Van Haele v. State, No. 03-138.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtLEHMAN, Justice.
Citation2004 WY 59,90 P.3d 708
PartiesMark Quixote VAN HAELE, Appellant(Defendant), v. The STATE of Wyoming, Appellee(Plaintiff).
Docket NumberNo. 03-138.
Decision Date25 May 2004

90 P.3d 708
2004 WY 59

Mark Quixote VAN HAELE, Appellant(Defendant),
v.
The STATE of Wyoming, Appellee(Plaintiff)

No. 03-138.

Supreme Court of Wyoming.

May 25, 2004.


90 P.3d 709
Representing Appellant: James P. Castberg, Sheridan, WY

90 P.3d 710
Representing Appellee: Patrick J. Crank, Attorney General; Paul S. Rehurek, Deputy Attorney General; Robin Sessions Cooley, Deputy Attorney General; and D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General

Before HILL, C.J., and GOLDEN, LEHMAN, KITE, and VOIGT, JJ.

LEHMAN, Justice.

[¶ 1] This is an appeal from a judgment finding appellant Mark Quixote Van Haele guilty of aggravated assault and battery upon the district court's acceptance of an unconditional plea of nolo contendere under a plea agreement. In addition, Van Haele seeks relief from the district court's refusal to allow him to withdraw his plea at the sentencing hearing. Van Haele further asserts that the district court abused its discretion when it denied his earlier motion for continuance of trial on the aggravated assault and battery charge in order to try it with a related charge also asserted against him. Upon our review, we affirm.

ISSUES

[¶ 2] The issues, as phrased by Van Haele, are as follows:

I. Was it arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of judicial discretion for the trial judge to deny appellant's motion to reschedule jury trial in order that both of the felony charges filed against the appellant arising out of the same incident could be tried at the same time?
II. Did the trial court commit reversible error in failing to comply with Rule 11(d) to insure that the appellant's change of plea to "nolo contendere" was voluntary and to require that a factual basis be established before entering judgment on the defendant's change of plea to "nolo contendere" as required by Rule 11(f) of the Wyoming Rules of Criminal Procedure?
III. Was it arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of judicial discretion for the trial judge to deny appellant's request to withdraw his plea of "nolo contendere" prior to entering conviction and passing sentence as provided by Rule 32(d) of the Wyoming Rules of Criminal Procedure?

FACTS

[¶ 3] On July 2, 2001, Van Haele was charged with one count of aggravated assault and battery stemming from Van Haele's alleged stabbing of another person in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-502(a)(ii) (Lexis-Nexis 2003).1 Initially Van Haele pled not guilty to this charge. A trial date was then set by the district court for January 16, 2002.

[¶ 4] On January 2, 2002, Van Haele was also charged with property destruction and defacement stemming from the same altercation as the aggravated assault and battery charge. Accordingly, Van Haele filed a motion to reschedule the trial in order that the two charges could be tried together. This motion was denied.

[¶ 5] On January 16, 2002, a jury trial commenced on the aggravated assault and battery charge. After two and a half days, during which Van Haele took the stand in his own defense, the trial concluded. Upon deliberation, the jury was unable to reach a verdict. On March 27, 2002, the State filed its Notice of Intent to Retry Case with respect to the aggravated assault and battery charge. The district court then set a new trial date of September 16, 2002, on both the aggravated assault and battery and property destruction and defacement charges. Upon motion, the district court then allowed Van Haele's attorney of record to withdraw from the case on August 14, 2002.

[¶ 6] On August 27, 2002, new counsel formally entered an appearance on Van Haele's

90 P.3d 711
behalf and soon thereafter filed a motion to vacate and reschedule the impending trial. This motion was granted, and the district court rescheduled the trial for February 10, 2003. A plea agreement was reached on February 3, 2003, and a change of plea hearing was held on February 4, 2003

[¶ 7] At this hearing the State explained that the parties had agreed that, in exchange for Van Haele's plea of nolo contendere to the charge of aggravated assault and battery, the State would dismiss the property destruction and defacement charge and that the State would recommend that Van Haele be sentenced to a term of one to three years, suspended in favor of eighteen months of supervised probation. After receiving the details of the plea agreement, the district court confirmed through Van Haele that the terms of the plea agreement were correctly expressed. Van Haele further indicated that he had ample opportunity to discuss the agreement with his counsel.

