1 minute read

Bordenkircher v. Hayes

Significance, Impact, Pro And Con: Plea Bargaining, Further Readings


Don Bordenkircher, Kentucky State Penitentiary Superintendent, et al.


Paul Lewis Hayes

Petitioner's Claim

Hayes claimed he had been denied his right to due process when, during plea bargaining, he was faced with either pleading guilty to a lesser charge or, if he entered a plea of "not guilty," facing prosecution under a Kentucky recidivist law that carried a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Robert L. Chenoweth

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

J. Vincent April II

Justices for the Court

Warren E. Burger, William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart (writing for the Court), Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr.


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

18 January 1978


The Supreme Court overturned the verdict of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and upheld the decisions of two lower courts that the Petitioner's right of due process had not been constitutionally violated during plea bargaining when, by electing to exercise his right to trial, he was prosecuted under more stringent sentencing requirements.

Related Cases

  • United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570 (1968).
  • North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711 (1969).
  • Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21 (1974).


Kapsch, Stefan J. "Plea Bargaining." The Guide to American Law: Everyone's Legal Encyclopedia. Minneapolis, MN: West, 1998.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980