- United States
Mezzanatto was arrested and convicted for possession of
methamphetamine with intent to deliver.
Meeting with the prosecutor
He and his attorney met with the prosecutor to discuss
cooperation with the government.
You need to be truthful, or ELSE
The prosecutor told the defendant he would have to be completely
truthful and agree that any statements he made could be used to
impeach any contradictory statement he made at trial if a plea
could not be reached.
Discussion ended without plea agreement.
The prosecutor ended discussions because he believed the
defendant was lying.
Allowed to impeach
The prosecutor was allowed to impeach the defendant with a
statement he made to the contrary during the plea discussion.
Holding that the defendant could not lawfully waive FRE 410.
plea statement rules guarantee to fair procedure cannot be
Agree with basic premise
But enforcement of agreements like respondent's plainly will not
have that effect.
The admission of plea statements for impeachment purposes
enhances the truth-seeking function of trials and will result in
more accurate verdicts
A waiver is fundamentally inconsistent
waiver is fundamentally inconsistent with the Rules' goal of
encouraging voluntary settlement.
Because the prospect of waiver may make defendants "think twice"
before entering into any plea negotiation, respondent suggests
that enforcement of waiver agreements acts "as a brake, not as a
facilitator, to the plea-bargain process."
no basis for concluding that waiver will interfere
There is no basis for concluding that waiver will interfere with
the Rules' goal of encouraging plea bargaining.
The court below focused entirely on the defendant's incentives
and completely ignored the other essential party to the
transaction: the prosecutor.
Thus, although the availability of waiver may discourage some
defendants from negotiating, it is also true that prosecutors
may be unwilling to proceed without it.
Waivers invite prosecutorial overreaching and abuse
The waiver agreements should be forbidden because they invite
prosecutorial overreaching and abuse.
There is a "gross disparity" in the relative bargaining power of
the parties to a plea agreement and suggests that a waiver
agreement is "inherently unfair and coercive."
Because the prosecutor retains the discretion to "reward
defendants for their substantial assistance" under the
Sentencing Guidelines, respondent argues that defendants face an
"'incredible dilemma'" when they are asked to accept waiver as
the price of entering plea discussions.
This is no different than any difficult choice of a criminal
We have repeatedly held that the government "may encourage a
guilty plea by offering substantial benefits in return for the
"While confronting a defendant with the risk of more severe
punishment clearly may have a 'discouraging effect on the
defendant's assertion of his trial rights, the imposition of
these difficult choices [is] an inevitable' -- and permissible
-- 'attribute of any legitimate system which tolerates and
encourages the negotiation of pleas.
determining fraud in waiver agreements is a case by case
The absence of some affirmative indication that the agreement
was entered into unknowingly
or involuntarily, an agreement to waive the
exclusionary provisions of the plea-statement Rules is valid and
Concurrence Justice Ginsburg, Justice OConnor, Justice Breyer
Use of such statements would severely undermine a Df -
incentive to negotiate, and thereby inhibit plea bargaining.
Justice Souter, Justice Stevens
Legislative history showed Congress meant to create something
more than a person right shielding an individual from his