What Are the Fundamental Rights of An Accused Which May Be Waived Knowingly Voluntarily and Intelligently ?
In Boykin v. Alabama (395 US 238 ), it was determined that there are certain fundamental rights that every person accused of a crime has and which may only be waived knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently. So it is that the right to a jury trial, to testify in your own behalf, to cross-examine witnesses called to testify against you, to call your own witnesses, and to be prosecuted by Grand Jury indictment are fundamental rights subject to a knowing, voluntary and intelligent waiver.
In People v. Harris (61 NY2d 9 ), New York retreated from that holding somewhat by saying that there is no "catechism of rights" of which a defendant must be apprised when he enters a guilty plea.
But the Harris decision is essentially one that allows for considerable latitude in upholding guilty pleas as constitutionally acceptable.
It is a decision that supports the status quo and institutional bureaucracy.
It holds that all judgments and pleas should come to a final resting place and that there is a minimal standard of constitutionality to be applied in gauging whether a plea satisfies New York's requirements.
The New York Legislature has sanctioned a review of the constitutionality of predicate felony convictions. (See CPL 400.21 ; see Thomas F. Liotti and Peter B. Skelos, a Valid Strategy In Felony Cases Is to Challenge Prior Convictions, the Nassau Lawyer, Mar. 1988 at 1, 12.)
The Supreme Court of the United States has also informed us of the fairness that must apply in the plea bargaining process.
(See Santobello v. New York, 404 US 257 ; see Thomas F. Liotti, Twelve Rules for Negotiating the Plea, the Attorney of Nassau County, Oct. 1994 at 8; Thomas F. Liotti and H. Raymond Fasano, Federal Plea Agreements: a Contract Is a Contract, the Attorney of Nassau County, Oct. 1995 at 17, 20, 21, 22; Thomas F. Liotti and H. Raymond Fasano, the Nolo Contendere Plea: Pleading to the Charge While Saving Face, the Attorney of Nassau County, Dec. 1996 at 14; see also, Lawrence N. Gray, New York Criminal Practice, ch 10, Plea Negotiations [2d ed 1998]; see also, CPL 440.10 [which allows for the vacating of a conviction based upon certain enumerated factors].)