Mabry v. Johnson, 467 U.S. 352 (1984)

2012-07-26 13:13:43

James Mabry of Arkansas was convicted of burglary, assault, and murder. The Supreme Court set aside the murder charge, and plea bargain negotiations ensued. The prosecuting attorney offered a reduced charge of accessory to murder, a sentence recommendation of twenty-one years served concurrently with existing sentences. Mabry’s counsel informed him of the offer, which he accepted. When the prosecutor was informed of Mabry’s acceptance, he stated the plea bargain offer was an error and withdrewit, instead offering a sentence recommendation of a consecutive sentence of twentyone years. This offer was rejected. A mistrial was declared and Mabry eventually accepted the second offer.

Mabry filed a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the prosecutor could not withdraw the first plea offer without violating the prohibition on double jeopardy. The court dismissed the case. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the prosecution’s withdrawal of the initial plea after Mabry had accepted it was unfair. The Supreme Court upheld the court of appeals, holding that Mabry was fully aware of the consequence upon pleading guilty and that requiring Mabry to live with the consequences after the mistrial was unjust.


See also Guilty Plea; Plea Bargaining