QUESTION: Should a judge accept a plea of guilty when the factual basis supporting the plea of guilty is based on the common practice of asking defendants a series of leading questions, without the defendant ever stating in his own words what happened?
For the answer and explanation read the attached judicial training update.
NORGAARD PLEA OF GUILTY: A Norgaard Plea is a procedure that governs situations where a defendant wants to enter a plea of guilty (usually in order to take advantage of a plea agreement) but is unable to recall facts due to intoxication or amnesia. Unlike an Alford plea (see update 14-18) in a Norgaard plea, defendant does not make a claim he is innocent. State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 716 (Minn.1994); State v. Johnson, A14-1605, Minn. App. June 29, 2015.
To the dismay of the Court of Appeals, there are certain judicial mistakes/oversights that tend to reoccur with every new generation of judges and attorneys. Two of the most common oversights involve Alford and Norgaard pleas of guilty. These oversights almost always involve failure to make a complete record. Creating a full and complete record to support any plea of guilty should be viewed as a collaborative effort shared by both judge and attorneys.
The proper procedure for an Alford plea of guilty can be found in Update 14-18, dated October 8, 2014.
This week’s judicial update outlines the procedure that the district court must follow before a Norgaard plea of guilty can be accepted.
TO READ THE FULL UPDATE CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK:
There are many conviction and sentencing factors that can have a dramatic impact on the deportation status of a non-citizen defendant. This update covers five of the most common problems that every judge and attorney should be aware of and one suggested best practice. The last page of the update includes references to several immigration services available to judges, attorneys and the general public.
QUESTION: What is an “Alford” plea of guilty? What procedure must the District Court follow before an “Alford” plea can be accepted?
In North Carolina v. Alford, the United States Supreme Court held that it was constitutional for a court to accept a defendant’s guilty plea, even though the defendant maintained his innocence, where the State demonstrated “a strong factual basis for the plea” and the defendant clearly expressed his desire to enter the plea based on his belief that the State’s evidence would be sufficient to convict him. 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160 (1970); State v. Theis, 742 N.W.2d 643 (Minn. 2007).
This update discusses the three necessary steps that courts must take before an “Alford” plea can be accepted.
Defendant pleads guilty to Felony Domestic Assault (but could be any criminal offense) pursuant to a plea agreement. Court accepts the plea, orders a PSI and return for sentencing. After reading the PSI court decides NOT to accept the plea agreement. At sentencing the court rejects the previously accepted plea of guilty. Defendant argues that his continued prosecution, following the rejection of a guilty plea that the district court had accepted in open court, violated the constitutional protection against double jeopardy.
Message From Site Manager Alan Pendleton (Former District Court Judge)
This training site contains the complete repository of the "Pendleton Judicial Training Updates". Training Updates are designed to be short, concise, easy to read judicial tips that every judge and attorney should know. Many of the updates are designed for use "in court" by judges and attorneys as resource guides to ensure the making of a full and complete record.
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