Libretti v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Rhode Island General Assembly

DOCKET NO.: 94-7427
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 516 US 29 (1995)
ARGUED: Oct 03, 1995
DECIDED: Nov 07, 1995

Malcolm L. Stewart - for respondent
Malcolm L. Stewart - on behalf of the Respondent
Sara Sun Beale - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Libretti v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 03, 1995 in Libretti v. United States

John Paul Stevens:

We'll hear argument in Number 94-7427, Libretti v. United States.

Ms. Beale.

Sara Sun Beale:

Justice Stevens, and may it please the Court:

This case raises two important questions about the procedural rights afforded to defendants who tender guilty pleas, including criminal forfeiture.

The two questions are: first, whether Rule 11(f) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure requires the district court to find a factual basis for the defendant's guilty plea to the criminal forfeiture, and second, whether a defendant who waives... excuse me, a defendant who pleads guilty waives his right to a jury verdict on forfeiture if he was not advised of that right and never expressly waived it.

Briefly, the facts are as follows: in exchange for the prosecutor's agreement to recommend a 20-year sentence on one count, and to drop the remaining counts, petitioner pled guilty to violating 21 U.S.C. section 848, and he signed an agreement containing three paragraphs regarding criminal forfeiture.

As construed by the court of appeals, paragraph 10 of that agreement forfeited all of petitioner's property, including legitimately acquired property.

The district court accepted petitioner's plea without making a finding that there was a factual basis for this forfeiture.

Antonin Scalia:

Excuse me, but the court of appeals said it included legitimately acquired property?

Sara Sun Beale:

The court of appeals said it included all of petitioner's property of every kind--

Antonin Scalia:

Right, but it didn't say that it included legitimately acquired property.

It simply amounted to, in the court of appeal's view, an acknowledgement that none of his property was legitimately acquired.

Sara Sun Beale:

--Oh, I think that's not correct, Your Honor.

I think everyone in the case concedes that the property, some of the property involved was acquired legitimately.

There were findings to that effect in the district court.

For example, some of the--

Antonin Scalia:

By which you mean not properly forfeitable?

Sara Sun Beale:


I think that there's a distinction to be drawn here.

In the first instance, how was the property acquired, and that there was some which was legitimately acquired as opposed to property, let's say, that would be the proceeds of a criminal offense.

Antonin Scalia:

Ah, I see.

Sara Sun Beale:

All right, and so--

Antonin Scalia:

You mean legitimately acquired with the proceeds.

Sara Sun Beale:

--I mean legitimately acquired.

For example, before it's alleged that the conduct in question occurred.

So he had property that was acquired by him as a child which was involved in forfeiture here, for example.

I think everyone concedes that that property was legitimately acquired.

The two bank accounts, for example, from the Chicago area which were opened first when he was in grade school and never had any deposits after at least 1981 in the case of both accounts.

Also, his salary from General Chemical in Green River, Wyoming.

Antonin Scalia:

And the court of appeals conceded this, said this.