[¶ 8] The court then determined that Van Haele was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and advised Van Haele that the district court was not bound by the plea agreement, that a pre-sentence investigation report would be conducted and, thereafter, another hearing would be held so that the district court could determine if it would accept the plea. The district court further informed Van Haele that if it rejected the plea agreement, Van Haele could withdraw his plea and proceed to trial. However, if the district court accepted the plea agreement, a conviction would be entered, sentence would be imposed, and Van Haele would not be permitted to withdraw his plea. The court also explained to Van Haele some of the terms of supervised probation in the event the district court accepted the plea agreement.

[¶ 9] At that time Van Haele indicated that he still desired to change his plea and formally unconditionally pled nolo contendere to the charge of aggravated assault and battery. The district court further recognized that, because it had sat through the initial trial concerning the alleged facts related to this charge, there was an adequate factual basis to warrant acceptance of the plea.

[¶ 10] On March 27, 2003, a sentencing hearing was held, and the district court indicated that it would accept the plea agreement reached between the parties. Nevertheless, after having just confirmed his desire to proceed based upon his nolo contendere plea, Van Haele surprisingly stated that he wanted to withdraw his plea and proceed to trial. The district court denied Van Haele's request. Judgment and sentence was entered, consistent with the plea agreement, on June 3, 2003. This appeal followed.2

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶ 11] The procedure utilized to accept a guilty plea is reviewed by this court as a whole. Smith v. State, 871 P.2d 186, 187 (Wyo.1994). "Our inquiry determines if the district court sufficiently described the nature of the charges, including the possible penalties; informed the defendant of the right to representation; informed the defendant of the rights waived by a guilty plea; and obtained a factual basis for the plea." Mehring [v. State], 860 P.2d [1101] at 1106 [(Wyo. 1993)] (emphasis added). These procedural requirements are intended to assure that the individual facing the criminal charges is not misled into an unintentional waiver of substantial rights. Id.

McCarty v. State, 883 P.2d 367, 372 (Wyo. 1994). We look to the totality of the circumstances to determine the voluntariness of a plea. Mehring v. State, 860 P.2d 1101, 1108 (Wyo.1993).

Reyna v. State, 2001 WY 105, ¶ 9, 33 P.3d 1129, ¶ 9 (Wyo.2001).

[¶ 12] The standard of review for determining the voluntariness of a plea is de novo.

The United States Supreme Court's standard, by which the voluntariness of guilty pleas is measured, is as follows:
90 P.3d 712
"[A] plea of guilty entered by one fully aware of the direct consequences, including the actual value of any commitments made to him by the court, prosecutor, or his own counsel, must stand unless induced by threats (or promises to discontinue improper harassment), misrepresentation (including unfulfilled or unfulfillable promises), or perhaps by promises that are by their nature improper as having no proper relationship to the prosecutor's business (e.g.bribes)."
Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 755, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 1472, 25 L.Ed.2d 747 (1970) (quoting Shelton v. United States, 246 F.2d 571, 572 n. 2 (5th Cir.1957), rev'd on other grounds, 356 U.S. 26, 78 S.Ct. 563, 2 L.Ed.2d 579 (1958)).

Rude v. State, 851 P.2d 20, 23 (Wyo.1993). Furthermore, W.R.Cr.P. 11(d) requires that this same inquiry as to voluntariness must be made when a defendant pleads "nolo contendere."

[¶ 13] In Rude v. State, 851 P.2d 15, 18 (Wyo.1993), we noted that W.R.Cr.P. 15(f) (Rule 11 under the present rules) requires a court to satisfy itself that a factual basis exists for a guilty plea before accepting such plea. Moreover, we recognized that in their treatise on criminal procedure, LaFave and Israel outlined the following purposes of inquiry into the factual basis:

Most importantly, it should protect a defendant who is in the position of pleading voluntarily with an understanding of the nature of the charge but without realizing that his conduct does not actually fall within the charge.... In addition, the inquiry into the factual basis of the plea provides the court with a better assessment of defendant's competency and willingness to plead guilty and his understanding of the charges, increases the visibility of charge reduction practices, provides a more adequate record and thus minimizes the likelihood of the plea being successfully challenged later, and aids correctional agencies in the performance of their functions.

