Rodney Class was arrested in May of 2013 when he violated federal law for possession of three firearms on the United States Capitol Grounds. Class pleaded guilty in the district court, but then later appealed his case to the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on constitutional grounds. The D.C. Circuit court held that he was guilty because of his guilty plea on the district court level and ruled that his previous plea barred him from appealing his guilt on constitutional grounds at the appellate level.
In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the decision of the D.C. Circuit. Justice Breyer wrote in the majority opinion that a guilty plea does not in fact bar a defendant from raising appeals based on constitutional grounds. Justice Alito authored a dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy, which criticized the majority for reaching a decision that has no clear basis in the Constitution.
Will Haun joins us to discuss the decision and its potential implications.
Will Haun, Attorney, Shearman & Sterling LLP
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