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Interlocutory Appeal – “Alford” Plea – Challenge to Trial Court’s Refusal to Accept

State v. William F. Williams, 2000 WI App 123, 237 Wis.2d 591, 614 N.W.2d 11
For Williams: Steven P. Weiss, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue: Whether the trial court erroneously refused to accept an “Alford” plea under its express policy of never accepting one.


¶8  Even if we were to determine that the trial court erred in rejecting the tendered Alford plea, the error would not justify setting aside the results of Williams’s jury trial. This is because any error stemming from a trial court’s refusal to accept an Alford plea, like error in binding over a defendant following a preliminary hearing, is cured when a defendant receives a fair and error-free trial. See State v. Webb, 160 Wis. 2d 622, 467 N.W.2d 108 (1991)….

¶12  (A) defendant’s opportunity to obtain the benefit of a plea bargain can be adequately protected by requiring a defendant who believes his tendered plea has been improperly rejected to seek leave for an interlocutory appeal.

Is this result at least arguably inconsistent with State v. Ludwig, 124 Wis.2d 600, 369 N.W.2d 722, 725-728 (1985) and State v. Fritz, 212 Wis.2d 284, 569 N.W.2d 48 (Ct. App. 1997)? — i.e., counsel’s deficiency in failing to convey to or properly advise a defendant with respect to a plea offer isn’t rendered non-prejudicial by a resultant fair trial.)


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