From Casetext: Smarter Legal Research

Menna v. New York

U.S.
Nov 17, 1975
423 U.S. 61 (1975)

Summary

holding that Tollett does not prevent a defendant from challenging a conviction based on the double jeopardy clause

Summary of this case from United States v. Scott

Opinion

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK.

No. 75-5401.

Decided November 17, 1975.

Petitioner's guilty plea to a charge of refusal to answer questions before a grand jury after having been granted immunity held not to bar his claim that the Double Jeopardy Clause precluded the State from haling him into court on that charge after he had been sentenced to a jail term for contempt of court for his failure to testify before the grand jury.

Certiorari granted; 36 N.Y.2d 930, 335 N.E.2d 848, reversed and remanded.


On November 7, 1968, after having been granted immunity, petitioner refused to answer questions put to him before a duly convened Kings County, N. Y., grand jury which was investigating a murder conspiracy. On March 18, 1969, petitioner refused to obey a court order to return to testify before the same grand jury in connection with the same investigation. On that date, petitioner was adjudicated in contempt of court under N.Y. Jud. Law § 750 (1968) for his failure to testify before the grand jury; and, on March 21, 1969, after declining an offer to purge his contempt, petitioner was sentenced to a flat 30-day term in civil jail. Petitioner served his sentence.

On June 10, 1970, petitioner was indicted for his refusal to answer questions before the grand jury on November 7, 1968. After asserting unsuccessfully that this indictment should be dismissed under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, petitioner pleaded guilty to the indictment and was sentenced on his plea.

Petitioner appealed, claiming that the Double Jeopardy Clause precluded the State from haling him into court on the charge to which he had pleaded guilty. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, declining to address the double jeopardy claim on the merits. It held, relying, inter alia, on Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258 (1973), that the double jeopardy claim had been "waived" by petitioner's counseled plea of guilty.

The State concedes that petitioner's double jeopardy claim is a strong one on the merits. In light of the flat 30-day sentence imposed, the earlier contempt adjudication was a criminal conviction, People v. Colombo, 31 N.Y.2d 947, 293 N.E.2d 247 (1972), on remand from Colombo v. New York, 405 U.S. 9 (1972), and New York law supports the proposition that the earlier conviction was based, at least in part, on the failure to answer questions on November 7, 1968, and was thus for the same crime as the one charged in the instant indictment. In re Capio v. Justices of the Supreme Court, 41 A.D.2d 235, 342 N.Y.S.2d 100 (1973), aff'd, 34 N.Y.2d 603, 310 N.E.2d 547 (1974); People v. Matra, 42 A.D.2d 865, 346 N.Y.S.2d 872 (1973).

We reverse. Where the State is precluded by the United States Constitution from haling a defendant into court on a charge, federal law requires that a conviction on that charge be set aside even if the conviction was entered pursuant to a counseled plea of guilty. Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21, 30 (1974). The motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and the petition for certiorari are granted, and the case is remanded to the New York Court of Appeals for a determination of petitioner's double jeopardy claim on the merits, a claim on which we express no view.

Neither Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258 (1973), nor our earlier cases on which it relied, e. g., Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742 (1970), and McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759 (1970), stand for the proposition that counseled guilty pleas inevitably "waive" all antecedent constitutional violations. If they did so hold, the New York Court of Appeals might be correct. However, in Tollett we emphasized that waiver was not the basic ingredient of this line of cases, 411 U.S., at 266. The point of these cases is that a counseled plea of guilty is an admission of factual guilt so reliable that, where voluntary and intelligent, it quite validly removes the issue of factual guilt from the case. In most cases, factual guilt is a sufficient basis for the State's imposition of punishment. A guilty plea, therefore, simply renders irrelevant those constitutional violations not logically inconsistent with the valid establishment of factual guilt and which do not stand in the way of conviction, if factual guilt is validly established. Here, however, the claim is that the State may not convict petitioner no matter how validly his factual guilt is established. The guilty plea, therefore, does not bar the claim. We do not hold that a double jeopardy claim may never be waived. We simply hold that a plea of guilty to a charge does not waive a claim that — judged on its face — the charge is one which the State may not constitutionally prosecute.

So ordered.

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN agrees that "[w]here the State is precluded by the United States Constitution from haling a defendant into court on a charge, federal law requires that a conviction on that charge be set aside even if the conviction was entered pursuant to a counseled plea of guilty," ante, at 62, but on his view that the Double Jeopardy Clause bars the prosecution from mounting successive prosecutions for offenses growing out of the same criminal transaction, he believes that the proper disposition of the case is not a remand but outright reversal. See Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 453-454 (1970) (BRENNAN, J., concurring).

