Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County Honorable Sandy
S. VAN AMBURG, JUDGE
Bearden appeals from the judgment of the circuit court
denying, without an evidentiary hearing, his motion for
post-conviction relief after a guilty plea, pursuant to Rule
24.035. This court would hold that plea counsel was
ineffective for failing to object to the group plea
procedure; thus we would reverse and remand for an
evidentiary hearing as to the voluntariness of Movant's
plea. However, given the general interest and importance of
the question, we transfer the cause to the Supreme Court of
Missouri pursuant to Rule 83.02
2013, Movant appeared before the plea court as one of six
unrelated defendants in ten separate cases disposed in a
"group plea" procedure. All defendants were
represented simultaneously by the same public defender. The
court began by explaining that the purpose of the group
procedure was to save time; to that end, the court would pose
questions to the group and "move straight down the
line" for their responses and, when necessary, would
speak to each defendant individually regarding his or her
particular case. Movant was fourth in line. The court asked
counsel and each defendant if anyone objected to the
procedure, and they all replied no.
with group questions, the court first conducted an inquiry
whether the defendants were satisfied with their
attorney's services. Twelve questions on this topic were
followed by consecutive responses of yes or no, unanimously.
Q: Has your attorney done all the things that you have
requested him to do for you in your case?
A1: Yes, sir.
A2: Yes, Your Honor.
A4: Yes, Your Honor.
A5: Yes, Your Honor.
A6: Yes, Your Honor.
court's subsequent inquiry, comprised of thirteen
questions as to the defendants' understanding of their
right to a jury trial and the consequences of the waiver of
that right, proceeded in the same fashion.
Q: Do you understand that you have a right to have a jury
determine your guilt or innocence of the charges against you