July 15, 2020 Ethics

Post-Conviction Relief after a Guilty Plea?

Peter A. Joy and Kevin C. McMunigal

Should a person who pled guilty to an offense later be allowed to try to set aside that conviction when making an actual innocence claim based on newly discovered evidence? Or should prior entry of a guilty plea automatically bar a convicted person from seeking such relief? Some state legislatures have enacted post-conviction relief statutes that take opposing positions on these questions. A growing number of state cases also divide in answering these questions. In this column, we review some of these statutes and cases. We also briefly canvas competing arguments advanced in support of each position.

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