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Hutto v. Ross

Case Name
Hutto v. Ross
429 U.S. 28
Unanimous Decision
Authoring Judge
Per Curium
Judge(s) - Majority
Warren Burger, William Brennan, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, Lewis Powell, William Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens
Judge(s) - Dissent
Potter Stewart
U.S. Supreme Court
On Review From
8th Circuit
Decision Year
Sentencing Differential (Maximum Exposure)
21 years
Sentencing Differential (Minimum Offered or Received)
15 years, 5 to serve
Sentencing Differential Size
16 years


Defendant charged with embezzlement entered plea negotiations with the State. Defendant agreed to plead guilty in exchange for mitigated sentence. Though the agreement did not require a confession, defendant ignored his counsel’s advice and confessed to the crime while under oath and after having been read his Miranda rights. Defendant later withdrew from the plea bargain, retained new counsel, and demanded jury trial. The state trial court found his confession was voluntary, and the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed. Defendant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus to the District Court for the Western District of Arkansas that challenged the state’s finding of voluntariness. The United States Supreme Court determined the confession was voluntary and upheld the conviction. Defense counsel had made it clear that defendant did not have to confess for the terms of the plea bargain to be enforced. The confession was not involuntary because it was not the result of any “direct or implied promises” or coercion by the prosecutor.

Key Quote

“[C]ounsel made it clear to respondent that he could enforce the terms of the plea bargain whether or not he confessed. The confession thus does not appear to have been the result of ‘any direct or implied promises’ or any coercion on the part of the prosecution, and was not involuntary.” p.30