Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 314, 837 Honorable
Brady D. O'Callaghan, Judge
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Holli Herrle-Castillo Counsel
E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee
J. JOHNSON MEKISHA S. CREAL Assistant District Attorneys
PITMAN, GARRETT, and STEPHENS, JJ.
criminal appeal arises from the First Judicial District
Court, Parish of Caddo, the Honorable Brady O'Callaghan
presiding. On June 13, 2016, defendant, Marc Q. Scroggins,
entered an Alford plea of guilty as charged to
illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities,
committed while attempting to commit a crime of violence, in
violation of La. R.S. 14:94. On November 17, 2016, the trial
court then sentenced Defendant to 17 years at hard labor, to
be served without the benefit of probation, parole, or
suspension of sentence. Defendant has appealed his sentence
as excessive. Finding error patent on the record, in that the
record of the guilty plea proceeding does not contain a
factual basis for Defendant's plea as required by
North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160,
27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970), we pretermit consideration of
Defendant's assignment of error, reverse Defendant's
conviction and sentence, and remand this case for further
2, 2013,  Defendant, while at his doctor's
office, got into a verbal altercation with another patient,
Raymond Grant, over which man would be seen first by the
doctor. Defendant, accompanied by his girlfriend, Britney
Casey, and her cousin, Wilbur Thomas, left the office to go
outside and wait in the parking lot. Grant came out shortly
thereafter and, according to Ms. Casey, pulled out a gun and
fired at Defendant. At that time, Defendant brandished a
rifle, which prompted Grant to take off running. Defendant
chased after Grant, firing the rifle. A stray bullet fired
from Defendant's rifle entered the home of Dorothy
Johnson, striking her in the chest and arm.
August 31, 2015, Defendant was charged by amended bill of
information with illegal use of weapons or dangerous
instrumentalities.The bill alleged that Defendant committed
the offense while attempting to commit a crime of violence,
specifically aggravated assault, in violation of La. R.S.
14:94(F). Defendant waived arraignment and pled not guilty to
13, 2016, Defendant withdrew his former not guilty plea and
noted his desire to plead guilty as charged pursuant to
North Carolina v. Alford, supra. As noted
above, the state did not provide a factual basis for the
plea during the guilty plea hearing. Both the defense
and state confirmed that no agreement was made regarding the
sentence Defendant would receive, and the trial court
informed Defendant that he faced a sentence of 10 to 20 years
at hard labor, without the benefit of probation, parole, or
suspension of sentence. The trial court advised Defendant of
his Boykin rights-his right to remain silent, his
right to a jury trial and his right to confront his accusers.
Defendant waived his rights, explaining that he desired to
plead guilty, was not under the influence of any intoxicating
substances, and that his plea was not the product of
coercion, inducements or threats. In response to a question
from the trial court, defense counsel summarily stated his
belief that Defendant's mental capacity did not affect
his ability to understand his rights and the consequences of
pleading guilty. The trial court then accepted
Defendant's guilty plea and ordered the preparation of a
presentence investigation (PSI) report.
accompanied by a claim of innocence is an Alford
plea, and it puts the trial court on notice that it must
ascertain a factual basis to support the plea. State v.
Orman, 1997-2089 (La. 01/09/98), 704 So.2d 245. In a
case involving a bona fide Alford plea, the record
must contain "strong evidence of actual guilt."
Alford, 400 U.S. at 38, 91 S.Ct. 2d at 167;
State v. Orman, supra. As noted by this Court in
State v. McLemore, 619 So.2d 210 (La.App. 2 Cir.
1993), when a plea is made pursuant to Alford, a
significant factual basis must be established in order for
the plea to be constitutionally valid. See also, State v.
Wills, 32, 073 (La.App. 2 Cir. 06/16/99), 740 So.2d 741;
State v. Jackson, 2017-612 (La.App. 5 Cir.
04/11/18), 245 So.3d 1250.
is absolutely no factual basis on the record prior to
Defendant's guilty plea. That the facts supporting
Defendant's plea may have been developed several months
later at his sentencing hearing and during preparation of the
PSI does not cure the constitutional deficiency in this
guilty plea. As noted above, a factual basis for a guilty
plea prior to entry of the plea is required by
Alford, especially in a case like this one, where a
trial court has a valid concern about, inter alia, a
defendant's ability to understand the nature of the
charge to which he is pleading guilty.
therefore set aside Defendant's conviction and sentence
and remand the case to the trial ...