Always, Always Object

U.S. v. Uscanga-Mora, 2009 WL 1100458 (4/24/09) (Published) - Following the Supreme Court's recent Puckett case, the court extols the virtue of plain error review. E.g., a contemporaneous objection will enable the court to correct any procedural error right then. But somewhat helpfully, the 10th also says: "plain-error review should not be like a hidden mantrap, encountered without warning yet often deadly." So, counsel will be excused from objecting if counsel is not afforded an opportunity to object or an objection would be futile. Perhaps helpfully, the 10th in a footnote acts as though 10th precedent might be consistent with 6th Cir. law, which requires the district court to ask the parties if they have any objection to the sentence before plain error review is applied. In this case, the court asked if counsel had "anything else" to add and whether there was any reason that the sentence should not go forward. So counsel had an opportunity to object to the inadequacy of the court's explanation for its application of the two-level leader enhancement under § 3B1.1(c). The defendant could not meet the third plain error prong because there was sufficient evidence to support the enhancement. Wiretapped conversations evidenced the defendant ordering someone else to do certain things with respect to drug transactions.