Davis v. State

Decision Date07 July 1976
Docket NumberNo. 114,114
Citation278 Md. 103,361 A.2d 113
PartiesLloyd Franklin DAVIS v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Arthur A. DeLano, Jr., Asst. Public Defender (Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender and Dennis M. Henderson, Asst. Public Defender, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

Albert Gallatin Warfield, III, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen. and Clarence W. Sharp, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.


DIGGES, Judge.

Generally speaking, this case involves the question of what information the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires state trial courts to obtain from defendants who plead guilty to criminal charges in order to ensure that the record reflects that they do so voluntarily and intelligently. More precisely, we are faced here with the issue of whether that provision of the Constitution, with special reference to its interpretation in Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 242-44, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 1711-12, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969), obliges state trial judges, on the record, to both specifically inform such defendants of their privilege against compulsory self-incrimination and obtain from them a proper waiver of this right before accepting a guilty plea. Because we think no individual reference to or waiver of that right is required, and because we think the record in this case establishes that the confession of guilt made by the petitioner, Lloyd Franklin Davis, Jr., was entered voluntarily and intelligently, we shall affirm his conviction.

The factual background of this case merits only brief recitation as it is undisputed and relatively simple. After being charged with nine counts of burglary, pleading not guilty and requesting a jury trial, the petitioner was scheduled to be tried in the Circuit Court for Allegany County (Naughton, J.) on April 22, 1974. On that day, following plea negotiations, counsel for Davis informed the court that the petitioner wished to enter pleas of guilty to three of the counts; whereupon the State's Attorney replied that if the pleas were accepted by the court the prosecution would stet the remaining six counts. Judge Naughton then engaged in the following colloquy with Davis:

'BY THE COURT: Stand please, Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis, in order to make certain that you are entering your pleas of guilty to these three counts willingly, freely, knowingly and with some degree of intelligence, it is necessary that I ask you a few questions and determine that fact.

Now would you please state your full name?

MR. DAVIS: Lloyd Franklin Davis, Jr.

BY THE COURT: Are you able to hear my questions?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: And are you now under the influence of any alcohol, drugs, narcotics or pills of any kind?

MR. DAVIS: No sir.

BY THE COURT: Are you represented by an attorney in this case, and if so is he present with you at this time?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: And what is his name?

MR. DAVIS: Mr. Robb.

BY THE COURT: Now have you been furnished with a copy of the information filed in this case?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: And have you read the information and discussed it with your attorney?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: Do you fully understand the three charges to which you have entered pleas of guilty?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: Now the charges that you've entered pleas of guilty to are burglary, three counts of burglary, each being a felony for which this Court could give you twenty years in prison on each charge, or a total of sixty years. Do you understand that, Mr. Davis?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: Now has anyone promised you that I would go easy on you if you entered pleas of guilty?

MR. DAVIS: No sir.

BY THE COURT: Any promises or threats been made to induce you to plead guilty?

MR. DAVIS: No sir.

BY THE COURT: You understand that if you plead not guilty that at the trial the State would have to produce witnesses against you in open court, and that you would have the right through your attorney to cross-examine all of them?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: Do you also understand if you plead not guilty you would not have to take the witness stand in your own defense unless you desired to do so, and if you did not take the stand the prosecuting attorney may not comment or make reference to your failure to testify?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: Do you understand that? Do you also understand that if you plead not guilty that you have the right to trial by a Jury or by the Court without a Jury, the choice would be yours? At the trial you would be presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.

BY THE COURT: Now I have recited to you certain constitutional rights which you have as a defendant in a criminal case. Do you understand that by pleading guilty you are in fact waiving these rights?

MR. DAVIS: Yes sir.' (Emphasis added.)

Having by this inquiry ascertained to his satisfaction that the petitioner was acting voluntarily and intelligently, Judge Naughton accepted the defendant's guilty plea; subsequently, the court sentenced Davis to prison for three consecutive five-year terms. On appeal these convictions were affirmed by a divided panel of the Court of Special Appeals. Davis v. State, 28 Md.App. 50, 343 A.2d 550 (1975). We granted certiorari.

