460 U.S. 1098 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

MEACHUM v. LONGVAL , 460 U.S. 1098 (1983)

460 U.S. 1098

Lawrence A. MEACHUM et al.,
No. 82-1157

Supreme Court of the United States

April 18, 1983

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

The motion of respondent for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.

Page 460 U.S. 1098 , 1099

Justice REHNQUIST, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Justice O'CONNOR join, dissenting.

Respondent Norman Longval robbed a drug store in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Longval, who had a previous record for larcenies and had served time for armed robbery, stole the get-away car and carried a shotgun during the robbery.

One of Longval's codefendants, Richard Ellard, pleaded guilty. Ellard stated that he was drunk at the time and did not carry the gun. The sentencing judge noted that Ellard had not been in serious trouble before, and sentenced him to three years imprisonment and three years probation with a special term of probation requiring him to obtain treatment for alcoholism.

Longval stood trial for armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and unlawfully carrying a sawed-off shotgun, and was convicted. The trial judge sentenced Longval to 40-50 years in prison. The state appellate court later reduced this sentence to 30-40 years.

Longval sought a writ of error from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, claiming that the trial judge had improperly threatened him in an effort to coerce him into pleading guilty. The Supreme Judicial Court appointed a special master, who found that during the presentation of the prosecution's case-in-chief, the trial judge told Longval's defense attorney, in substance, that:

the evidence in this case as it is coming in is very serious-robbery of a drug store, taking drugs, use of a shot gun. I am wondering if you and the commonwealth have had any discussion regarding a plea [of guilty]. I strongly suggest that you ask your client to consider a plea, because, if the jury returns a verdict of guilty, I might be disposed to impose a substantial prison sentence. You know that I am capable of doing that because you know of the sentences in a previous trial. 693 F.2d 236, 237 (CA1 1982). [460 U.S. 1098 , 1100]

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