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Habeas Petition Claiming Involuntary Plea Rejected

By FindLaw Staff on February 16, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Forsyth v. Spencer, No. 09-1011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit faced a challenge to a denial of defendant's request for habeas relief arguing, among other things, that his plea was based upon inaccurate and incomplete information and therefore involuntary.

As stated in the decision:  "From these affidavits and the later proceedings, it is clear the parties at the conference could not agree upon a recommended sentence; but they agreed that defendant would aim to plead guilty to the three less serious charges in exchange for the dismissal of the assault with intent to murder charge.  None of the three affiants claims that a specific sentence recommendation was promised by the prosecutor."

In affirming the denial of defendant's petition, the Court ruled that his due process claim fails insofar as it rests on the premise that plea counsel provided false information about the prosecutor's commitments or intentions.  In affirming the denial, the Court further rejected defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. 

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