February 04, 2008

ID: the "you've done this so many times before" basis for a knowing, voluntary and intelligent plea

I would be crestfallen to hear a judge say these words to a client of mine, even if they were true. From the Twin Falls Times-News:

Murder defendants McElhiney, Heredia appear in court

(C)oming before Judge Stoker on Thursday, Fredy Heredia-Juarez lost his bid to undo a guilty plea he says he didn't mean to make. Heredia told the judge when he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder... he believed he was getting a sweeter deal than he actually got.

Stoker rejected a litany of reasons Heredia gave for entering a false plea... The judge said Heredia had pleaded guilty so many times, to so many people and in a variety of ways that even if his then attorney Greg Fuller plugged words into Heredia's mouth and railroaded his client into a poor decision, it would hardly matter...

Stoker expressed deep concern that too many innocent defendants in the U.S. plead guilty falsely. He said this was not one of those cases...