“I didn’t want to plead guilty.” Followed with “my lawyers forced me.”
That’s a not infrequent complaint with appellant’s who plead guilty.
“In another, the defendent objected to the Navy counsel’s advice to plead “guilty.” He stated that though he admitted guilt, “he could have beaten it with a good lawyer.” Chaplain Reports on Prisoner’s Opinions of Naval Justice. 5 January 1947, at 15.
Forty-two (42) of the one hundred fourteen (114) complaints were directed at Naval Counsel. This heavy proportion held true generally in several places where prisoners were questioned. Consequently, it may be concluded that there were some solid bases of complaint concerning the qualifications and the trial judgment of a number of those who defended Courts Martial. Of the forty-two (42) complaints concerning Counsel, fourteen (14) complained of wrong advice of counsel for prisoner’s plea of “guilty” while eighteen (8) charged counsel with incompetence either generally or in some part of the proceedings. Seven (7) complained of the refusal to provide naval counsel of their choice–one 0) of the refusal to permit civilian counsel of his choice–one (1) that he was not provided with counsel and one that he was refused permission to obtain an attorney.
Chaplain Report at 19.
So, nothing’s changed. What has changed are the qualifications and in many cases the experience of defense counsel.