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PARKER V. NORTH CAROLINA, 397 U. S. 790 (1970)

U.S. Supreme Court

Parker v. North Carolina, 397 U.S. 790 (1970)

Parker v. North Carolina

No. 268

Argued November 17, 1969

Decided May 4, 1970

397 U.S. 790


Petitioner, a 15-year-old Negro, was arrested for burglary and rape, and later made a confession to police, which he advised his retained counsel had not been prompted by threats, promises, or fear. After being indicted for first-degree burglary (a capital offense in North Carolina), petitioner and his mother, after consulting counsel, authorized the entry of a guilty plea with the understanding that its acceptance would mandate a sentence of life imprisonment. That sentence was imposed after petitioner had assured the trial judge that his plea was freely made. Thereafter, petitioner sought post-conviction relief, claiming that his guilty plea was the product of a coerced confession and that the indictment was invalid because Negroes had been systematically excluded from the grand jury that returned the indictment. A State court, after hearing, denied post-conviction relief. The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that petitioner's plea of guilty was intelligent, and rejecting the claim, additionally asserted by petitioner, that his guilty plea was involuntary because North Carolina statutes at that time allowed a defendant to escape the possibility of a death penalty on a capital charge by pleading guilty to that charge. The court refused to consider petitioner's claim concerning the composition of the grand jury, since petitioner had failed to comply with a state law requiring that such a contention must, before entry of a guilty plea, be raised by a motion to quash the indictment.


1. On the basis of the record in this case, petitioner's guilty plea was voluntary. Pp. 397 U. S. 794-796.

(a) An otherwise valid plea is not involuntary because induced by a defendant's desire to limit the possible maximum penalty to less than that authorized if there is a jury trial. Brady v. United States, ante, p. 397 U. S. 742. Pp. 397 U. S. 794-795.

(b) Even if (despite abundant evidence to the contrary) petitioner's confession should have been found involuntary, the connection between his confession and the guilty plea, entered over a month later, had "become so attenuated as to dissipate the taint." Pp. 397 U. S. 795-796.

Page 397 U. S. 791

2. On the record in this case, petitioner's guilty plea was an intelligent plea not open to attack on the ground that his counsel misjudged the admissibility of petitioner's confession. McMann v. Richardson, ante, p. 397 U. S. 759. Pp. 397 U. S. 796-798.

3. North Carolina procedural law furnished an adequate basis for the refusal of the court below to consider petitioner's racial exclusion claim regarding the composition of the grand jury that indicted him. Pp. 397 U. S. 798-799.

2 N.C.App. 27, 12 S.E.2d 526, affirmed.

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