People v. William Monroe


AD1 order dated November 1, 2011, affirming denial of 440.10 motion. Decision below: 89 A.D.3d 429, 931 N.Y.S.2d 324. Smith, J., granted leave May 24, 2012.

ISSUE PRESENTED: Whether the holding of People v. Rowland, 8 N.Y.3d 342 (defendant is entitled to vacate his guilty plea if induced by the promise of concurrent time to an earlier imposed sentence that is later vacated), applies where the earlier sentence is vacated and reduced pursuant to he DLRA? (Assigned counsel for defendant: Claudia S. Trupp & Robert S. Dean, Center for Appellate Litigation, 74 Trinity Place, 11th Floor, NYC 10006.)

Issue before the Court:  Whether a criminal defendant who pleads guilty in expectation that his sentence will be concurrent with pre-existing drug sentences is entitled to withdraw his plea when those pre-existing drug sentences are reduced pursuant to a DLRA resentencing proceeding rather than being vacated by an appellate court.

Held:  Where a defendatn pleads guilty with an expectation of receiving concurrent time and that promise cannot be fulfilled, the plea must be vacated or the promise honored.  Here, the defendant was entitled to his plea back because the record made clear that it was premised on the judge's specific representation to him that it would extend his sentencing exposure only a year and a half past the sentences he was serving on his drug crimes.

CAL observes: The principle upheld by the Court of Appeals here has been long-established in previous cases such as People v. Roland and People v. Pichardo.  That the Court held it applicable in the context of DLRA resentencing will impact cases where defendants are serving concurrent time on other offenses.  The issue is most likely to arise, as it did here, in the context of conspiracy pleas where a defendant has pleaded guilty to individual drug cirmes as well as a conspiracy to sell.  As the DLRA statute does not apply to conspiracy counts, this decision offers a potential avenue of relief to defendants serving concurrent conspiracy sentences, although it is not limited to conpsiracy crimes.