Campbell v. State

Citation262 Ind. 594,321 N.E.2d 560
Decision Date07 January 1975
Docket NumberNo. 1173S233,1173S233
PartiesHoward CAMPBELL, Appellant (Defendant Below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Harriette Bailey Conn, Public Defender, William B. Bryan, Deputy Public Defender, Indianapolis, for appellant.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., Robert F. Colker, Asst. Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

PRENTICE, Justice.

This is an appeal from a denial of a motion to correct errors following the denial of a Post-Conviction Remedy Rule 1 motion to vacate the prior judgment, withdraw the plea of guilty and grant a jury trial. It presents two issues: (1) If the defendant lacked knowledge of whether or not he was guilty, as he alleged, was his guilty plea thereby rendered void? (2) Did the trial court's failure to advise the defendant of his constitutional right to confront his accusers and of the constitutional prohibition against compulsory self-incrimination render his guilty plea void?

Defendant (Appellant) was charged with First Degree Murder of his wife by stabbing. Proper counsel was appointed, and pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity were filed. Subsequently, the defendant's competence to stand trial was determined, but the record does not disclose whether this issue was suggested by the defense or injected by the court sua sponte.

The homicide occurred on August 5, 1966. On February 9, 1967, the defendant appeared with his appointed counsel, withdrew both pleas, waived a jury trial and entered a 'bargained' plea of guilty to second degree murder. At this point, the court undertook to advise the defendant of his rights.

The court advised the defendant that he had a right to a trial by jury and briefly explained what a jury was. When asked if he wanted a jury trial, the defendant replied that he did not. He was asked if he understood what a jury was, and he replied that he did. The trial judge then identified himself by name and asked the defendant if he was satisfied with him as judge, and the defendant replied that he was. He then acknowledged that he was present when two doctors testified that he was not of unsound mind and advised the court that he wanted to withdraw his plea of insanity. The court explained that life imprisonment was the only penalty for second degree murder and that upon a trial, either by jury or by the court, the lesser included offense of manslaughter and a penalty of two to twenty-one years imprisonment could be considered. The defendant acknowledged that he knew this and that neither the police, his attorney nor anybody else had made any promises or forced him to enter the guilty plea. Thereupon, the court asked the defendant if he committed the murder, and he replied that he did not know and that he did not remember the occurrence but that he wanted to plead guilty 'just to get it over with.'

Upon hearing the foregoing, the court denied the defendant's motion and ordered the case set for trial by jury. At this point, the defendant stated that he had committed the crime, but upon further interrogation by the court, he repeated that he had no memory of the crime, because he was drunk. He further stated that he believed that he had done it, because all of the facts pointed to him. The court explained that it did not want the defendant to plead guilty just to get it over with, because he was entitled to let a jury make the determination, but the defendant insisted that he wanted to plead guilty.

Following the above related encounter with the defendant, the court re-instated the guilty plea and proceeded to receive evidence, including eyewitness testimony, that was conclusive upon all requisites except intent and persuasively inferential upon that.

ISSUE I. The guilty plea was valid and binding upon the defendant if it was voluntarily and intelligently entered. The voluntariness of the plea is not disputed, but it is the defendant's contention that it was not intelligently made, inasmuch as it was made without his having actual knowledge of guilt.

We are guided in our determination of this issue by the following cases: Harshman v. State (1953), 232 Ind. 618, 115 N.E.2d 501; Brady v. United States (1970), 397 U.S. 742, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 25 L.Ed.2d 747; North Carolina v. Alford (1970), 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162; Kelly v. State (1972), Ind., 287 N.E.2d 872.

Harshman v. State (supra) held, in essence, that guilty pleas must be made by the accused voluntarily and knowingly '* * * intelligently, advisedly and understandingly, with full knowledge of his rights, and with the considered approval of the judge * * *,' in that a guilty plea from one who, in the same breath, protests his innocence or declares he actually does not know, is no plea at all. There are factual similarities between Harshman and the case at bar, but there are also vividly distinguishing features that render it inapplicable. Harshman was without counsel, and the record disclosed no evidence substantiating the guilty plea. Although there was language used in that opinion to the effect that a judge should never accept a guilty plea when the accused asserts that he does not know whether he committed the crime, the rule of the case does not go that far.

In Brady v. United States (supra), the Supreme Court of the United States held that Brady's guilty plea had been voluntary, although it may have been motivated in part by a desire to avoid a possible death sentence. This, notwithstanding that the death penalty provision had subsequently been held unconstitutional.

North Carolina v. Alford (supra) held that the facts that the defendant would not have pleaded guilty except for the opportunity to limit the possible penalty and that he stated that he did not commit the crime but was pleading guilty on advice of counsel, did not necessarily demonstrate that the plea was not the product of a free and rational choice, he having been represented by competent counsel and substantial evidence of guilt having been presented.

In Kelly v. State (supra) this Court held that a guilty plea entered as a result of plea bargaining was, nevertheless, valid, so long as it was voluntary and the defendant clearly understood the consequences of his act.

In view of the foregoing, we hold that he defendant's guilty plea was valid, notwithstanding his professed lack of knowledge. The case comes within the rule of Alford (supra), and we hold that a plea of guilty is not required to be motivated by a consciousness of guilt. What is required is that it be voluntary and that the decision be made intelligently, that is with knowledge of the available alternatives and their possible consequences. The ultimate choice belongs to the accused, and what he reasonably believes to be the possible or probable consequences under the available alternatives are legitimate considerations. These include the relative chances of acquittal or conviction of a more serious offense and the consequent greater penalty.

It is apparent upon the face of the record that while the defendant may not have remembered the criminal act, he believed himself to be guilty. He was aware of the evidence against him and believed that his chance for acquittal or conviction of a lesser offense was slight, if not nil. It is also apparent from the evidence introduced that his belief was well-founded and his choice prudent. Also, he had counsel which we presume to have been competent and effective. All of these elements weigh heavily...

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21 cases
  • Williams v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Indiana
    • April 16, 1975
    ...advised of his Boykin rights by the trial court itself or that the defendant was otherwise aware of such guaranties. Campbell v. State (1975), Ind., 321 N.E.2d 560, 563--64. We have repeatedly stressed the desirability of the trial court advising a defendant of his federal constitutional ri......
  • James v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Indiana
    • April 19, 1982
    ...that he be granted the right to withdraw his plea of guilty. Brimhall v. State, (1972) 258 Ind. 153, 279 N.E.2d 557; Campbell v. State, (1975) 262 Ind. 594, 321 N.E.2d 560. This record is deficient in this regard. For the reasons that this plea is tainted by the failure of the plea judge to......
  • Woods v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • September 29, 1981
    ...Court has declined to give Boykin retroactive application. Conley v. State, (1972) 259 Ind. 29, 284 N.E.2d 803; Campbell v. State, (1975) 262 Ind. 594, 321 N.E.2d 560. Analysis of pre-Boykin cases and cases occurring prior to Ind.Code 35-4.1-1-3 and Ind.Code 35-4.1-1-4 discloses that the tr......
  • Turner v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • March 26, 1991
    ...that Boykin v. Alabama (1969), 395 U.S. 238, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274, is not to be applied retroactively, see Campbell v. State (1975), 262 Ind. 594, 321 N.E.2d 560, and that the protections now afforded to minors are also unavailable for retroactive application. See Weaver v. State (......
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