U.S. v. Knight

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 01-04-2023
  • Case #: 21-10197
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lasnik, D.J. for the Court; Thomas, C.J.; and Bennett, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Where a waiver would deprive the defendant of a constitutional right, courts generally require that it be a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent choice among alternative courses of action, made without coercion and with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences that would arise from the waiver. See, e.g., Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 748–49 (1970); Parke v. Raley, 506 U.S. 20, 29 (1992).

Knight was convicted of robbery. Knight argued there was a structural error at trial by allowing a juror to participate via Zoom and that he was entitled to a new trial because he was deprived of his right to a fair and impartial jury, a representative jury, and/or of his right to confront witnesses. The government argued the error was “non-structural” and Knight knowingly, intentionally, and voluntarily waived his rights to an in-person participation of “Juror 10.” Structural errors “infect the entire trial process,” Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 630 (1993), and “necessarily render a trial fundamentally unfair,” Rose v. Clark, 478 U.S. 570, 577 (1986)). Non-structural errors can be waived. Waiver is the “intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right.” Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 464 (1938). Constitutional and other rights may be forfeited if defendant “fail[s] to make timely assertion of the right before a tribunal having jurisdiction to determine it.” United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725, 731 (1993) (quoting Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414, 444 (1944)). The Court held that the error was not a “structural error” and the district court used the proper procedure to confirm that Knight waived his right to insist that jurors be present in the court room. The Court found that Knight was specifically informed, there were various discussions, and he indicated he understood that he waived his right. AFFIRMED.

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