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United States v. Ballis – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Ballis, 28 F.3d 1399, 1402 (5th Cir. 1994), Ballis pled guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement with the government.

In the agreement, Ballis promised to be truthful about his involvement in the crime. Id. However, the government later discovered that Ballis breached this portion of the agreement and asked for permission to rescind. Id. at 1409.

The court found that Ballis gave untruthful testimony and withheld information. Id. The court further determined that Ballis had never intended to abide by the plea agreement. Id. Thus, the trial court ruled that the agreement had been void ab initio and allowed the government to rescind the plea agreement. Id.

On appeal, Ballis argued that rescission was not an available remedy because the plea agreement did not discuss the remedies available for breach. Id. at 1410.

The Fifth Circuit disagreed and explained that "the lack of comprehensive provisions specifying remedies in the case of breach does not render the agreement ambiguous; contracts typically presume compliance, and the remedies for breach are commonly supplied simply by reference to the applicable law of contracts." Id.