Wayne R. LaFave & Jerold H. Israel, Criminal Procedure 938 (2d ed.1992). These purposes are served if the record discloses a factual basis composed of the defendant's testimony and admissions and/or the State's presentation of evidence. The trial judge may properly draw inferences from the defendant's admissions or the evidence presented by the State to satisfy all elements of the crime to which the defendant is pleading guilty. Rude, at 18. However, this court has clarified that a factual basis is unnecessary upon acceptance of a nolo contendere plea, so long as the charging document, whether it...

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23 practice notes
  • Noel v. State, S-13-0059
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 25, 2013
    ...by virtue of a guilty plea, nor does he realistically argue that his guilty pleas were involuntary. See generally Van Haele v. State, 2004 WY 59, ¶ 27, 90 P.3d 708, 716 (Wyo. 2004); Reyna v. State, 2001 WY 105, ¶ 9, 33 P.3d 1129, 1132 (Wyo. 2001). Thus, this Court need not determine whether......
  • Noel v. State, No. S–13–0059.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 25, 2014
    ...by virtue of a guilty plea, nor does he realistically argue that his guilty pleas were involuntary. See generally Van Haele v. State, 2004 WY 59, ¶ 27, 90 P.3d 708, 716 (Wyo.2004); Reyna v. State, 2001 WY 105, ¶ 9, 33 P.3d 1129, 1132 (Wyo.2001). Thus, this Court need not determine whether t......
  • Mellott v. State, S-16-0295
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 28, 2019
    ...of the nature of the charge but without realizing that his conduct does not actually fall within the charge." Van Haele v. State , 2004 WY 59, ¶ 13, 90 P.3d 708, 712 (Wyo. 2004) (quoting Wayne R. LaFave & Jerold H. Israel, Criminal Procedure 938 (2d ed. 1992) ). Given this important prophyl......
  • Delgado v. State, S-20-0273, S-21-0208
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • May 17, 2022
    ...before his scheduled sentencing.[¶38] We have concluded similar delays weighed against allowing withdrawal of pleas. In Van Haele v. State, 2004 WY 59, ¶ 33, 90 P.3d 708, 717 (Wyo. 2004), the district court correctly found the defendant delayed in filing a motion to withdraw his plea by wai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Noel v. State, S-13-0059
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 25, 2013
    ...by virtue of a guilty plea, nor does he realistically argue that his guilty pleas were involuntary. See generally Van Haele v. State, 2004 WY 59, ¶ 27, 90 P.3d 708, 716 (Wyo. 2004); Reyna v. State, 2001 WY 105, ¶ 9, 33 P.3d 1129, 1132 (Wyo. 2001). Thus, this Court need not determine whether......
  • Noel v. State, No. S–13–0059.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 25, 2014
    ...by virtue of a guilty plea, nor does he realistically argue that his guilty pleas were involuntary. See generally Van Haele v. State, 2004 WY 59, ¶ 27, 90 P.3d 708, 716 (Wyo.2004); Reyna v. State, 2001 WY 105, ¶ 9, 33 P.3d 1129, 1132 (Wyo.2001). Thus, this Court need not determine whether t......
  • Mellott v. State, S-16-0295
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 28, 2019
    ...of the nature of the charge but without realizing that his conduct does not actually fall within the charge." Van Haele v. State , 2004 WY 59, ¶ 13, 90 P.3d 708, 712 (Wyo. 2004) (quoting Wayne R. LaFave & Jerold H. Israel, Criminal Procedure 938 (2d ed. 1992) ). Given this important prophyl......
  • Delgado v. State, S-20-0273, S-21-0208
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • May 17, 2022
    ...before his scheduled sentencing.[¶38] We have concluded similar delays weighed against allowing withdrawal of pleas. In Van Haele v. State, 2004 WY 59, ¶ 33, 90 P.3d 708, 717 (Wyo. 2004), the district court correctly found the defendant delayed in filing a motion to withdraw his plea by wai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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