Case Briefs- Criminal Law

Yes since it last confronted the issue the court

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Unformatted text preview: insufficient to make an otherwise valid plea coerced within the meaning of the Due Process Clause. Noting the differences across jurisdictions regarding accepting guilty pleas from defendants unwilling to admit their guilt, the Court concluded that the appropriate inquiry was whether the judge accepting the plea had sufficient evidence of guilt, not whether the defendant admitted his guilt. Justice White also explained that there was no basis for distinguishing cases where a defendant professes his innocence from cases in which a defendant pleads guilty but refuses to admit his guilt. States are not required to proceed to trial when defendants voluntarily plead to lesser included charges while maintaining their innocence. Finally, the Court explained that defendants may well choose to plead guilty even where they are not, in fact, guilty based on an evaluation of the strength of the case against them. When, as here, the defendant has competent counsel and makes the knowing, voluntary choice to enter a plea, the outcome remains the same even when he continues to profess innocence. States may allow defendants to plead guilty to crimes while maintaining their innocence without running afoul of due process protections. Courts should focus on evidence of guilt in accepting guilty pleas, not the willingness of the defendant to personally admit his guilt. By requiring that there be some evidence of guilt in such a situation, the decision attempts to protect the really innocent form the temptations to which plea- bargaining and defense attorneys may subject them. People v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (Vagueness) “The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, manifesting exceptional depravity means a consciousless, or pitiless crime which is unnecessarily tortuous to the victim.” The fundamental policy behind the constitutional prohibition of vaguely worded criminal statues was stated in Lanzetta v. New Jersey: “No one may be required at peril of life, liberty or property to speculate as to the meaning of penal statutes. All are entitled to be informed as to what the State commands or forbids.” People v. McCaughan: “A statute must be definite enough to provide a standard of conduct for those whose activities are proscribed as well as a standard for the ascertainment of guilt by the courts called upon to apply it” It is difficult to assign any specific content to the pejoratives contained in the murder law. The language of the law is so vague that men of common intelligence must guess at its meaning, and trial judges will look in vain for a standard for ascertainment of guilt Enmund v. Florida (Death penalty individualized consideration) Enmund aids a felony in the course of which a murder is committed by others but who does not himself kill, attempt to kill, or intend that...
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