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State v. Irish

Supreme Court of Nebraska
Oct 10, 1986
223 Neb. 814 (Neb. 1986)

Summary

holding that guilty plea and nolo contendere plea have similar requirements

Summary of this case from State v. Skerjance

Opinion

No. 85-640.

Filed October 10, 1986.

1. Effectiveness of Counsel. In order to sustain a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. 2. Sentences. It is within the discretion of the trial court to direct that sentences imposed for separate crimes be served consecutively, as opposed to concurrently. 3. Rules of the Supreme Court: Appeal and Error. To be considered by the Supreme Court, errors must be assigned and discussed in the brief of the one claiming that prejudicial error has occurred. Neb. Ct. R. of Prac. 9D(1)d (rev. 1986). 4. Pleas. In order to support a finding that a plea of guilty or nolo contendere has been entered freely, intelligently, voluntarily, and understandingly, the court must (1) inform the defendant concerning (a) the nature of the charge, (b) the right to assistance of counsel, (c) the right to confront witnesses against the defendant, (d) the right to a jury trial, and (e) the privilege against self-incrimination; and (2) examine the defendant to determine that he or she understands the foregoing. Additionally, the record must establish that (1) there is a factual basis for the plea and (2) the defendant knew the range of penalties for the crime with which he or she is charged.

Appeal from the District Court for Dakota County: BRYCE BARTU, Judge. Affirmed.

Richard L. McCoy, for appellant.

Robert M. Spire, Attorney General, and Calvin D. Hansen, for appellee.

BOSLAUGH, WHITE, HASTINGS, CAPORALE, SHANAHAN, and GRANT, JJ.


Richard Irish entered a plea of nolo contendere to second degree forgery. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-603(1) (Reissue 1985). The district court for Dakota County accepted Irish's nolo contendere plea and sentenced him to a 1-year term of imprisonment consecutive to Irish's sentence to imprisonment for his manslaughter conviction which occurred before sentencing on the forgery charge. We affirm.

While Irish was awaiting trial in Dakota County on a charge of manslaughter resulting from a motor vehicle accident, see Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-305 (Reissue 1985), the State filed an additional information in Dakota County on April 19, 1985, charging Irish with perjury. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-417(8) (Reissue 1984), a Class III felony. In that information the State alleged that Irish, in his sworn application for a Nebraska motor vehicle operator's license, falsely stated that his operator's license or privilege had never been suspended or revoked. A jury found Irish guilty of the manslaughter charge. On May 7 the district court sentenced Irish on the manslaughter conviction to imprisonment for a term from 5 to 10 years.

On July 10 Irish appeared in district court for arraignment on the perjury charge. The court reviewed the "plea agreement" signed by Irish, his lawyer, and the Dakota County attorney, which agreement contained the following:

1. Plaintiff will move the Court to amend the charge herein to Forgery in the Second Degree in violation of Section 28-603, a Class I Misdemeanor, alleging that the Defendant did, with intent to deceive, falsely utter a written instrument which purported to be a written instrument which did or might have evidenced a legal right, on September 21, 1982.

2. Defendant will enter a plea of nolo contendere to the amended charge.

3. There is no agreement as to the sentence Defendant will receive at sentencing following said nolo contendere plea, and Defendant fully understands that the Court could impose any sentence from a minimum of no punishment up to and including a maximum punishment of one year incarceration and a fine of $1,000.00.

On entry of Irish's plea of nolo contendere to the amended charge of second degree forgery but before accepting that plea, the court meticulously reviewed the various rights which would be waived by Irish's plea, such as Irish's right to confront and cross-examine his accusers; subpoena for defense witnesses, if necessary; remain silent and the privilege against self-incrimination; trial by jury; and proof of guilt by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, as well as the presumption of innocence. The court also elaborated on the nature of the offense charged and the elements which the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The court heard a factual basis for the offense charged. Concerning a possible sentence, the following colloquy occurred involving the court and Irish:

THE COURT: The court understands that the present charge charges a Class I misdemeanor, Mr. Irish, and under the laws of Nebraska the maximum penalty for that offense is one year imprisonment or a thousand dollar fine or both. Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.

Irish acknowledged he understood all that was said throughout arraignment and during entry of his nolo contendere plea. Further, Irish and his lawyer informed the court that all "rights" attendant to the proceedings had been discussed between them. The State did not indicate or agree to any sentence to be imposed on Irish.

A 1 1/2-hour recess was taken, while Irish reviewed the presentence report which had been prepared for and used in sentencing on May 7 for the manslaughter conviction. Upon resumption of proceedings, Irish declined to make any comment or statement about any sentence which might be imposed, informing the court: "I think my attorney has covered everything pretty well." After Irish's lawyer expressed his view that the appropriate disposition might be a $25 fine paid by Irish, the county attorney responded: "I would recommend, Your Honor, that this Defendant be punished and that it involve a term of imprisonment. Whatever sentence that this court impose be consecutive in nature to what he is presently serving on his manslaughter conviction." After reviewing the presentence report, the district court entered the judgment that Irish "be incarcerated for a period of one year and that the sentence in this case be consecutive to the sentence you're presently serving in Case No. 40-172 [the manslaughter conviction and sentence in May 1985]."

