In April 26, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held, in United States v. Bethea, that a felony defendant could not affirmatively waive his right to be physically present in the courtroom, despite requesting to appear via videoconference during his combined plea and sentencing hearing. Bethea represented a matter of first impression among the federal circuit courts. This Comment argues that the Seventh Circuit’s decision is in line with the decisions its sister circuits regarding similar questions that strictly interpreted the plain text of Rule 43 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. This Comment further argues that courts should consider, when analyzing Rule 43, their power to advocate to Congress for more discretion in allowing videoconferences for defendants with severe health and mobility problems. The Seventh Circuit missed a clear opportunity to do so in Bethea.
Meaghan Annett, To Be Physically Present or Not to Be Physically Present: The Use of Videoconferences During Felony Proceedings, 60 B.C.L. Rev. E. Supp. II.-165 (2019), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol60/iss9/13