EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Going Into Withdrawal: Western District Of Kentucky Finds Evidence Related To Plea Withdrawal Indamissible Under Rule 410

Federal Rule of Evidence 410 states in relevant part that

Except as otherwise provided in this rule, evidence of the following is not, in any civil or criminal proceeding, admissible against the defendant who made the plea or was a participant in the plea discussions:

(1) a plea of guilty which was later withdrawn...

(3) any statement made in the course of any proceedings under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or comparable state procedure regarding either of the foregoing pleas....

Meanwhile, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(f) states that

The admissibility or inadmissibility of a plea, a plea discussion, and any related statement is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 410.

So, let's say that a defendant pleads guilty pursuant to a plea agreement. Then, under the advisement of new counsel, the defendant moves to withdraw her guilty plea, supplying an affidavit supporting the withdrawal of her guilty plea. Thereafter, a hearing is held to examine the withdrawal of her plea, with the defendant testifying as to her innocence and offering a recently discovered letter. If the court allows the defendant to withdraw her guilty plea, should the prosecution be able to admit the defendant's affidavit, testimony, and/or letter at the ensuing trial? According to the recent opinion of the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in United States v. Young, 2011 WL 96627 (W.D.Ky. 2011), the answer is "no."

In Young, the facts were as states above, with Tanashea Young being the defendant charged with thirty-one counts of mail fraud in connection with her operation of a child-care facility. In deeming her affidavit, testimony, and letter inadmissible, the Western District of Kentucky initially noted that "neither Rule 410 nor Rule 11 explicitly discusses whether evidence offered at a withdrawal of plea hearing should be excluded." That said,

After reviewing the rules' language, their legislative histories, and the relevant precedent, the Court f[ound] that the evidence Young offered in her withdrawal of plea hearing [wa]s not admissible in Government's case-in-chief. First, Rule 410 is clear that "any statement made during the course of any proceeding under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure" is not admissible....Under Rule 11(d), a defendant does not have an absolute right to withdraw a plea of guilty; in fact, a criminal defendant that has voluntarily entered a guilty plea and then later moves to have it withdrawn must show "fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal."...Therefore, a Rule 11 hearing to determine whether a defendant has just cause to withdraw a plea of guilty qualifies as a "proceeding" protected under the language of Rule 410. In addition, section three of Rule 410 is written in broad language, excluding "any statement"; that the disputed items are exculpatory rather than inculpatory is therefore irrelevant to this analysis. Finally, as the Court requested the parties submit briefs in advance of the proceeding, Young's affidavit would also be considered a statement during the Rule 11 proceeding. For these reasons alone, the language of the rules will not permit Government to employ any of these items in its case-in-chief.



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