NMCCA finds plea potentially improvident

In United States v. Hayes, appellant plead guilty.  However, during his sentencing case

the appellant’s unsworn statement sets forth matter clearly inconsistent with his admission of culpability.  Specifically, the appellant raises the possible defense of duress upon which there is no inquiry by the trial judge.  Duress is a defense to a crime if the accused was compelled or coerced to commit the crime by some human agency, under a threat of serious imminent harm to the accused or others.  United States v. Rockwood, 52 M.J. 98, 112 (C.A.A.F. 1999).

Trial counsel where were you?  One of the primary jobs of a trial counsel during a guilty plea case is to protect the judge and protect the record.  Being a potted plant isn’t good.  An alert trial counsel should be looking out for the record and the judge.  Yes, this error is laid at the door of the judge, but the trial counsel had a role here as well.  Because of the error the case has to be redone.

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