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State v. Parker

Supreme Court of Louisiana

October 22, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
DESMOND C. PARKER

          ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE FOURTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEAL, PARISH OF ORLEANS

          PER CURIAM. [*]

         We granted the application to determine if the lower courts correctly found that the State failed to carry its burden of proving a prior out-of-state guilty plea was knowing, voluntary, and made with an express waiver of defendant's rights in accordance with Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969), for purposes of recidivist sentence enhancement. Finding the State failed to carry its burden, we affirm the ruling of the court of appeal, State v. Parker, 16-1166 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/12/18), 259 So.3d 1113, which found the district court correctly rejected this predicate guilty plea and adjudicated defendant as a third, rather than as a fourth, felony offender.

         After defendant was found guilty of simple robbery and intimidating a witness, the State filed a habitual offender bill of information alleging that defendant was a fourth-felony offender. The district court adjudicated defendant as a third-felony offender after finding that the State failed to prove an out-of-state guilty plea was entered in compliance with Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969). The district court sentenced defendant to serve 14 years imprisonment at hard labor for simple robbery and 10 years imprisonment at hard labor for intimidation of a witness.

         The State sought review of the district court's determination that defendant was only a third-felony offender. A majority of the panel in the court of appeal found that the documentation submitted by the State at the habitual offender adjudication did not show that defendant voluntarily waived each of his Boykin rights. The majority contrasted the proof submitted in the present case with the proof submitted in State v. Shelton, 92-3070 (La. 7/1/93), 621 So.2d 769, and found it lacking:

In Shelton, the State submitted into evidence a minute entry that stated the judge "gave the defendant his rights" and a "Waiver of Constitutional Rights/Plea of Guilty Form" ("the form"). The form listed the Boykin rights with Defendant's initials behind each indicating that he waived the right. The form had additional statements providing that Defendant was well informed of the consequences of his plea. The form was signed by Defendant, the attorney for Defendant, and the trial judge. Considering that evidence, the Supreme Court found that the State met its burden of proving the guilty plea was informed, free and voluntary, and made with an articulated waiver of constitutional rights.
In the instant case, the record is void of any indication that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived each of his Boykin rights. The Alabama Judicial Information System Case Action Summary submitted to the trial court contains entries signed by the Alabama Circuit Judge of the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Alabama. One of the entries states that Defendant waives a jury trial. There is no other reference to Defendant waiving rights and nowhere does he sign or initial any statement of waiver or waiver form. The State cannot overcome the lack of an articulated waiver of Defendant's constitutional rights without a transcript.

Parker, 16-1166, p. 16, 259 So.3d at 1122 (footnote omitted).

         The dissenting member of the panel would find the State's proof of the predicate guilty plea sufficient for recidivist sentence enhancement because a plea form indicated that defendant was advised of his Boykin rights and that by pleading guilty he waived them:

Contained in the Alabama pen pack is a plea form signed by Defendant, his attorney, and the court, on July 25, 2005. The plea form was apparently on legal-sized paper in its original state, but was copied on letter-sized paper. It advises Defendant of all his rights and that by pleading guilty, he waived those rights. Defendant was represented by counsel during all of his court appearances. The entire pen pack is certified by its legal custodian, the Director of Central Records for the State of Alabama Department of Corrections. In addition, the Director's signature is notarized.
I find that the Alabama pen pack more than satisfies the requirements of Louisiana law proving that Defendant was advised of his rights and knowingly and intelligently entered the guilty plea. My finding is supported by many cases from this court. . . . The district court erred by failing to so.

Parker, 16-1166, p. 4, 259 So.3d at 1124 (Lobrano, J., dissenting in part) (citations omitted).

         In Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969), the United States Supreme Court noted that three federal constitutional rights are waived when a plea of guilty is entered in a state criminal trial:

First, is the privilege against compulsory self-incrimination guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment and applicable to the States by reason of the Fourteenth. Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 84 S.Ct. 1489, 12 L.Ed.2d 653. Second, is the right to trial by jury. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 88 S.Ct. 1444, 20 L.Ed.2d 491. Third, is the right to ...

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