Brief filed: 03/25/2021
United States v. Gary
United States Supreme Court; Case No. 20-444
Decision below 963 F.3d 420 (4th Cir. 2020)
Depriving the defendant of the right to decide whether to plead guilty unconstitutionally undermines his autonomy interest. The decision to plead guilty is entrusted to the defendant alone and thus implicates his fundamental autonomy interest. The requirement that a guilty plea be knowing and voluntary safeguards the defendant’s autonomy interest. The failure to inform the defendant of each element of the offense to which he is pleading guilty requires vacatur of the plea. Permitting the court to impose punishment based on hypothetical guilty pleas would be a dangerous constitutional innovation. Given that the Framers’ vision of a system of jury trials has already been displaced by pleas, the Court should not accept anything less than informed and voluntary pleas.
David Bitkower, Corinne M. Smith, and Rebecca R. Fate, Jenner & Block LLP, Washington, DC.