People ex rel. Valle v. Bannan, 353

Decision Date23 September 1961
Docket NumberNo. 353,353
Citation110 N.W.2d 673,364 Mich. 471
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, ex rel. Gabriel A. VALLE, Petitioner, v. William H. BANNAN, Warden of the State Prison of Southern Michigan, Jackson, Michigan, Respondent. * Motion
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

Gabriel A. Valle in pro. per.

Paul L. Adams, Atty. Gen., for respondent.

Before the Entire Bench.

SMITH, Justice.

Petitioner Gabriel A. Valle (hereinafter referred to as the defendant), was estranged from his wife and children. His story upon arraignment (no trial was had) was that his wife had deserted their children and that 'the court in Gary took them away from me and stuck them in a foster home.' He did not know where they were and he wanted to talk with his wife. The trouble was that he did not know where she was, either, but he believed that her father, Mr. Carl Winklepleck, knew.

Defendant accordingly went to the father-in-law's home but instead of approaching him directly with his inquiry, he unhooked the window to the coal bin, entered, and waited for him. To the court's inquiry 'Did you have to break into the house to talk with your wife?' Defendant replied, 'Yes, sir. * * * Because she called the cops on me otherwise.' The court, at this point, refused to accept defendant's plea of guilty to the count of breaking and entering (previously tendered) and remanded defendant to the sheriff's coustody to await trial.

After a short recess the court again brought defendant before it and spoke to him as follows:

'Well now, Valle, the prosecuting attorney and your attorney have talked with me since you were here before me and they say that you want to still enter a plea of guilty and tell me what happened here.'

It then developed, upon additonal questioning by the court, that defendant, prior to his entry into the coal bin, had armed himself with a twenty-two rifle, a thirtyeight revolver, a knife, a blackjack, and handcuffs. The purpose of the arsenal was never made clear to the court, and we are not sure, upon the record, just how clear to the defendant himself. In answer to the court's question 'What were you going to do with all those things?', he first replied 'I was drinking the night before.' At another point he said that he was going 'to scare him.' At still another 'I was going to use them.' And at abnother 'I don't know. I don't know what I would have done with them.' At any rate, the use of weapons proved to be unnecessary. The father-in-law 'willingly' took defendant to his daughter for their talk. The conversation, however, was not lengthy. When opportunity offered itself, Mr. Winklepleck, as defendant put it, 'called the cops on me, so I only talked to her a couple of seconds.'

As a result of the above, defendant was arraigned on an information charging him with the offense of kidnapping (count I), to which was later added a second count, breaking and entering in the nighttime. With respect to count two, defendant, through his assigned attorney, advised the court on April 25 that he wished to plead guilty. The court, however, upon examination into the facts of the case, some of which are set out above, refused to accept the plea 'until [he] found out more about it.' Subsequently, on May 8, 1958, the defendant appeared before another judge of the same circuit, whereupon the following statement was made in open court by defendant's counsel:

'If the Court please, I was appinted to represent Gabriel Valle, the defendant herein. He was originally charged in the first information with kidnapping, and a second count has been added to the information, of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony in the premises.

'The defendant has to my knowledge no previous record but this is largely over a marital difficulty. His wife was away. He wanted to talk with her and entreat her to return to him, and he wanted to enlist the aid of his father-in-law. That is the home into which he broke into to talk to his father-in-law.

'He thought if he went and knocked on the door they wouldn't see him; and it is not the ordinary type of kidnapping case. It is largely over marital difficulty.

'I have talked with the prosecuting attorney who informs me that under the circumstances he would not be opposed to probation with a six months' jail term; and the defendant wishes to enter a plea of guilty to the second count.'

The defendant at this hearing thereafter again advised the court, through counsel, that he wished to plead guilty to the second count. After examination, as related in part above, the court accepted the guilty plea.

When sentence was imposed, however, it was not a jail term and probation, but imprisonment for a term of five to fifteen years. Defendant comes to us on a writ of habeas corpus. It is his argument that he was induced to enter his guilty plea to the second count in the information by reason of alleged promises as to his sentence, evidenced by the statement of his counsel in open court as hereinabove quoted. The prosecutor asserts in reply that the circuit judge 'minutely questioned the defendant thereafter as to his plea being free and voluntary and the facts and circumstances surrounding his plea as well as the facts and circumstances of the crimes for which the defendant was charged', and, in addition:

'That it is emphatically denied by the People through the Prosecutor's Office that any promise of sentence was ever made to the defendant or his attorney and that again this statement made by the defendant's attorney in open court was but self-serving, not referred to by the defendant as the basis for his plea, not corroborated in any respect or detail and was not a promise of any preferred treatment for the defendant but at the most was a statement made by the defendant's attorney that the prosecutor would not oppose that sentence should the Court see fit to grant it.'

Certain distinctions must be made in order that our words be not misconstrued in the dissimilar situations so often asserted to us. This is not the usual case of an asserted plea bargain, resting almost entirely upon the testimony of the defendant, often asserted long after the event, utterly lacking in reasonable corroboration. Here the crucial point is a statement made in open court, by an officer thereof. The defendant's counsel, he himself states, has 'talked with' the prosecutor, and with respect to punishment. We take judicial notice of the prevalence of the practice. One authority, in fact, points out that:

'Many pleas of guilty are obtained through the out-of-court action of the prosecuting attorney. 'The first and most favored way of securing a plea is to permit the defendant to plead guilty to a charge less serious than the one originally made in the indictment or information. The second is to induce a plea of guilty by the promise of a suspended sentence.'

'The extreme importance of the plea of guilty may be seen from the fact that in some districts 95 per cent of all convictions are on plea of guilty. The average throughout the country is around 85 per cent. 'The vast majority of all persons who are punished for serious criminal offenses have filed pleas of guilty.' It follows that the prosecuting attorney is, together with the...

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69 cases
  • Com. ex rel. Kerekes v. Maroney
    • United States
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    ... ... State, ... 189 A.2d 432 (Del.1963); People ex rel. Valle v ... Bannan, 364 Mich. 471, 110 N.W.2d 673 (1961); People ... ...
  • People v. Conte
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    ...statements. We concur with the court in People v. Pallister, 14 Mich.App. 139, 148, 165 N.W.2d 319 (1968), citing In re Valle, 364 Mich. 471, 477, 110 N.W.2d 673 (1961), that "[t]here is no room for a distinction between tacit and express If from the above inquiry we determine that no promi......
  • Mullreed v. Kropp
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • May 4, 1970
    ...not induced by fear, persuasion, misapprehension or ignorance, and made with an understanding of the consequences. In re Valle, 364 Mich. 471, 110 N.W.2d 673; People v. Merhige, supra, 212 Mich. 601, 180 N.W. 418. The rationale of this requirement is that a reasonable ascertainment of the t......
  • People v. Taylor
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • April 6, 1972
    ...and commencement by motion in the trial court might be proper.3 The course of review which the defendant followed in In re Valle, 364 Mich. 471, 110 N.W.2d 673 (1961) is not altogether clear. He filed a petition for habeas corpus with this Court, with an ancillary writ of certiorari to the ......
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