As his first assignment of error, Irish contends that he had "incompetent counsel." Irish, however, does not specifically show how any alleged incompetency affected his decision to enter a plea of nolo contendere. "To maintain a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the record must affirmatively support the defendant's position." State v. Lieberman, 222 Neb. 95, 101-02, 382 N.W.2d 330, 335 (1986). "The defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). Irish's first assignment of error is without merit.

Irish's second assignment of error relates to the consecutive sentence imposed on Irish's nolo contendere plea to the charge of second degree forgery. Specifically, Irish maintains the court abused its discretion in imposing a sentence which ran consecutive to Irish's prior sentence for manslaughter. "It is within the discretion of the trial court to direct that sentences imposed for separate crimes be served consecutively, as opposed to concurrently." State v. Davis, 200 Neb. 557, 559, 264 N.W.2d 198, 200 (1978). See, also, State v. Ellefson, 214 Neb. 747, 336 N.W.2d 88 (1983). The court's sentence was within the maximum range of punishment for a Class I misdemeanor. Under the circumstances of this case, we find no abuse of discretion in the court's decision to impose a consecutive sentence.

Generally, in his third assignment of error, Irish complains that he should have been granted a new trial. However, Irish provides no argument referenced to any particular error justifying a new trial. To be considered by the Supreme Court, errors must be assigned and discussed in the brief of the one claiming that prejudicial error has occurred. See, Neb. Ct. R. of Prac. 9D(1)d (rev. 1986); Fee v. Fee, ante p. 128, 388 N.W.2d 122 (1986).

For his fourth assignment of error, Irish claims that his nolo contendere plea was not made intelligently and voluntarily because the court failed to inform him that the sentence for the forgery conviction might run consecutive to the sentence of imprisonment for 5 to 10 years imposed as a result of Irish's earlier conviction for manslaughter.

It is true that the ABA Standards Relating to Pleas of Guilty (Approved Draft 1968), and as adopted by the association's House of Delegates on February 12, 1979, ABA Standards for Criminal Justice ch. 14 (2d ed. 1980), provide that a defendant pleading guilty or nolo contendere be advised of the effect which may result from the possible imposition of consecutive sentences. It is further true that in State v. Turner, 186 Neb. 424, 426, 183 N.W.2d 763, 765 (1971), this court stated the ABA Standards Relating to Pleas of Guilty "outline what should be the minimum procedure in the taking of such pleas." Through a series of cases, this court has drifted from that statement to language that the court had adopted or embraced some of the standards relating to guilty pleas as reflected by the approved draft of 1968. State v. Lewis, 192 Neb. 518, 222 N.W.2d 815 (1974); State v. Evans, 194 Neb. 559, 234 N.W.2d 199 (1975); State v. Kluge, 198 Neb. 115, 251 N.W.2d 737 (1977); State v. Clark, 217 Neb. 417, 350 N.W.2d 521 (1984).

Recognizing, however, that the work of the ABA, although good and useful, nevertheless does not rise to the status of legislative acts or judicial holdings (see State v. Turner, supra, Carter, J., concurring), we now specifically disapprove any statements that any form of the ABA Standards for Criminal Justice, including those relating to guilty pleas, has been adopted by this state.

This leaves us with the task of restating what must exist in order to support a finding that a plea of guilty or nolo contendere was entered freely, intelligently, voluntarily, and understandingly.

In State v. Turner, supra at 425-26, 183 N.W.2d at 765, this court held: "Before accepting a guilty plea a judge is expected to sufficiently examine the defendant to determine whether he understands the nature of the charge, the possible penalty, and the effect of his plea."

A decade later, State v. Tweedy, 209 Neb. 649, 652, 654-55, 309 N.W.2d 94, 96, 98 (1981), said:

[W]e are faced with the general question of the applicability of the principles of Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969), to misdemeanors. Boykin identified the three main constitutional rights waived when a plea of guilty is accepted, i.e., the privilege against self-incrimination, the right to trial by jury, and the right to confront one's accusers. "We cannot presume a waiver of these three important federal rights from a silent record." Boykin at 243.

We therefore hold that no defendant may be imprisoned for any offense, whether a traffic infraction, misdemeanor, or felony, absent a knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights as provided for by the Boykin-Turner rule. That means that such defendants are entitled to be informed of the nature of the charges against them, the right to assistance of counsel, the right to confront witnesses against them, the right to a jury trial where otherwise authorized, and the privilege against self-incrimination. A voluntary and intelligent waiver of these rights must affirmatively appear from the record.

In Tweedy we also said at 651, 309 N.W.2d at 96:

The preferred procedure for ascertaining whether or not a factual basis exists to support a guilty plea is to inquire directly of the defendant. However, an examination of a presentence report containing such facts made before sentencing is an acceptable alternative. State v. Daniels, 190 Neb. 602, 211 N.W.2d 127 (1973); State v. Leger, 190 Neb. 352, 208 N.W.2d 276 (1973). We have also suggested that by a defendant admitting that he is in fact guilty of the crime charged, he has furnished a factual basis for accepting the plea. State v. Hyslop, 189 Neb. 331, 202 N.W.2d 595 (1972).

