Argued: October 31, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Alexandria. Rossie David Alston,
Jr., District Judge. (1:17-cr-00284-RDA-1)
Victor Gorokhov, BURNHAM & GOROKHOV PLLC, Washington,
D.C., for Appellant.
Sean Dwyer, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria,
Virginia, for Appellee.
Zhang, BURNHAM & GOROKHOV PLLC, Washington, D.C., for
E. Burke, IV, Trial Attorney, Child Exploitation &
Obscenity Section, Criminal Division, UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C.; G. Zachary
Terwilliger, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED
STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellee.
KEENAN, FLOYD, and RICHARDSON, Circuit Judges.
Christopher Sueiro awaits trial on four federal child
pornography charges. Throughout over a year of pretrial
hearings, Sueiro consistently asked to represent himself
pursuant to Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806
(1975). Although criminal defendants have a Sixth Amendment
right to represent themselves, that right is not absolute.
See Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164, 171 (2008). On
July 16, 2019, after a hearing, the district court issued a
written order denying Sueiro's Faretta motion. Sueiro
seeks to appeal that denial so that he may represent himself
at trial. For the reasons that follow, this Court does not
have subject-matter jurisdiction to consider Sueiro's
we have subject-matter jurisdiction over an interlocutory
appeal from the denial of a pretrial Faretta motion is a
question of first impression. We review our jurisdiction de
novo. See Qingyun Li v. Holder, 666 F.3d 147, 149
(4th Cir. 2011). Under the final judgment rule, federal
appellate court jurisdiction is limited to reviewing
“final decisions of the district court.” See
Flanagan v. United States, 465 U.S. 259, 263 (1984)
(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1291). In the criminal context,
this means that this Court generally does not have appellate
jurisdiction until after the imposition of a sentence. See
id. (citing Berman v. United States, 302
U.S. 211, 212 (1937)); see also United States v.
Lawrence, 201 F.3d 536, 538 (4th Cir. 2000).
argues that the denial of a Faretta motion falls within a
narrow exception to the final judgment rule: the collateral
order doctrine. Under this exception, a collateral order is
immediately appealable if it (1) “conclusively
determine[s] the disputed question, ” (2)
“resolve[s] an important issue completely separate from
the merits, ” and (3) is “effectively
unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment.”
Flanagan, 465 U.S. at 265 (quoting Coopers &
Lybrand v. Livesay,437 U.S. 463, 468 (1978)). Under the
third prong, collateral orders in criminal cases are only
“effectively unreviewable” if ...