TUCSON, Ariz. — A federal appeals court says new procedures ease concerns about large group plea hearings in criminal cases for illegal immigrants arrested in zero-tolerance zones along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling Thursday upholds the conviction of a woman who pleaded guilty in Tucson to illegal entry during a hearing involving 66 other defendants.
A 2009 ruling by the same San Francisco-based appellate court said mass criminal investigation hearings violated a federal court rule that requires reading and explaining the rights of criminal defendants.
The ruling Thursday says defendants are still being advised of their rights as a group. But there's now individualized questioning of each defendant on whether he or she understands his or her rights.