on June 13, 2019
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 2-17-cr-00236-001)
District Judge: Honorable David S. Cercone
S. Irwin Ira M. Karoll [Argued] Office of United States
Attorneys for Appellee James J. Brink [Argued] Attorney for
Before: HARDIMAN, PORTER, and COWEN, Circuit Judges.
HARDIMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE
is well established that a defendant cannot relitigate the
denial of a motion to suppress evidence after he enters a
valid, unconditional guilty plea. Appellant Walter Porter
entered such a plea. But he asks us to overturn the District
Court's order denying his motion to suppress because he
never intentionally relinquished (i.e., waived) his
appellate rights, and the Court commented on those rights at
sentencing. We hold that whether Porter waived his
suppression claim is immaterial, and that the Court's
statements did not expand Porter's appellate rights. We
will affirm the District Court's judgment of conviction
case began with a traffic stop in the borough of Indiana,
Pennsylvania. Police searched the stopped car and found drugs
hidden in a "Fix-A-Flat" can inside a duffel bag.
Porter was seated next to the bag and said it was his. The
police took Porter into custody, and the United States
charged him with possession with intent to distribute cocaine
base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and
his indictment, Porter moved to suppress the cocaine base,
arguing that the search and seizure violated his Fourth
Amendment rights. The District Court held an evidentiary
hearing, and the parties offered conflicting testimony. The
Court rejected Porter's version of events, so it denied
the motion to suppress.
weeks after the evidentiary hearing, Porter entered an open
guilty plea. In his colloquy with the District Court, Porter
acknowledged the accuracy of the Government's summary of
the evidence. And he agreed no one had "offered [him]
anything to secure [his] plea of guilty." Supp. App. 13.
The District Court found Porter's plea to be intelligent,
knowing, voluntary, and supported by the facts. The plea
hearing concluded with no discussion of the District
Court's denial of Porter's motion to suppress. Nor
did sentencing memoranda submitted by both parties make any
reference to appellate issues, much less the suppression of
until his sentencing hearing months later did Porter allude
to an appeal. "[T]o preserve the record,"
Porter's counsel "respectfully took exception to the
Court's rulings" from the suppression hearing. Supp.
App. 25. And after the District Court sentenced Porter to 84
months' imprisonment- a substantial downward variance
from the Guidelines range of 151 to 188 months-the Court
informed him of his appellate rights. Besides explaining
Porter's right to an appellate attorney and the 14-day
filing deadline, the Court said, "[s]ir, you have the
right to appeal. I know there's some issues that's
[sic] an indication you want to appeal. You have that right.
You have the right to appeal from your conviction and
sentence imposed upon you." Supp. App. 45. Porter filed
this timely appeal.
District Court had jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3231.
We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. And
although we have said that only "jurisdictional"
defenses survive a defendant's unconditional plea of
guilty, e.g., Washington v. Sobina, 475
F.3d 162, 165 (3d Cir. 2007) (per curiam), the fact that
Porter does not challenge ...