Eighth Circuit Affirms Trial Conviction Where Defendant’s Plea Stipulation Entered Into Evidence
Mar 23rd, 2014
In a cautionary tale, Raymond Cortez was convicted at trial based in part (or maybe wholly) on a factual stipulation contained in a written plea agreement he had entered into with the government, but which he later rejected. In the plea agreement, Cortez “agree[d] this stipulation [could] be used against [him] at any time in any proceeding should [he] violate or refuse to follow through on this plea agreement, regardless of whether the plea agreement has been accepted by the Court.” Did Cortez actually read this provision in the plea agreement? Was its full import explained to him (such as the rights under Fed.R.Evid. 410 that he would be giving up)? Did he enter into the agreement, and accept this provision, knowingly and voluntarily? Was the admission of the plea agreement at trial challenged at all? In affirming Cortez’ conviction in United States v. Cortez, issued on March 4, 2014 (unpublished), the Eighth Circuit did not address these issues, but did find the evidence sufficient based in part on the factual stipulation in Cortez’ plea agreement.