TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
RE: Rule 11, N.D.R.Crim.P., Pleas
Form and style amendments to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure took effect Dec. 1, 2002. Attached are proposed amendments to N.D.R.Crim.P. 11 which are in the spirit of the federal form and style amendments. The primary purpose of the amendments is to make the rule easier to navigate and understand.
Rule 11 tracked the pre-revision of Fed.R.Crim.P. 11 very closely. Consequently, the revisions to Rule 11 track the federal revisions very closely. This has resulted in a reshuffling of the rule, with more detail in some parts and terser language in others.
New subdivisions (d) and (e) on withdrawal and finality of guilty pleas are added. These provisions are consistent with North Dakota law. See Froistad v. State, 641 N.W.2d 86 (N.D. 2002). These provisions essentially have been moved from Rule 32(d), with some updating and condensing done. This makes sense because the withdrawal of a guilty plea is generally only feasible during the prejudgment process.
A new subdivision (h) on harmless error is added. This subdivision was part of the federal rule before the amendments took effect, but it was not part of the North Dakota rule. The Supreme Court recognized in Abdi v. State, 2000 ND 64, fn. 1, 608 N.W.2d 292, that, even though Rule 11 did not have a "harmless error" provision, the concept of "harmless error" still applied to proceedings under Rule 11.
Amendments to the explanatory note are also proposed, both to explain the changes to the rule text and to eliminate what seem to be obsolete items. The proposed amendments to Rule 11 are attached.