THE CHIEF JUSTICE and MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST would grant the petition for a writ of certiorari and set the case for oral argument.


Summaries of

Menna v. New York

U.S.
Nov 17, 1975
423 U.S. 61 (1975)

holding that Tollett does not prevent a defendant from challenging a conviction based on the double jeopardy clause

Summary of this case from United States v. Scott

holding that a guilty plea did not foreclose the defendant's right to claim a double jeopardy violation

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Johnston

holding that a guilty plea does not waive a defendant's right to challenge the prosecution on double jeopardy grounds

Summary of this case from United States v. Akpi

holding that the bar on collateral challenges to pre-plea errors did not apply to a claim that the indictment under which a defendant pleaded guilty placed him in double jeopardy

Summary of this case from Knapp v. L.A. Cnty. Sheriff's Dept

holding that a guilty plea "renders irrelevant those constitutional violations not logically inconsistent with the valid establishment of factual guilt"

Summary of this case from Dailey v. United States

holding that the bar on collateral challenges to pre-plea errors did not apply to a claim that the indictment under which a defendant pleaded guilty placed him in double jeopardy

Summary of this case from Brown v. Katavich

holding that the bar on collateral challenges to pre-plea errors did not apply to a claim that the indictment under which a defendant pleaded guilty placed him in double jeopardy

Summary of this case from Nickelson v. Franke

holding that the bar on collateral challenges to pre-plea errors did not apply to a claim that the indictment under which a defendant pleaded guilty placed him in double jeopardy

Summary of this case from Bradley v. Hartley

holding that the bar on collateral challenges to pre-plea errors did not apply to a claim that the indictment under which a defendant pleaded guilty placed him in double jeopardy

Summary of this case from Griffin v. Heartley

holding that otherwise valid guilty pleas can be set aside where the charges violate double jeopardy

Summary of this case from Belle v. Superintendent

holding that bar on collateral challenges to pre-plea errors did not preclude defendant from asserting double jeopardy to indictment under which he pleaded guilty

Summary of this case from Clarke v. Cate

holding double jeopardy claim not barred by guilty plea

Summary of this case from Wiggins v. McDonough

holding double jeopardy claim not barred by guilty plea

Summary of this case from Slavek v. Hinkle

holding double jeopardy claim to be jurisdictional

Summary of this case from Slavek v. Hinkle

holding that a plea of guilty did not waive a challenge to the constitutionality of the prosecution itself and the petitioner could directly appeal in order to challenge the charge on double jeopardy grounds

Summary of this case from Fireman v. U.S.

holding double jeopardy claim was not "waived" by defendant's counseled plea of guilty

Summary of this case from Gonzalez v. State

holding a guilty plea does not preclude a defendant from raising a double jeopardy claim on review

Summary of this case from State v. Offutt

finding that the defendant's guilty plea did not foreclose him from raising a constitutional claim in a federal habeas corpus proceeding on the ground of a violation of the double jeopardy clause

Summary of this case from United States v. Chua

finding that where the State is precluded from "hailing a defendant into court on a charge" the conviction on that charge must be set aside even if the conviction was entered pursuant to a plea of guilty

Summary of this case from Jackson v. State

concluding that valid guilty plea waives preceding constitutional errors, unless related to court's power to "hav[e] a defendant into court on a charge"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Washington

recognizing that a guilty plea conclusively establishes the factual predicate for the offense to which the defendant is pleading guilty

Summary of this case from State v. Hewins

recognizing that a guilty plea conclusively establishes the factual predicate for the offense to which the defendant is pleading guilty

Summary of this case from State v. Hewins

In Menna, the indictment was facially duplicative of the earlier offense of which the defendant had been convicted and sentenced so that the admissions made by Menna's guilty plea could not conceivably be construed to extend beyond a redundant confession to the earlier offense.

Summary of this case from United States v. Broce

In Menna, the Court concluded that the defendant's guilty plea didn't bar his claim of double jeopardy because it too was a claim that "the State is precluded by the United States Constitution from haling a defendant into court on a charge."

Summary of this case from United States v. Lozano

permitting double jeopardy claim after guilty plea

Summary of this case from United States v. Ríos-Rivera
Case details for

Menna v. New York

Case Details

Full title:MENNA v . NEW YORK

Court:U.S.

Date published: Nov 17, 1975

Citations

423 U.S. 61 (1975)
96 S. Ct. 241

Citing Cases

United States v. Broce

On that premise the government argues that an unconditional plea of guilty constitutes that waiver,…

United States v. De Vaughn

A narrow exception exists for two constitutional claims—due process claims for vindictive prosecution and…