The Appellate Group

State v. Featherson

State v. Featherson, 2020 UT App 106 (Christiansen Forster, J.)


The defendant pleaded guilty, and during the sentencing hearing, the State breached the plea agreement. On appeal, the State conceded error, and the defendant’s appellate counsel asked for remand and resentencing. After the remand, before the resentencing hearing, the defendant moved to withdraw his guilty plea. The district court denied the motion and resentenced the defendant. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The defendant’s appellate counsel was not ineffective for not seeking plea withdrawal as a remedy for the State’s breach. Although a defendant has a constitutional right to a remedy (either plea withdrawal or resentencing) when the State breaches an agreement, the type of remedy is determined by the Plea Withdrawal Statute. Under the Plea Withdrawal Statute, because the defendant did not seek plea withdrawal before he was sentenced the first time, his appellate counsel was limited to seeking specific performance on remand.
  • The district court did not incorrectly apply the mandate rule. The court of appeals’s order remanding the case did not restart the period allowed for plea withdrawal.

Read the full court opinion