Hill v. Lockhart, No. 84-1103

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtREHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which STEVENS
PartiesWilliam Lloyd HILL, Petitioner, v. A.L. LOCKHART, Director, Arkansas Department of Correction
Docket NumberNo. 84-1103
Decision Date18 November 1985

474 U.S. 52
106 S.Ct. 366
88 L.Ed.2d 203
William Lloyd HILL, Petitioner,

v.

A.L. LOCKHART, Director, Arkansas Department of Correction.

No. 84-1103.
Argued Oct. 7, 1985.
Decided Nov. 18, 1985.
Syllabus

Pursuant to a plea-bargaining agreement, petitioner pleaded guilty in an Arkansas court to charges of first-degree murder and theft of property, and the court accepted the plea, sentencing him, in accordance with the State's recommendations, to concurrent sentences of 35 years for the murder and 10 years for the theft. Petitioner later filed a federal habeas corpus petition alleging, inter alia, that his guilty plea was involuntary by reason of ineffective assistance of counsel because his court-appointed attorney had misinformed him that if he pleaded guilty he would become eligible for parole after serving one-third of his prison sentence, whereas under Arkansas law petitioner, as a "second offender," was required to serve one-half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The District Court denied habeas relief without a hearing, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: The District Court did not err in declining to hold a hearing on petitioner's claim. Pp. 56-60.

(a) Where a defendant enters a guilty plea upon counsel's advice, the voluntariness of the plea depends on whether the advice was within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases. The two-part standard adopted in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674, for evaluating claims of ineffective assistance of counsel—requiring that the defendant show that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different applies to guilty plea challenges based on ineffective assistance of counsel. In order to satisfy the second, or "prejudice," requirement, the defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial. Pp. 56-60.

(b) In the present case it is unnecessary to determine whether there may be circumstances under which erroneous advice by counsel as to parole eligibility may be deemed constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel, because petitioner's allegations were insufficient to satisfy the "prejudice" requirement. He did not allege in his habeas petition that, had counsel correctly informed him about his parole eligibility date,

Page 53

he would have pleaded not guilty and insisted on going to trial. Nor did he allege any special circumstances that might support the conclusion that he placed particular emphasis on his parole eligibility in deciding whether to plead guilty. P. 60.

764 F.2d 1279 (CA8 1984), affirmed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which STEVENS, J., joined.

Jack T. Lassiter, Little Rock, Ark., for petitioner.

John Steven Clark, Brinkley, Ark., for respondent.

Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner William Lloyd Hill pleaded guilty in the Arkansas trial court to charges of first-degree murder and theft of property. More than two years later he sought federal habeas relief on the ground that his court-appointed attorney had failed to advise him that, as a second offender, he was required to serve one-half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas denied relief without a hearing, and the en banc Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed by an equally divided court. We granted certiorari because of the difference between the result reached in the present case and that reached by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Strader v. Garrison, 611 F.2d 61 (1979). 470 U.S. 1049, 105 S.Ct. 1745, 84 L.Ed.2d 811 (1985). We affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit because we conclude that petitioner failed to allege the kind of prejudice from the allegedly incompetent advice of counsel that would have entitled him to a hearing.

Under Arkansas law, the murder charge to which petitioner pleaded guilty carried a potential sentence of 5 to 50

Page 54

years or life in prison, along with a fine of up to $15,000. Ark.Stat.Ann. §§ 41-1502(3), 41-901(1)(a), 41-1101(1)(a) (1977). Petitioner's court-appointed attorney negotiated a plea agreement pursuant to which the State, in return for petitioner's plea of guilty to both the murder and theft charges, agreed to recommend that the trial judge impose concurrent prison sentences of 35 years for the murder and 10 years for the theft. Petitioner signed a written "plea statement" indicating that he understood the charges against him and the consequences of pleading guilty, that his plea had not been induced "by any force, threat, or promise" apart from the plea agreement itself, that he realized that the trial judge was not bound by the plea agreement and retained the sole "power of sentence," and that he had discussed the plea agreement with his attorney and was satisfied with his attorney's advice. The last two lines of the "plea statement," just above petitioner's signature, read: "I am aware of everything in this document. I fully understand what my rights are, and I voluntarily plead guilty because I am guilty as charged."

Petitioner appeared before the trial judge at the plea hearing, recounted the events that gave rise to the charges against him, affirmed that he had signed and understood the written "plea statement," reiterated that no "threats or promises" had been made to him other than the plea agreement itself, and entered a plea of guilty to both charges. The trial judge accepted the guilty plea and sentenced petitioner in accordance with the State's recommendations. The trial judge also granted petitioner credit for the time he had already served in prison, and told petitioner that "[y]ou will be required to serve at least one-third of your time before you are eligible for parole."

More than two years later petitioner filed a federal habeas corpus petition alleging, inter alia, that his guilty plea was involuntary by reason of ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney had misinformed him as to his parole eligi-

Page 55

bility date. According to petitioner, his attorney had told him that if he pleaded guilty he would become eligible for parole after serving one-third of his prison sentence. In fact, because petitioner previously had been convicted of a felony in Florida, he was classified under Arkansas law as a "second offender" and was required to serve one-half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Ark.Stat.Ann. § 43-2829 B(3) (1977). Petitioner asked the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to reduce his sentence to a term of years that would result in his becoming eligible for parole in conformance with his original expectations.

