Monday, February 03, 2014

United States v. Williams, No. 12-30353 (2-3-14)(Rakoff, Sr D.J., with McKeown and Clifton).

In a Supervised Release violation case, as a legal matter, the 9th holds that "an Alford plea is insufficient evidence to prove commission of a state crime for purposes of a federal supervised release violation when the state itself does not treat as probative of the fact that the defendant actually committed the acts constituting the crime or crimes of conviction."  This is a narrow issue regarding Supervised Release and violations, and hinges on the Supervised Release condition that the defendant not commit any federal, state, or local crimes.  The defendant may have made an Alford plea to an offense, but may not have committed it.  The 9th follows the 3rd Cir. in this analysis,   Moreover, critically, under Washington state law, a nolo plea is not probative evidence.  As the 9th observes, usually the "commits" language hurts the defendant; here, with the Alford plea, it benefits him.  The case is remanded for the court to determine whether the offense was actually committed.

Congrats to Asst. Fed. Def. of Eastern Washington and Idaho for a splendid result.


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