Davis asserts-relying on Boykin v. Alabama, supra, and four decisions of the Court of Special Appeals which interpret that case to hold that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires state trial judges to specifically inform defendants of the essential elements of their privilege against compulsory self-incrimination before accepting their guilty pleas-that the information imparted to him 'was patently inadequate' to fulfill this requirement. See English v. State, 16 Md.App. 439, 298 A.2d 464, cert. granted, 268 Md. 748 (1973), cert. dismissed as improvidently granted, July 3, 1973; Williams v. State, 10 Md.App. 570, 271 A.2d 777 (1970), cert. denied, 261 Md. 730 (1971); McCall v. State, 9 Md.App. 191, 263 A.2d 19, cert. denied, 258 Md. 729 (1970); Silverberg v. Warden, 7 Md.App. 657, 256 A.2d 821 (1969). Specifically, and as he phrases it, the petitioner points out that he 'was not advised that if he elected to stand trial on a plea of not guilty he could not be compelled by the State to testify against himself,' and 'he was not apprised that if he elected to exercise his privilege against self-incrimination the trier of fact could draw no inference of guilt from his failure to testify,' but rather, he was only 'informed that if he pleaded not guilty he could refrain from testifying in his own defense and that the prosecutor could not comment on his failure to testify.' Consequently, Davis reasons that since 'the record failed to affirmatively show (he) had an intelligent understanding of this privilege and waived it in the constitutional sense,' his guilty plea cannot stand. On the other hand, the State asserts that the trial court is not required to adhere to any particular litany when interrogating such a defendant, but instead the only requirement is that the record demonstrate that the accused entered his confession of guilt voluntarily and intelligently. In order for us to resolve this controversy, it will perhaps be helpful if we briefly review the development of the prerequisites for the acceptance of guilty pleas.

This Court first embraced a standard for the acceptance of confessions of guilt in criminal causes in Lowe v. State, 111 Md. 1, 15, 73 A. 637, 638 (1909), wherein we quoted with approval the following passage from 19 Encyclopaedia of Pleading and Practice 437:

'(The trial court must see to it that the guilty plea) is made by a person of competent intelligence, freely and voluntarily, and with a full understanding of its nature and effect, and of the facts on which it is founded.' (Emphasis deleted.)

In Lowe our predecessors held that the judgment of conviction was improperly entered because the record did not reflect compliance with this standard. Lowe v. State, supra, 111 Md. at 15-20, 73 A. 637. In the cases which followed, however, this Court was more reluctant to make a finding on a barren record that a guilty plea had not been properly entered. Thus, when the facts before the Court of Appeals were insufficient for a determination of the issue, see State v. Darling, 130 Md. 251, 254, 100 A. 91 (1917); cf. State v. Stafford, 160 Md. 385, 390, 153 A. 77 (1931), or when the record merely disclosed that the accused was represented by counsel and was capable of participating in his own defense, the acceptance of the confession of guilt was sustained 'almost as a matter of course.' James v. State, 242 Md. 424, 428, 219 A.2d 17, 20 (1966); see Cooper v. State, 231 Md. 248, 253, 189 A.2d 620 (1963); Brown v. State, 223 Md. 401, 164 A.2d 722 (1960) (per curiam); Jones v. State, 221 Md. 141, 144, 156 A.2d 421 (1959). Those cases reflect the views of this Court until 1966, when in two cases, James v. State, supra, and Owens v. State, 243 Md. 719, 222 A.2d 838 (1966) (per curiam), we implied that the voluntary and intelligent nature of guilty pleas need be clearly established in the trial court before they are accepted. 1 Until now, we have had no occasion to address these issues since James and Owens.

Over this same span of time the courts of our sister states were confronted with the identical problem and developed an extensive body of law with respect to the requirements for the acceptance of guilty pleas. See In re Tahl, 1 Cal.3d 122, 126-27, 81 Cal.Rptr. 577, 580, 460 P.2d 449, 452 (1969), cert. denied, 398 U.S. 911, 90 S.Ct. 1708, 26 L.Ed.2d 72 (1970). By statute, court rule or case law, a number of these states required, in general, that before a trial court accepted a confession of guilt it had to be convinced that...

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