United States v. Johnson, No. 15-3498 (2d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Defendant plead guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, and marijuana, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court concluded that defendant's plea was not entered voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. The court explained that, in the plea hearing, the impression was given that there was a range of sentencing options: the judge spoke of "the potential sentences"; the prosecutor gave an account of multiple maximum and minimum sentences, discussed supervised release, and warned of the forfeiture of rights (including the right to hold public office); and the court and prosecutor discussed Sentencing Guidelines ranges and judicial discretion to weigh the facts and circumstances. Furthermore, the sentencing transcript suggested that defendant's counsel may not have understood the inexorable nature of the sentence either, and defendant's assertion that he would have gone to trial if he knew that a life sentence was foreordained was rendered plausible by the arresting fact that he derived absolutely no benefit or advantage from the plea. Accordingly, the court vacated the plea, directed that the case be reassigned, and remanded for further proceedings.