State of Utah v. Medina

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State of Utah v. Medina



State of Utah,

Plaintiff and Appellee,


Richard Donato Medina,

Defendant and Appellant.


(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 971632-CA


(January 28, 1999)

1999 UT App 018


Fifth District, St. George Department

The Honorable G. Rand Beacham

Attorneys: Kenneth L. Combs, St. George, for Appellant

Jan Graham and Marian Decker, Salt Lake City, for Appellee


Before Judges Greenwood, Jackson, and Orme.

GREENWOOD, Associate Presiding Judge:

¶1 Defendant, Richard Donato Medina, appeals the trial court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas to aggravated sexual assault, rape, and aggravated kidnaping. We affirm.

¶2 We review the trial court's denial of defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty pleas for abuse of discretion. See State v. Penman, 964 P.2d 1157, 1160 (Utah Ct. App. 1998). Because a guilty plea is only valid if entered knowingly and voluntarily, see State v. Blair, 868 P.2d 802, 806 (Utah 1993), a trial court's determination that a defendant entered a valid guilty plea will not be disturbed on appeal absent clear error. See id. at 805.

¶3 A motion to withdraw a guilty plea will only be granted upon a showing of good cause, i.e., if the guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily. See State v. Munson, 351 Utah Adv. Rep. 31, 33 (Utah 1998). When a trial court strictly complies with Rule 11 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure, there is "a presumption the plea was entered voluntarily." State v. Thorup, 841 P.2d 746, 748 (Utah 1992) (citing State v. Gibbons, 740 P.2d 1309, 1312 (Utah 1987)). However, strict "compliance with Rule 11 does not foreclose the possibility the court abused its discretion in refusing defendant's motion if his plea was in fact involuntary" due to other circumstances. Id. Because defendant does not dispute that the trial court strictly complied with Rule 11, we must determine if other circumstances surrounding defendant's guilty pleas rendered them involuntary.

¶4 Defendant states that, having just learned of the molestation of his daughter, his pleas were motivated by his desire to go to prison in order to harm the man who molested his daughter. Therefore, defendant argues that his guilty pleas were involuntary because he was emotionally distraught at the time he entered his pleas. We disagree. The reasons which may have motivated defendant to plead guilty do not warrant reversal unless they rendered the pleas involuntary. Although the pressures defendant was experiencing out of concern for his daughter

might have been palpable to [him], they do not vitiate the voluntariness of his plea; it was still his choice to make. Indeed, the thorough exchange between the court and [defendant] during administration of the Rule 11 protocol . . ., clearly demonstrates that [defendant] entered his plea willingly and voluntarily at the time he made it.

United States v. Carr, 80 F.3d 413, 417 (10th Cir. 1996).

¶5 Defendant also argues his guilty pleas were involuntary because he entered them under the pressure of a time deadline. Again, we disagree. The record clearly shows that any pressure defendant reasonably felt as a result of the deadline was minimal, especially given the court's offer of additional time for defendant to consider his pleas. In addition, it is not uncommon for defendants in criminal proceedings to be given a deadline to accept a plea agreement. Finally, several courts have rejected the argument that time pressure in the context of a plea agreement renders a defendant's guilty plea involuntary. See, e.g., United States v. Langston, 818 F. Supp. 1199, 1205 (N.D. Ill. 1993) (holding defendant's "subjective impression of feeling rushed does not justify withdrawing his guilty plea"); State v. Blum, 560 N.W.2d 7, 9 (Iowa 1997) (finding "no merit in [defendant's] contention that time limit rendered his guilty plea involuntary"); Harden v. State, 277 S.E.2d 692, 693 (S.C. 1981) (rejecting defendant's claim that judge's reference to time pressure invalidated guilty plea). Therefore, the pressure defendant faced as a result of the time deadline did not render his guilty pleas involuntary.

¶6 Although defendant was upset about the molestation of his daughter and was faced with a time deadline for accepting the plea agreement, there is nothing in the record to suggest that these or any other circumstances undermined defendant's voluntary entry of three guilty pleas with full knowledge of the consequences. To the contrary, the trial court took special care to assure that defendant's pleas were knowing and voluntary. Therefore, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court's denial of defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty pleas.

¶7 Affirmed.


Pamela T. Greenwood,

Associate Presiding Judge




Norman H. Jackson, Judge


Gregory K. Orme, Judge