Appellate Jurisdiction in Sanchez-Gomez: A Hard Case that Should Be Easy
96 Washington University Law Review Online 1 (2018)
10 Pages Posted: 3 May 2018 Last revised: 23 May 2019
Date Written: April 9, 2018
In United States v. Sanchez-Gomez, the Supreme Court will decide whether the Ninth Circuit had jurisdiction to strike down a district court rule requiring that all criminal defendants be shackled in full restraints for most non-jury proceedings. As the Court and the parties have approached Sanchez-Gomez, it’s a hard case. It presents difficult and unresolved issues about the meaning and application of two major aspects of federal appellate jurisdiction: the collateral-order doctrine and appellate mandamus. But Sanchez-Gomez should be easy. It’s what I call a “one-shot” interlocutory appeal—it presents a relatively abstract issue of law that, once resolved, will resolve the issue for all litigants and will not require any future appeals on case-specific applications of the law. The lower risk of increasing appellate caseloads, coupled with the chance that the shackling rule might otherwise evade appellate review, merits an immediate appeal. The Supreme Court might make its task easier by recognizing the one-shot nature of Sanchez-Gomez. In the future, a rule of procedure allowing discretionary appeals from any district court decision might avoid turning easy cases like Sanchez-Gomez into hard ones.
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