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Criminal Procedure Keyed to Dressler
North Carolina v. Alford
Citation:400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162.
The defendant was charged with murder. He was appointed an attorney, and the attorney questioned all but one of the various witnesses who the defendant said would substantiate his claim of innocence. The witnesses, however, gave statements that strongly indicated his guilt. Faced with strong evidence of guilt and no substantial evidentiary support for the claim of innocence, the defendant’s attorney recommended that he plead guilty. The prosecutor agreed to accept a plea of guilty to a reduced murder charge.
Before the plea was accepted by the trial court, the State presented evidence. After the presentation of the State’s case, the defendant testified that he had not committed the murder but that he was pleading guilty because he faced the threat of the death penalty if he did not do so. The trial court sentenced him to 30 years’ imprisonment.
He appealed, and the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found his plea of guilty invalid.
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