First Seventh Circuit Criminal Case of 2018 Is In: A Violation by a Judge of 11(C)(1) Does Not Automatically Create a Due Process Problem in a Plea

In this case, the Government offered the defendant a plea deal that saved the defendant from a de facto life sentence. When the Government sent the judge an email indicating the terms of the offer tendered, the judge replied in an email that the deal was “exceedingly fair” and “[o]nly a fool would refuse [it].”

Some time after the Defendant took the plea, he filed a petition under 28 USC 2255 asking that the plea be withdrawn because the judge took part in plea negotiations. This petition was denied without a hearing.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding that, even though the email was improper, there was no due process violation and also that the petitioner’s claim that, but for the judge’s comment that he would not have taken the plea was ludicrous.

The case is Williams vs. United States.

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