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United States v. Broce

Case Name
United States v. Broce
488 U.S. 563
Unanimous Decision
Authoring Judge
Anthony Kennedy
Judge(s) - Majority
William Rehnquist, Byron White, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy
Judge(s) - Concur
John Paul Stevens
Judge(s) - Dissent
William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun
U.S. Supreme Court
On Review From
10th Circuit
Decision Year


Defendants pleaded guilty to two separate counts of conspiracy to rig bids. Defendants later appealed, asserting that only one conspiracy existed and raising the defense of double jeopardy to set aside the second sentence. The Court upheld both convictions. Defendants had a right to challenge the charges by going to trial. However, through their voluntary guilty pleas and subsequent convictions, defendants lost this right and foreclosed later collateral challenges by comprehending all the factual and legal elements necessary to sustain final and binding judgments against them. Though defendants argue that they cannot be held to have waived the defense because their attorney never informed them about potential double jeopardy issues, this omission may only sustain a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel. Here, waiver derives from admissions of guilt made upon entry of a voluntary plea. Defendants pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy based upon two separate agreements that embrace separate objectives at different times. No exceptions applied. Thus, defendants could not set aside their pleas.

Key Quote

“When the judgment of conviction upon a guilty plea has become final and the offender seeks to reopen the proceeding, the inquiry is ordinarily confined to whether the underlying plea was both counseled and voluntary. If the answer is in the affirmative then the conviction and the plea, as a general rule, foreclose the collateral attack.” p.569