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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Aug. 25, 2004, Miguel Angel Garcia-Jasso pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute approximately 625 kilograms of marijuana and a count of possession with intent to distribute the same. The crimes charged in the indictment occurred between Feb. 24, 2003, and March 1, 2003, and on March 1, 2003, three of Garcia-Jasso’s co-conspirators were arrested. An arrest warrant was not immediately issued, because Garcia-Jasso indicated that he wanted to cooperate. In June 2003, however, Garcia-Jasso left Texas for Michigan. On July 11, 2003, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division, issued an arrest warrant for Garcia-Jasso. Almost a year later, on June 4, 2004, Garcia-Jasso was taken into custody in the Michigan. He was transferred to Texas on June 14, 2004. Represented by counsel Robert De La Garza, Garcia-Jasso pleaded guilty on Aug. 25, 2004. On Feb. 28, 2005, the district court sentenced Garcia-Jasso to two concurrent 135-month terms of imprisonment, to be followed by concurrent five-year terms of supervised release. During the sentencing hearing, De La Garza objected to, among other things, a proposed two-level obstruction of justice enhancement under U.S. Sentencing Guideline �3C1.1. In reviewing the objection to the obstruction of justice enhancement, the district court noted the possible need for De La Garza to testify regarding whether De La Garza in turn informed Garcia-Jasso about the issuance of the arrest warrant. De La Garza stated that he would prefer to proceed as Garcia-Jasso’s attorney and did not testify. At the sentencing hearing, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent testified that he informed De La Garza about the existence of an arrest warrant for Garcia-Jasso in August 2003. During the sentencing hearing, the DEA agent also testified that De La Garza had informed him on March 3, 2003, that he was representing both Garcia-Jasso and Linda Vasquez, Garcia-Jasso’s common-law wife. Garcia-Jasso challenged his conviction on grounds that De La Garza labored under two conflicts of interest, the first stemming from his attorney’s representation of Vasquez and the second arising from his attorney’s alleged complicity in Garcia-Jasso’s flight from the jurisdiction. Garcia-Jasso claimed that the district court became aware of these conflicts during sentencing and failed to conduct a hearing to ensure that Garcia-Jasso knowingly waived his right to conflict-free counsel. HOLDING:Affirmed. If a defendant chooses to proceed with representation by counsel who has a conflict of interest, the court stated, a district court must conduct what is commonly known as a “Garcia hearing” to ensure a valid waiver by the defendant of his Sixth Amendment right. The court, however, found insufficient evidence to support Garcia-Jasso’s claim that this multiple representation developed into an actual conflict which forced De La Garza to decide between the interests of Garcia-Jasso and Vasquez. Nothing in the record suggested that De La Garza ever represented Vasquez in connection with any criminal proceeding, the court stated. As for De La Garza’s potential conflict, the court found no evidence that De La Garza acted under a conflict of interest between his own interests and those of his client, Garcia-Jasso. The record, the court stated, did not demonstrate that De La Garza played a role in Garcia-Jasso’s departure or absence from the jurisdiction, so there was no evidence that De La Garza would have had reason to fear that his own testimony might subject him to criminal liability. OPINION:Martinez, D.J.; Wiener and Clement, J.J., and Martinez, D.J.

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