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Plea-Withdrawal, Pre-Sentencing – “Fair and Just” Reason: Coercion by Counsel

State v. Eugene D. Rhodes, 2008 WI App 32, PFR filed 1/15/08
For Rhodes: Joseph E. Redding

Issue/Holding: Counsel’s “forceful” advice that defendant enter a guilty plea wasn’t in and of itself a “fair and just” reason sufficient to require pre-sentencing grant of a motion to withdraw the plea:

¶11      Rhodes proffers his attorney’s “forceful advice” as the coercion present here. We reject such a contention. Defense counsel’s professional belief was that if Rhodes went to trial he would be convicted. This was based on the ruling that the detailed confession would be admitted and upon defense counsel’s investigation of potential alibi witnesses that simply did not pan out. Under such circumstances, a defense counsel would be remiss to advise a defendant to go to trial, knowing that a conviction was highly likely. Moreover, it was undisputed fact that after the “forceful advice,” defense counsel told Rhodes that whether to go to trial was ultimately his decision. Rhodes concedes this fact, but still elected to plead guilty.

State v. Shanks, 152 Wis. 2d 284, 290, 448 N.W.2d 264 (Ct. App. 1989) distinguished (¶12): no showing the plea was entered hastily; trial court not persuaded by Rhodes’ claim of innocence; etc.


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