Alabama v. Smith

PETITIONER: Alabama
RESPONDENT: Smith
LOCATION: State University of New York Albany

DOCKET NO.: 88-333
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Alabama

CITATION: 490 US 794 (1989)
ARGUED: Apr 24, 1989
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1989

ADVOCATES:
Delores R. Boyd - on behalf of the Respondent
P. David Bjurberg - on behalf of the Petitioner
Paul J. Larkin, Jr. - amicus curiae, supporting the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Alabama v. Smith

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 24, 1989 in Alabama v. Smith

William H. Rehnquist:

We will hear argument next in No. 88-333, Alabama against James Lewis Smith.

P. David Bjurberg:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

In North Carolina v. Pearce, this Court established a prophylactic rule, a presumption of vindictiveness to correct due process violations by courts that sentenced a defendant to more than... more time after a successful appeal.

The evil sought to be corrected was retaliation in success... for successfully appealing.

In this case, Smith, that is, the Respondent, appealed his guilty plea, and, upon retrial, his sentence on the burglary charge was enhanced from 30 years to life.

He was also sentenced to life on a reinstated sodomy charge and given 150 years on the rape conviction to run consecutively to the other charges.

Later cases by this Court has established that the Pearce presumption only applies to situations in which a realistic likelihood of vindictiveness exists because of the severity of the presumption, which may operate in the absence of proof of improper motive, and, thereby, block a legitimate state response to criminal conduct.

William H. Rehnquist:

Let me get one thing straight in my mind, Mr. Bjurberg.

P. David Bjurberg:

Yes.

William H. Rehnquist:

The original appeal to the Alabama, it was the Court of Criminal Appeals in this case, was on the basis that the guilty plea had not been knowingly made?

P. David Bjurberg:

The narrow basis was that the Defendant was not told the correct minimum and maximum possible range of sentences under our habitual felony offender statute and an enhancement statute when a weapon or dangerous instrument is used.

It was not based on a violation of Boykin.

William H. Rehnquist:

So, he... he appealed his sentence on the guilty plea and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his appeal, and, what, sent it back for resentencing without that guilty plea?

P. David Bjurberg:

They, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals sent back for a retrial.

William H. Rehnquist:

Re... sure, for a trial--

P. David Bjurberg:

Right.

William H. Rehnquist:

--rather than a plea.

P. David Bjurberg:

Yes.

What the Petitioner, the state of Alabama, is asking this Court to consider in this particular case is, in a retrial after a guilty plea, that since there are other readily apparent explanations for the increased... increased sentence on the retrial, that there is no need for the evidentiary aid, namely, the presumption that Pearce created.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

So it's not important that there was a plea bargain in this case?

That's--

P. David Bjurberg:

It is important that there was a plea.

That's the underlying premise, I guess--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

--No, a plea bargain.

P. David Bjurberg:

--I'm sorry, the... yeah, there was a plea bargain.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Is that relevant to your case or is your case the same as if there had just been a guilty plea?

P. David Bjurberg:

It's important that there was a plea bargain in our case, because, in the plea bargain, the prosecutor and the court are oftentimes, or always, almost, engaging in exchange for that plea bargain, either sentencing concessions or charge concessions, as in this case.

So the fact that there is a plea bargain, I think, is very important, in that it throws this case into the U.S. v. Brady and the Santobello line of cases, where it's acceptable to, in exchange for a guilty plea, to offer sentencing concessions and to... charge concessions.

John Paul Stevens:

Well, how often are there guilty pleas entered without a plea bargain?

Isn't that characteristic of guilty pleas?