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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 52206 Find in a Library
Title: CONSTITUTIONAL LAW OF REMEDIES FOR BROKEN PLEA BARGAINS
Journal: CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW  Volume:66  Issue:3  Dated:(MAY 1978)  Pages:471-539
Author(s): P WESTEN; D WESTIN
Corporate Author: University of California
Berkeley School of Law
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 69
Sponsoring Agency: University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE LAW OF CONTRACTS IS CONSTRASTED WITH CONSTITUTIONAL LAW IN THIS EXAMINATION OF REMEDIES FOR BROKEN PLEA BARGAINS, BASED ON THE SANTOBELLO VERSUS NEW YORK CASE.
Abstract: IN THE SANTOBELLO CASE, THE SUPREME COURT HELD THAT A DEFENDANT HAS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO RELIEF WHEN THE STATE BREACHES A PROMISE MADE IN RETURN FOR A GUILTY PLEA. THE COURT, HOWEVER, REFRAINED FROM DECIDING WHAT REMEDIES ARE CONSTITUTIONALLY PRESCRIBED IN SUCH CASES. TO DETERMINE WHAT PARTICULAR REMEDY, IF ANY, IS REQUIRED BY THE SANTOBELLO CASE, IT IS NECESSARY TO ASCERTAIN THE NATURE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL INTEREST THAT IS VIOLATED BY THE STATE'S BREACH OF A PLEA AGREEMENT. FIVE APPROACHES TO THIS DETERMINATION ARE: DISTINGUISH THE REJECTION OF AN INDUCEMENT FROM ITS ACCEPTANCE, FOCUS ON THE COURT'S CHARACTERIZATION OF AN INDUCEMENT AS A BENEFIT OR AS A BURDEN, ESCHEW ASSERTED CONSTITUTIONAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BENEFITS AND BURDENS OR BETWEEN THE ACCEPTANCE AND REJECTION OF INDUCEMENTS, ASSUME THAT THERE IS NO VALID DISTINCTION BETWEEN AN INDUCEMENT AS A BENEFIT OR BURDEN, AND EMPHASIZE THE PRINCIPLE THAT THE STATE CANNOT IMPOSE BURDENS ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS BY DISCOURAGING THEIR ASSERTATION. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BENEFITS AND BURDENS IS SIGNIFICANT BECAUSE IS BEARS ON THE CONCLUSION THAT THE CONSTITUTIONAL INTEREST TO BE PROTECTED IS THE DEFENDANT'S SELF-INTEREST IN RECEIVING THE FULL BENEFIT OF PROCEDURAL ENTITLEMENTS. A GUILTY PLEA IS INVALID IF IT IS BASED ON AN INDUCEMENT THAT IS SO ADVANTAGEOUS COMPARED TO THE ALTERNATIVE VALUE OF A STANDING TRIAL THAT EVEN THE DEFENDANT WHO BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE FACTUALLY INNOCENT WOULD PLEAD GUILTY. MOST PROCEDURAL RIGHTS ARE DESIGNED TO PROTECT INNOCENT DEFENDANTS FROM BEING FALSELY CONVICTED; WHENEVER THE STATE ALLOWS A DEFENDANT TO WAIVE ALL PROCEDURAL RIGHTS BY PLEADING GUILTY, IT RUNS THE RISK THAT AN INNOCENT DEFENDANT WILL BE FALSELY CONVICTED. THERE ARE TWO ALTERNATIVES WITH NEGOTIATED PLEAS: PROHIBIT THE STATE FROM OFFERING DEFENDANTS ANY INDUCEMENTS TO PLEAD GUILTY, OR IDENTIFY INDUCEMENTS THAT PRESENT THE GREATEST RISK OF FALSE CONVICTION. IN ADDITION TO REQUIRING THAT WAIVERS OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS BE VOLUNTARY, THE U.S. CONSTITUTION STIPULATES THAT WAIVERS BE MADE INTELLIGENTLY. THE STATE HAS AN OBLIGATION TO TREAT DEFENDANTS WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT, AND THE REQUIREMENT THAT A DEFENDANT'S PLEA BE INTELLIGENT INVOLVES THE DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION. IF THE COURTS ACKNOWLEDGE THAT DEFENDANTS HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL INTEREST IN THE PROTECTION OF THEIR REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS, THE COURTS WILL INCLUDE THAT DEFENDANTS HAVE A RIGHT TO DEMAND SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE AS A REMEDY FOR BROKEN PLEA AGREEMENTS. THE LAW OF CONTRACTS AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ARE BOTH CONCERNED WITH AGREEMENTS AND, IN THE AREA OF PLEA AGREEMENTS, THE LAW OF CONTRACTS SERVES TO INFORM JUDGMENTS OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. SUPPORTING CASE LAW IS CITED. (DEP)
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Defendants; Judicial decisions; Plea negotiations; Pleas
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=52206

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