Wisconsin Court of Appeals reviews claims for plea withdrawal.

AuthorZiemer, David

Byline: David Ziemer

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals issued two decisions addressing the standard for plea withdrawals, holding in both cases that the motion for withdrawal was properly denied.

Package Pleas

In the first case, Timothy Goyette was charged with three others in the fatal beating of a man. Initially they were charged with first-degree intentional homicide, as party to a crime.

Ultimately, however, the prosecutor offered a "package plea agreement" - a plea agreement contingent upon three of the co-defendants pleading guilty (the fourth's case was resolved by separate agreement). Under the agreement, the defendants pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless homicide, and aggravated battery with a gang enhancer.

At a joint plea hearing with the three defendants, Goyette pleaded guilty. During the colloquy, Goyette stated that nobody had threatened or pressured him to get him to enter the agreement.

After Goyette was sentenced to 25 years in prison, he moved to withdraw his plea, arguing that he believed he was innocent, but that he pleaded guilty under pressure, so that the codefendants could reach plea agreements.

La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Dale T. Pasell held an evidentiary hearing, but denied the motion. Goyette appealed, but the court of appeals affirmed in a decision by Judge Paul G. Lundsten.

The court held that the "package" nature of the plea did not render it involuntary. The court found the pressure to be no different than in the cases of Craker v. State, 66 Wis. 2d 222, 223 N.W.2d 872 (1974); Seybold v. State, 61 Wis. 2d 227, 212 N.W.2d 146 (1973); and Drake v. State, 45 Wis. 2d 226, 172 N.W.2d 664 (1969).

In Craker, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held a plea was voluntary, although the defendant claimed he was coerced by pressure from family, friends, and clergy.

In Seybold, the plea agreement provided that the defendant's wife, a co-defendant, would receive only probation. In Drake, the defendant claimed he pleaded guilty only to avoid implicating his wife. In both cases, the Supreme Court held the pleas voluntary, notwithstanding such outside pressure.

Applying those cases to Goyette, the court of appeals concluded, "Collectively, Craker, Seybold, and Drake reject the proposition that a plea is constitutionally involuntary if it is motivated by a desire to obtain a benefit for another. None of these cases involved a package plea agreement, but Goyette suggests no reason why their reasoning should not apply here."


To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT