Nguyen v. United States, 539 U.S. 69, 17 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 69 (2003)

Rehnquist, C. J., dissenting

wise result,' " Olano, supra, at 736 (quoting United States v. Young, 470 U. S. 1, 15 (1985)).

This failure is baffling in light of our well-established precedent and the clarity of Congress' intent to limit federal courts' authority to correct plain error. As we explained in Olano, we articulated the standard that should guide the exercise of remedial discretion under Rule 52(b) almost 70 years ago in United States v. Atkinson, 297 U. S. 157 (1936). 507 U. S., at 736. Congress then codified that standard in Rule 52(b). Ibid. (quoting Young, supra, at 7). Since then, "we repeatedly have quoted the Atkinson language in describing plain-error review." Olano, supra, at 736 (citing cases). According to this long line of cases, when an error is plain and affects substantial rights, "an appellate court must then determine whether the forfeited error seriously affect[s] the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings before it may exercise its discretion to correct the error." Johnson, supra, at 469-470 (quoting Olano, supra, at 736) (internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis added).

This mandatory inquiry confirms that no "miscarriage of justice" would result if petitioners' convictions were affirmed. Petitioners make no claim that Chief Judge Munson was biased or incompetent. His character and abilities as a jurist, peculiarly experienced in adjudicating matters arising within the United States Territories, stand unimpeached. It is therefore difficult to understand how fairness or the public reputation of the judicial process is advanced by allowing criminal defendants, whose convictions are supported by " 'overwhelming' " evidence, Cotton, supra, at 633, 634, and whose arguments on appeal were meritless, to consume the public resources necessary for a second appellate review.*

*Drug enforcement agents seized 443.8 grams of methamphetamine in a package that was mailed to Phan and opened in Nguyen's apartment. 284 F. 3d 1086, 1087-1088 (CA9 2002). In that apartment, agents also


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