See, also, State v. Richter, 220 Neb. 551, 371 N.W.2d 125 (1985), which rules that a factual basis may be determined from inquiry of the defendant or county attorney, or by examination of the presentence investigation.

In State v. Curnyn, 202 Neb. 135, 274 N.W.2d 157 (1979), we held a plea could stand notwithstanding the fact that the defendant was not informed during arraignment of the range of penalties, provided the record otherwise established the defendant was aware of the penal consequences of his or her plea. For a recent affirmation of the rule, see State v. Fischer, 220 Neb. 664, 371 N.W.2d 316 (1985).

The rule to be distilled from the foregoing holdings, thus, is that in order to support a finding that a plea of guilty or nolo contendere has been entered freely, intelligently, voluntarily, and understandingly,

1. The court must

a. inform the defendant concerning (1) the nature of the charge; (2) the right to assistance of counsel; (3) the right to confront witnesses against the defendant; (4) the right to a jury trial; and (5) the privilege against self-incrimination; and

b. examine the defendant to determine that he or she understands the foregoing.

2. Additionally, the record must establish that

a. there is a factual basis for the plea; and

b. the defendant knew the range of penalties for the crime with which he or she is charged.

We conclude that the taking of the foregoing steps is sufficient to assure that a plea represents a voluntary and intelligent choice among the alternative courses of action open to a criminal defendant, the ultimate standard by which pleas of guilty or nolo contendere are to be tested. North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970); State v. Turner, 186 Neb. 424, 183 N.W.2d 763 (1971).

We thus reject Irish's claim he should have been told of the effect of the possible imposition of consecutive sentences. We recognize that in State v. Curnyn, supra, we said it is "difficult to conceive how a guilty plea can be voluntary and intelligent unless and until the defendant is informed or is made aware of the possible penalties to which he may be subjected . . . ." Id. at 140, 274 N.W.2d at 161. That statement does not mean, however, that the court must explain whether each sentence imposed for each separate crime is to be served concurrently with or consecutively to any other sentence which may be imposed, or which the defendant is already serving, for another crime. Explaining the possible range of penalties for each crime is adequate to enable a defendant to freely, voluntarily, intelligently, and understandingly plead to each crime with which he is charged. See, Fed. R. Crim. P. 11; United States v. Hamilton, 568 F.2d 1302 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied 436 U.S. 944, 98 S.Ct. 2846, 56 L.Ed.2d 785.

There being no merit to Irish's several assignments of error, the judgment and sentence of the trial court are affirmed.

AFFIRMED.

KRIVOSHA, C.J., participating on briefs.


Summaries of

State v. Irish

Supreme Court of Nebraska
Oct 10, 1986
223 Neb. 814 (Neb. 1986)

holding that guilty plea and nolo contendere plea have similar requirements

Summary of this case from State v. Skerjance

holding in relevant part that the trial court must examine the defendant to determine whether the defendant understood the trial court's admonishments and noting that the record must establish that there is a factual basis for the plea and the defendant was advised of the range of penalties for the offense charged

Summary of this case from Houston v. State

requiring guilty and nolo contendere pleas to be supported by a factual basis in the record

Summary of this case from United States v. Williams

In State v. Irish, 223 Neb. 814, 394 N.W.2d 879, 883 (1986), the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that in order to support a finding that a plea of guilty or nolo contendere has been entered freely, intelligently, voluntarily, and understandingly, the record must establish that there is a factual basis for the plea.

Summary of this case from Dean v. Smith

In State v. Irish, 223 Neb. 814, 394 N.W.2d 879 (1986), this court first specified the requirements for finding that a guilty plea has been entered freely, intelligently, voluntarily, and understandingly.

Summary of this case from State v. Jones

In State v. Irish, 223 Neb. 814, 394 N.W.2d 879 (Neb. 1986), three justices dissented from the majority's conclusion that the defendant need not be told of the possible imposition of consecutive sentences in order for the plea to be knowing and voluntary.

Summary of this case from State v. White

In Irish, we thus rejected the defendant's claim that he should have been told of the effect of the possible imposition of consecutive sentences.

Summary of this case from State v. McBride

In State v. Irish, 223 Neb. 814, 394 N.W.2d 879 (1986), the defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for 1 year for second degree forgery, the sentence to run consecutively to a 5- to 10-year sentence for manslaughter the defendant was then serving.

Summary of this case from State v. Lyman

In Irish, one of those preconditions is that the "defendant knew the range of penalties for the crime with which he or she is charged."

Summary of this case from State v. Kevin
Case details for

State v. Irish

Case Details

Full title:STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE, v. RICHARD IRISH, APPELLANT

Court:Supreme Court of Nebraska

Date published: Oct 10, 1986

Citations

223 Neb. 814 (Neb. 1986)
394 N.W.2d 879

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