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“Whether the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that trial counsel’s advice was a misrepresentation of the law that rendered Briggs’s plea involuntary when the advice was based on the controlling precedent that existed at the time counsel’s advice was given?”
Briggs was granted an out-of-time appeal on her pre-Missouri v. McNeely conviction for intoxication manslaughter. 569 U.S. 141 (2013). She filed a motion for new trial, claiming that her no-contest plea was involuntary because counsel should have anticipated McNeely and challenged the admissibility of her BAC based on the warrantless draw. The trial court denied her motion.
On appeal, Briggs argued that McNeely applies to her case because it did not create a new rule. The court of appeals held that McNeely applies because Briggs’ conviction is not final. The court then held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her motion for new trial because her plea was involuntary due to trial counsel’s misadvice.
The State claims that the court of appeals erred to evaluate Briggs’ plea in light of new law. Briggs was not misadvised, it argues, because controlling precedent held that a warrantless blood-draw under the implied consent statute was lawful. In support, the State points to Brady v. United States, 379 U.S. 742 (1970), and McMann v. Richardson. 379 U.S. 759 (1970). Brady held that counsel’s advice based on then-existing law is not subject to later attack simply because later-developed law made the State’s case weaker. McMann rejected a pre-Jackson v. Denno involuntary plea claim based on misadvice about the admissibly of a confession. When a defendant pleads guilty, “he does so under the law then existing; further, he assumes the risk [of] ordinary error in either his or his attorney’s assessment of the law and facts.”