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Plea Agreements — Partial Withdrawal: Repudiation of Entire Bargain

State v. Richard A. Lange, 2003 WI App 2
For Lange: Daniel F. Snyder

Issue/Holding: Partial relief against a plea bargain-based guilty plea “constitutes a repudiation of the entire plea agreement,” ¶32, a principle which is now extended to instances where there are multiple judgments of conviction not all of which are under appeal, under the rationale of State v. Briggs, 218 Wis. 2d 61, 579 N.W.2d 783 (Ct. App. 1998):

¶36 We see no reason why the same logic should not apply to the instant case where the convictions covered by a plea agreement are recited in multiple judgments of convictions as opposed to a single judgment of conviction. All of the convictions stemmed from a singular, global plea agreement and thus were “interconnected” within the meaning of Briggs. The multiple convictions could have been entered in a single judgment of conviction, which would clearly allow us to apply Briggs. Commonsense dictates that jurisdictional bars should rest on substantive and meaningful principles, not on the ministerial and artificial choice as to how the judgments of conviction were clerically entered.¶37 Therefore, if the State fails to satisfy its shifted burden under Bangert at the remand proceedings, the trial court is authorized to vacate both judgments of conviction and to reinstate the original charges alleged against Lange in both cases.

One of the major landmines for appellate counsel, but not an especially startling development, see, e.g., United States v. Binford, 108 F.3d 723 (7th Cir. 1997) (in federal system, partial relief on appeal causes “sentencing package” to become “unbundled”). But sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander, so that in some instances the defendant might want to argue entitlement to resentencing after grant of partial relief. The issue here is broader than mere resentencing, namely vacating a plea-based judgment altogether at the state’s behest, but that might be a difference of degree rather than kind. Note, though, that vacating the judgment is discretionary, not mandatory. ¶47 n. 14.)


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