Class v. United States

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner. 

Brief filed: 05/19/2017


Class v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 16-424

Prior Decision

On petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Case No. 15-3015, on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:13-cr-00253-1

Question Presented

Whether a guilty plea inherently waives a defendant's right to challenge the constitutionality of his statute of conviction.


Amici seek the Court’s confirmation of the Menna-Blackledge default rule under which a defendant’s right to appellate review of a claim that a statute is unconstitutional is not waived sub silentio through an unconditional guilty plea. The Menna-Blackledge doctrine serves the public interest in testing the constitutionality of criminal statutes. Plea bargaining dominates the criminal justice system. Post-plea challenges to unconstitutional statutes are important. The government's proposed alternatives are no substitute for direct appeal. Rule 11(a)(2) does not provide a meaningful alternative to direct appeal. Collateral review is no substitute for direct appeal under Menna and Blackledge.

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Daniel N. Lerman and Kathleen Shen, Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP, Washington, DC; Ruthanne M. Deutsch and Hyland Hunt, Deutsch Hunt PLLC, Washington, DC; Jonathan Hacker, NACDL, Washington, DC.