Improper Pressure by the Trial Judge

In State v. Pait, 81 N.C. App. 286, 290, 343 S.E.2d 573, 576 (1986), the court vacated the defendant's sentence due to improper pressure exerted by the trial judge. In that case, when defendant entered a plea of not guilty, the trial judge "became visibly agitated," "said in what appeared to be an angry voice that he was tired of 'frivolous pleas,'" and "directed counsel to confer with defendant and return with an 'honest plea.'" Pait, 81 N.C. App. at 287-88, 343 S.E.2d at 575. The Court held that, due to the trial judge's improper comments and the "unusual celerity with which the State and court moved," defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel. Pait, 81 N.C. App. at 290, 343 S.E.2d at 576.