In U.S. v. Mastrapa, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Niemyer, joined by Judges Duncan and Senior Judge Ellis, reversed the judgment entered by Judge Conrad of the W.D. Va. on the guilty plea of the defendant, concluding that the requirements of the guilty plea rule were not satisfied as the defendant (who speaks only Spanish) never allocuted to and the government never proved facts that would satisfy the criminal intent requirement for the offense with which he was charged.
Concerned with the Rule 11 issue, the Court had earlier appointed the University of Virginia School of Law Appellate Litigation Clinic to file a brief on Mastrapa’s behalf.
Alapa admitted only that he carried grocery bags, not that he knew there was methampetamine in them:
"He thought that by carrying the bag that had 'a lot of food' inside of it, even though he did not know it had drugs, he had unwittingly participated in a conspiracy for which the American system would imprison him despite his lack of knowledge."