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Gonzales v. US
No. 06-11612


    Homero Gonzalez v. United States


    Jury Selection, Voir Dire, Magistrate Judges, Article III Judges, Plain Error Review, Criminal Law & Procedure


    Petitioner, a Mexican citizen who does not speak English, was represented by counsel at his federal drug-trafficking trial. After appearing before a United States district judge at several pretrial conferences, petitioner was brought before a United States magistrate judge for jury selection. At a bench conference outside of petitioner's presence and before petitioner had the assistance of an interpreter, defense counsel orally consented to the magistrate judge's presiding over the jury selection process. Thereafter, the magistrate judge did not obtain petitioner's consent or even mention that his attorney had consented outside of his presence. The questions presented are as follows:

  • 1) Must a federal criminal defendant explicitly and personally waive his right to have an Article III judge preside over voir dire?
  • 2) Did the court of appeals err when it reviewed petitioner's objection for plain error?



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Counsel of Record

For Petitioner:

Brent E. Newton
Assistant Federal Public Defender
Houston, TX

For Respondent:

Paul D. Clement
Solicitor General
United States Department of Justice
Washington, DC


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