Fifth Circuit admonishes parties not to phone in sentencing hearings.

Criminal proceedings are solemn events; a phone call is not an appropriate means to conduct a solemn event. That was the warning issued by the Fifth Circuit in United States v. Ramos-Gonzales, where the Court was again reviewing a special condition of supervised release following a resentencing. The Court explicitly noted that the absence of authority for conducting a resentencing via telephone and advised against this procedure in the future.

The problems with using a telephone procedure were expounded upon in Judge Jones’ concurring opinion. Using a telephonic conferences “reflects poorly on the dignity and integrity of federal court proceedings[,]” as well as complicating matters should the defendant need to ask counsel a question or the AUSA need to present evidence. The possibility of one of the parties multitasking during the phone was also a concern.

 

 

 

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