Seventh Circuit reverses plea and sentence through video conference

In this case, the defendant suffered from extensive health issues so that he was medically unable to attend in front of the District Court. The District Court set up a video conference with the Defendant’s consent and then conducted a plea and sentencing hearing from the courtroom where the defendant was never physically present.

After receiving a prison sentence, the defendant chose to appeal. He claimed on appeal that Rule 43 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure did not authorize a plea and sentencing hearing through video conference.

The Seventh Circuit agreed and held that a video conference where the defendant is not physically present is per se error.

The case is United States v. Gregory Bethea, 17-3468.

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