Friday, June 22, 2012

Johnson v. Uribe (9th Cir. - June 22, 2012)

Yet again I'm more conservative than Judge Kleinfeld and Judge Milan Smith.

The district court made a factual finding on habeas that the defendant would have accepted a deal that would have conditionally sentenced him to the maximum appropriate sentence even if his lawyer had been competent.  It accordingly granted habeas relief but the remedy it imposed -- which is subject to review for abuse of discretion -- was to simply resentence the defendant to the maximum.

The Ninth Circuit affirms the grant of habeas relief but reverses the remedy, holding that the defendant is entitled to entirely withdraw his guilty plea.

Personally, I don't have a definite, firm conviction that the district court was wrong here.  I'm pretty confident that defendant would have accepted the deal -- indeed, virtually any deal -- in order to get out of jail in order to witness the birth of his child.  He accepted a really long sentence.  He would have accepted a shorter one.  And the government knew it had the defendant by the short hairs.

So I'm not certain that the district court erred.  So I'd have to affirm.