Tuesday, November 5, 2013

United States v. Broce case brief

United States v. Broce case brief summary
488 U.S. 563 (1989)

The government sought a writ of certiorari to review a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that allowed respondents, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy, to assert double jeopardy to collaterally attack their sentences resulting in the vacation of the judgments and sentences on one of their convictions.

Respondents entered guilty pleas and were convicted of two separate counts of conspiracy to rig bids and suppress competition on a highway project. Respondents appealed claiming that only one conspiracy existed and that double jeopardy principles required their convictions and sentences on the second count be set aside. The appeals court remanded for further proceedings and the district court vacated the judgments and sentences on the second indictment. The appeals court affirmed, and the government filed for a writ of certiorari.

  • The Supreme Court reversed explaining that a guilty plea and an ensuing conviction comprehended all of the factual and legal elements necessary to sustain a binding, final judgment of guilt and a lawful sentence. 
  • When a conviction on a guilty plea had become final and the offender sought to reopen the proceeding, the inquiry was ordinarily confined to whether the underlying plea was both counseled and voluntary. 
  • The Court determined that the underlying pleas were free and voluntary and made with an understanding of their consequences and of the nature of the charges thus precluding collateral attack.


The Court reversed the previous dismissal of the judgments and sentences entered against respondents on the second of two indictments for conspiracy. Respondents' double jeopardy challenge to the convictions and sentences was foreclosed by their guilty pleas and the judgments of conviction because the pleas were free and voluntary, made with an understanding of their consequences and of the nature of the charges.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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