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CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / LOS ANGELES

Director may get to withdraw plea

October 22, 2008|Victoria Kim

A Hollywood director who pleaded guilty in 2006 to lying to the FBI about his dealings with convicted private eye Anthony Pellicano may be entitled to withdraw his plea, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

"Die Hard" and "Predator" director John McTiernan had argued he would not have admitted to the charge, for which he was sentenced to four months in prison, if his attorney at the time had given him better legal advice.

Last year, a U.S. district court judge denied his motion to rescind his plea.

The action-movie director was one of seven people who pleaded guilty to charges connected to Pellicano's wiretapping and racketeering enterprise before the case went to trial.

Despite McTiernan's plea agreement, prosecutors asked for jail time for the director because he allegedly continued to lie and failed to fully cooperate in Pellicano's case, according to Tuesday's opinion by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prosecutors had argued that McTiernan had changed his mind about the plea only after finding out that they would ask that he be locked up.

Attorneys for McTiernan contended that his previous lawyer did not fully pursue his case or provide him with sufficient legal advice.

But a reasonable person in McTiernan's situation might have chosen not to plead guilty with different legal advice, Judge Roger J. Miner wrote in the opinion.

The case will now be sent back to U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, where a hearing will be held to determine whether McTiernan can withdraw his plea.

-- Victoria Kim

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