The District Court denied habeas relief without a hearing. The court noted that neither Arkansas nor federal law required that petitioner be informed of his parole eligibility date prior to pleading guilty, and concluded that, even if petitioner was misled by his attorney's advice, parole eligibility "is not such a consequence of [petitioner's] guilty plea that such misinformation renders his plea involuntary." The court also held that "even if an attorney's advice concerning such eligibility is not wholly accurate, such advice does not render that attorney's performance constitutionally inadequate."

A divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that parole eligibility is a collateral rather than a direct consequence of a guilty plea, of which a defendant need not be informed, and that the District Court did not err in declining to hold a hearing on petitioner's claims. 731 F.2d 568, 570-573 (1984). One judge dissented, arguing that a hearing should have been held to determine whether the attorney's alleged mistake in informing petitioner about "the applicable law" constituted ineffective assistance of counsel and warranted vacating the guilty plea. Id., at 573-574 (Heaney, J., dissenting). On rehearing, the en banc Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Dis-

Page 56

trict Court by an equally divided court. 764 F.2d 1279 (1985).

The longstanding test for determining the validity of a guilty plea is "whether the plea represents a voluntary and intelligent choice among the alternative courses of action open to the defendant." North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 31, 91 S.Ct. 160, 164, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970); see Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 242, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 1711, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969); Machibroda v. United States, 368 U.S. 487, 493, 82 S.Ct. 510,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
16640 practice notes
  • Williams v. United States, No. C13-4025-MWB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • August 13, 2014
    ...counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness."'" Lafler, 132 S. Ct. at 1384 (quoting Hill v. Lockart, 474 U.S. 52, 57 (1985), in turn quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688); Richter, 131 S. Ct. at 787 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688). To put it another way,......
  • Harris v. United States, No. 09-421C
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • November 21, 2011
    ...Consequently, plaintiff has not proven that "but for counsel's errors," plaintiff would not have chosen to resign. See Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 59 (1985). Therefore, the court finds that the advice counsel gave Mr. Harris was neither ineffective nor detrimental, and did not restrict p......
  • McWhorter v. Dunn, Case No. 4:13-CV-02150-RDP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • January 22, 2019
    ...The applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence. 18. Cf. Hill v. Lockart, 474 U.S. 52, 60 (1986) ("Petitioner did not allege in his habeas petition that, had counsel correctly informed him about his parole eligibility date, he......
  • Fautenberry v. Mitchell, No. 05-3568.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • January 25, 2008
    ...the non-disclosure of evidence, "he would not have [entered his plea] and would have insisted on going to trial." See Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 59, 106 S.Ct. 366, 88 L.Ed.2d 203 (1985). Alternatively, he can show that the findings and decision by the three-judge panel "would have been ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16586 cases
  • Williams v. United States, No. C13-4025-MWB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • August 13, 2014
    ...counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness."'" Lafler, 132 S. Ct. at 1384 (quoting Hill v. Lockart, 474 U.S. 52, 57 (1985), in turn quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688); Richter, 131 S. Ct. at 787 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688). To put it another way,......
  • Harris v. United States, No. 09-421C
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • November 21, 2011
    ...Consequently, plaintiff has not proven that "but for counsel's errors," plaintiff would not have chosen to resign. See Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 59 (1985). Therefore, the court finds that the advice counsel gave Mr. Harris was neither ineffective nor detrimental, and did not restrict p......
  • McWhorter v. Dunn, Case No. 4:13-CV-02150-RDP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • January 22, 2019
    ...The applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence. 18. Cf. Hill v. Lockart, 474 U.S. 52, 60 (1986) ("Petitioner did not allege in his habeas petition that, had counsel correctly informed him about his parole eligibility date, he......
  • Fautenberry v. Mitchell, No. 05-3568.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • January 25, 2008
    ...the non-disclosure of evidence, "he would not have [entered his plea] and would have insisted on going to trial." See Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 59, 106 S.Ct. 366, 88 L.Ed.2d 203 (1985). Alternatively, he can show that the findings and decision by the three-judge panel "would have been ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • GROUPS AND RIGHTS IN INSTITUTIONAL REFORM LITIGATION.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 97 Nbr. 2, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...U.S. 344, 348 (1990) (using this language to describe "[t]he essence" of the Sixth Amendment right under Gideon). (188) Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 58 (1985); see Luckey v. Harris, 860 F.2d 1012, 1017 (11th Cir. (189) See Levinson, supra note 176, at 889. (190) See Hurrell-Harring v. Sta......
  • BEYOND STRICKLAND PREJUDICE: WEAVER, BATSON, AND PROCEDURAL DEFAULT.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 170 Nbr. 4, March 2022
    • March 1, 2022
    ...for an attorney's failure to advise a client of the collateral deportation risks of a guilty plea, and, I would add, Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 60 (1985), where the Court defined Strickland prejudice in the guilty plea context by reference to the likelihood that the defendant would have......
  • Restructuring Public Defense After Padilla.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 74 Nbr. 1, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...See infra Part III.B. (196.) See infra notes 240-43 and accompanying text. (197.) 137 S. Ct. 1958, 1965 (2017) (quoting Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 59 (198.) Id. at 1967-68 (quoting the record). (199.) Mat 1967, 1969. (200.) Morales Diaz v. State, 896 N.W.2d 723, 732-34 (Iowa 2017) (reas......
  • Recent Legal Developments
    • United States
    • Criminal Justice Review Nbr. 43-2, June 2018
    • June 1, 2018
    ...(2017).Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975).Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989).Hall v. Florida, 572 U.S. --- (2014).Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52 (1985).Honeycutt v. United States, 581 U.S. --- (2017).Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S. --- (2015).Lee v. United States, 582 U.S. --- (2017......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT