Elizabeth Ziolkowski, age 60 at the time was arrested and charged in early October 1932 for the death on September 4th,1932 of her husband John Ziolkowski who was 35 years old at the time. At her arraignment, she plead not guilty to the charge of murder in the first degree. At the time she was confused about even what to plea, she even said so in open court according to some documents that Ina has uncovered from about 1950.
On January 10th, 1933, approximately 90 days later, her attorney later withdrew her not guilty plea and a Guilty plea was entered, and she was sentenced later the same day. It is worth noting that she never waived her right to a speedy trial, though she was bound over to the circuit court. Because she never waived her right to a speedy trial, the court was obligated to have a trial within four months after she was charged…this is the 6th amendment to the Constitution of the United States and is part of the Bill of Rights afforded to all Americans.
Here is an excerpt the conversation that took place in the morning of January 10th, 1933:
In the name of the People against Elizabeth Ziolkowski, the Respondent desires to withdraw the plea heretofore made in this case.
Charles O. Olivier, attorney for Respondent:
On behalf of the Respondent, I withdraw the plea of Not Guilty.
And ask to plead Guilty?
The Respondent by her consent, having withdrawn her plea of Not Guilty, heretofore entered, and asking leave to plead guilty, she having been previously arraigned on the information filed herein a plea of guilty is entered.
The Court will take a recess until One o’clock.
This very quick event that probably lasted just a few minutes would put Elizabeth Clark behind bars doing Hard Labor for the next 27 years of her life without a trial!!!!
Notice that neither her or her attorney ever say they are entering a plea of guilty nor is any of this acknowledge by her (the respondent).
Because of how the plea was entered, is reason enough for a re-trial. The judge must thoroughly question the defendant when such a plea is made, and this information must be transcribed on record at the time the plea is entered. Though the is precedence was not set until 1938 in the Supreme Court case Johnson vs. Zerbst. The Re-Trial should have been Granted in 1951…but it was denied.
“Voluntary and intelligent”
A defendant who enters a plea of guilty must do so, in the phraseology of a 1938 Supreme Court case, Johnson v. Zerbst, “knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently”. The burden is on the prosecution to prove that all waivers of the defendant’s rights complied with due process standards. Accordingly, in cases of all but the most minor offences, the court or the prosecution (depending upon local custom and the presiding judge’s preference) will engage in a plea colloquy wherein they ask the defendant a series of rote questions about the defendant’s knowledge of his rights and the voluntariness of the plea. Typically the hearing on the guilty plea is transcribed by a court reporter and the transcript is made a part of the permanent record of the case in order to preserve the conviction’s validity from being challenged at some future time.
“Yea” is the plea or was it just a noise, whatever it is, it is taken as assuming she is guilty and then not a question or anything from the judge, he simply enters the plea of Guilt and then recesses as soon as he speaks the words.
Her attorney is suppose to say:
I am entering a plea of Guilty on behalf of the Respondent or on behalf of my client.
And the Judge is suppose to say:
Mrs. Ziolkowski do you understand that by entering a Plea of Guilty to a charge of Murder in the first degree, you are waiving your right to a fair trial and will be sentenced following sentencing guidelines which in the state of Michigan for first degree murder is life in prison of hard labor?