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Criminal Procedure — breach of plea agreement

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Criminal Procedure — breach of plea agreement — ineffective assistance

Where a defendant refused to admit to the government’s proposed facts in a proposed plea agreement, the government did not breach the agreement, and the defendant’s attorney was not deficient.

“The district court, in direct response to Thompson’s continued refusal to admit to the entire factual basis of the proposed plea agreement, explained that the government would try to increase Thompson’s sentence by presenting evidence at his sentencing hearing about the drug quantities and guns involved in the conspiracy as well as his role in the offense. Moreover, the court also informed Thompson that it would have the final say over the length of his sentence and that, regardless of the limits of his plea, he faced a statutory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a statutory maximum of life. The government also made clear its intention to prove those additional facts at sentencing. And Friedlander asserted, and Thompson agreed, that Thompson understood the preponderance standard that would apply to the government’s efforts to prove aggravating factors at sentencing. Finally, Thompson himself demonstrated an understanding of the sentencing process, noting that issues about his use of guns would be addressed during sentencing. Friedlander cannot be blamed for Thompson’s willful ignorance in the face of these robust warnings, or be said to have prejudiced him. See Wyatt, 574 F.3d at 458–59; Bethel, 458 F.3d at 718–20. And Friedlander could do little else to protect his client who insisted on admitting to at least some role in the charged drug conspiracy. See Florida v. Nixon, 543 U.S. 175, 187 (2004) (defendant has final say over fundamental trial decisions including whether to plead guilty); Ward v. Jenkins, 613 F.3d 692, 699 (7th Cir. 2010) (same).”


12-2814 Thompson v. U.S.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Bucklo, J., Per Curiam.

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