SUPERVISORY WRITS TO THE FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT,
PARISH OF CADDO
Relator fails to show that he was denied the effective
assistance of counsel during plea negotiations under the
standard of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668,
104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). As to his remaining
claims, relator fails to satisfy his post-conviction burden
of proof. La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.2.
has now fully litigated his application for post-conviction
relief in state court. Similar to federal habeas relief,
see 28 U.S.C. § 2244, Louisiana post-conviction
procedure envisions the filing of a successive application
only under the narrow circumstances provided in La.C.Cr.P.
art. 930.4 and within the limitations period as set out in
La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.8. Notably, the Legislature in 2013 La.
Acts 251 amended that article to make the procedural bars
against successive filings mandatory. Relator's claims
have now been fully litigated in accord with La.C.Cr.P. art.
930.6, and this denial is final. Hereafter, unless he can
show that one of the narrow exceptions authorizing the filing
of a successive application applies, relator has exhausted
his right to state collateral review. The district court is
ordered to record a minute entry consistent with this per
JOHNSON, C.J. would grant the writ and assigns reasons.
to a plea bargain agreement, defendant gave up his
constitutional right to a jury trial in exchange for a
promise by the state that he would not be charged as a
habitual offender. Although defendant complied with his
obligations under the agreement, the state nonetheless filed
a habitual offender bill. As a result, defendant was
sentenced as a fourth felony offender and sentenced to life
imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of probation,
parole or suspension of sentence. In light of the state's
breach of the agreement, defendant should no longer be bound
by his own obligations under the agreement, including his
agreement to plead guilty.
plea agreement in this case provided that defendant would
plead guilty to charges of possession, distribution, and
conspiracy to distribute cocaine and agree to cooperate and
provide information regarding homicides and drug activity to
law enforcement in exchange for the state's agreement not
to file a habitual offender bill. Defendant detrimentally
relied on the state's promise in pleading guilty, yet he
received nothing of value in return given that he was
sentenced to life in prison.
bargain is a contract between the state and one accused of a
crime. State v. Nall, 379 So.2d 731, 733 (La. 1980).
A contract is formed by the consent of the parties
established through offer and acceptance. The offer and
acceptance may be verbal unless the law prescribes a
requirement of writing. Once there is an offer and
acceptance, the agreement is subject to specific performance.
The party demanding performance of a contract has the burden
of proving its existence. Moreover, the obligation may be
dependent upon an uncertain event. A lawful cause is also
necessary to the existence of a contract. The cause is the
reason why a party obligates himself. State v.
Louis, 94-0761 (La. 11/30/94), 645 So.2d 1144, 1149
(internal citations removed). This court has recently
As a general matter, in determining the validity of
agreements not to prosecute or of plea agreements, the courts
generally refer to analogous rules of contract law, although
a defendant's constitutional right to fairness may be
broader than his or her rights under the law of contract.
State in Interest of E.C., 13-2483, p. 4 (La.
6/13/14), 141 So.3d 785, 787 (per curiam); State v.
Cardon, 06-2305, p. 1 (La. 1/12/07), 946 So.2d 171,
171-72 (per curiam); State v. Givens, 99-3518, p. 14
(La. 1/17/01), 776 So.2d 443, 455; State v. Louis,
94-0761 (La. 11/30/94), 645 So.2d 1144, 1148-49; State v.
Lewis, 539 So.2d 1199, 1204-05 (La. 1989); State v.
Nall, 379 So.2d 731, 734 (La. 1980). See also United
States v. Ringling, 988 F.2d 504, 506 (4th Cir. 1993)
("Plea bargains rest on contractual principles, and each
party should receive the benefit of its bargain. Yet, the
analysis of the plea agreement must be conducted at a more
stringent level than in a commercial contract because the
rights involved are generally fundamental and
State v. Karey, 16-0377 (La. 6/29/17), 232 So.3d
1186, 1190, reh'g denied, 16-0377 (La. 9/6/17),
224 So.3d 959. The disposition of criminal charges by
agreement between the prosecutor and the accused has been
characterized as "an essential component of the
administration of justice." State v. Jones, 398
So.2d 1049, 1052 (La. 1981) (citing Santobello v. New
York, 404 U.S. 257, 260, 92 S.Ct. 495, 498, 30 L.Ed.2d
427, 432 (1971)). The plea bargaining process presupposes
fairness in agreements between an accused and a prosecutor.
Karey, 232 So.3d at 1190. The United States Supreme
Court has made clear that "when a plea rests in any
significant degree on a promise or agreement of the
prosecutor, so that it can be said to be part of the
inducement or consideration, such promise must be
fulfilled." Santobello 404 U.S. at 262. Thus,
when a district attorney or assistant district attorney makes
a good faith bargain with a person accused of a crime and the
defendant, in reliance on that bargain, relinquishes a
fundamental right, the state cannot repudiate the bargain.
Karey, 232 So.3d at 1190. When a defendant enters
into such a plea agreement with the government, the
government takes on certain obligations. If those obligations
are not met, the defendant is entitled to seek a remedy,
which might in some cases be rescission of the agreement and
in others specific performance (i.e., requiring the
government to fully comply with the agreement). Id.
view, there is no question defendant was induced to plead
guilty based on the state's agreement not to charge him
as a habitual offender. Moreover, even if there was no such
plea bargain, if defendant justifiably believed there was,
and pleaded guilty in part because of that justifiable
belief, the guilty plea was not knowingly made and must be
set aside, and defendant must be allowed to plead anew.
See State v. Jones, 398 So.2d 1049, 1053 (La. 1981).
case there was no incentive for defendant to plead guilty and
provide additional information to law enforcement absent his
belief that the state had agreed not file a habitual offender
bill. Absent that promise, it is clear defendant would have
lost nothing by insisting on going to trial. By denying
defendant's writ application, the majority undermines the
very purpose of the plea agreement. In my mind, it is clear
an agreement was reached and that defendant fully performed
by pleading guilty and providing information to law
enforcement. "A guilty plea is a serious and sobering
occasion inasmuch as it constitutes a waiver of the
fundamental right to a jury trial…."
Santobello, 404 U.S. at 264 (Douglas, J.,
concurring); Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 88
S.Ct. 1444, 20 L.Ed.2d 491. Defendant, in relying on his
understanding of the prosecutors' agreement, relinquished
his fundamental right of trial by jury. This court has
consistently permitted a constitutionally infirm guilty plea
to be withdrawn after sentencing by way of appeal or post
conviction relief. See State v. Dixon, 449 So.2d
463, 464 (La. 1984); State v. Hayes, 423 So.2d 1111
is entitled to an appropriate remedy because the state
breached the agreement. Fundamental fairness dictates that