4(b)(3) states that a notice of appeal is effective without amendment “to appeal from an order disposing of” a motion for judgment of acquittal, a new trial, or arrest of judgment. Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(3). Manrique takes the silence of the rules governing criminal appeals regarding certain amended judgments to demonstrate that a second notice of appeal is not required for amended criminal judgments. Manrique notes that, in contrast to the rules governing criminal appeals, the rules governing civil appeals clearly state that an amended appeal is required after an amended judgment, indicating that such a procedure is not necessary in criminal cases.
Conversely, the United States contends that Rule 4(b)(3) demonstrates that Rule 4(b)(2) does not apply to Manrique’s single appeal. Because Rule 4(b)(3) states that a notice of appeal is effective without amendment for certain orders, the United States claims that this Rule implies that such leniency is not permitted for other kinds of orders, including orders designating a restitution amount.
This case will affect appellants, like Manrique, whose original judgments are amended after they file their appeal. If the court decides in favor of Manrique, appellants will only need to file one appeal in order for the appellate court to hear challenges to both the original and amended judgments. However, if the court decides in favor of the United States, appellants will be required to file separate appeals for each judgment they wish to appeal.
Manrique argues that requiring appellants to file subsequent appeals following amended judgments would waste judicial resources. First of all, he contends that compelling a second appeal would require an expensive duplicate filing fee—the cost of which would be borne by the public in the cases of indigent defendants. Next, the district court clerk would have to send the new appeal to the court of appeals clerk, who would then need to docket an additional case for the Court of Appeals. The two parties would then either have to move for the two appeals to be consolidated, or alternatively, proceed with two separate appeals. If the parties failed to consolidate or chose to keep the related appeals separate, each appeal would have a different schedule for filing transcripts, briefing for trial, and preparing the record.
Manrique also points out that if the appeals were not consolidated, preliminary matters that would presumably affect both appeals would have to be decided by separately assigned panels of the Court of Appeals.
The United States argues that requiring only one appeal would create confusion if there were a lengthy delay between the original judgment and the restitution determination. For instance, in a significantly delayed deferred-restitution case, there is a chance that the original appeal could be resolved before the court determines the restitution award. If this were to occur under Manrique’s regime, the government argues that it is unclear what whether the restitution matter would be automatically on appeal even though the original judgment had already been resolved.
Manrique also contends that requiring two separate appeals is unnecessary and impractical because modern electronic systems make filing amended judgments so easy. He reasons that there is no need to complicate a process that already works efficiently. Nowadays, amended judgments can be seamlessly joined with originals, and clerks can file appeals electronically without creating volumes of paper or supplemental records. For instance, in this case the amended judgment was filed only five days after being entered by the District Court. Further, Manrique argues that the fact that both parties briefed the supervised release and restitution issues in preparation for appeal without complaint illustrates that there is no need to require separate appeals.
The United States additionally maintains that Manrique’s reading of Rule 4(b)(2) would complicate the government’s ability to cross-appeal. In criminal cases, the government can file an appeal within 30 days of either (1) the entry of the judgment or order being appealed or (2) the filing of a notice appeal by the defendant. However, the government argues that if the court adopts Manrique’s interpretation of 4(b)(2), there may be many instances where the United States will be unable to cross-appeal because it will not learn of the defendant’s intention to challenge restitution until the parties exchange appellate briefs, at which point the government’s deadline for filing a cross-appeal may have passed.
Manrique also contends that requiring separate appeals would act as a trap for unsuspecting appellants. He argues that many appellants would lose their right to appeal their restitution awards because they would probably not think that they were required to file another appeal after the court amended their judgment. Such a “notice trap” once existed in civil appeals, but was abolished in the 1993 amendment to the Rules of Civil Procedure. Manrique argues that interpreting Rule 4(b)(2) to require a second appeal after an amended restitution judgment would introduce a trap where there has never been one before and cause many appellants to lose their valuable right of appeal on a mere technicality. He points out that this sort of trap could also lead to confusion among defendants because appellants might have to file a different number of appeals in different circuits.
- Jaclyn Belczyk, Supreme Court to Rule in Bank Fraud Case, Jurist (Apr. 25, 2016).
- Manrique v. United States, Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech (Sept. 1, 2016).
- Manrique v. United States, ScotusBlog, (Sept. 1, 2016).
- High Court Takes Up Dispute On Deferred Restitution Appeals, Stewart Bishop, Law360 (April 25, 2016).