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In its second opinion onthe issue in two weeks, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuithas limited the effect of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion allowing federaltrial judges to rely on the “harmless error” doctrine to avoid overturningsentencing decisions because of a failure to notify the accused of appealrights.

The three-judge panel saidthat the defendant’s independent knowledge of the right to appeal a prisonsentence � knowledge that arose from previous experience as a defendantin a federal criminal trial, � did not make the failure to notify him harmlessin a case where the sentence followed a guilty plea.

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