SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The 9th Circuit gave "Diehard" director John McTiernan another chance to withdraw his 2006 guilty plea for lying to FBI agents about the wiretapping abilities of former celebrity snoop Anthony Pellicano.
The decision reverses U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer's ruling that McTiernan had "simply changed his mind" when faced with jail time over his statements to investigators.
Fischer sentenced McTiernan to four months in federal prison, a two-year supervised release and a $100,000 fine.
McTiernan claims he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea because his former attorney, John Carlton, never told him that he could suppress incriminating evidence seized by the government and purportedly used to elicit a guilty plea.
The FBI interviewed McTiernan in 2006 in connection with its investigation of Pellicano's use of illegal wiretapping. McTiernan claimed to not know anything about the former private investigator's wiretapping capabilities, but later admitted to having paid Pellicano $50,000 in 2000 to wiretap two people, including fellow producer Chuck Roven. At the time, McTiernan and Roven were in a legal dispute over the colossal box-office flop "Rollerball," which cost $70 million to make, but grossed only $25 million worldwide.
Several weeks after the interview, the government revealed its evidence of taped discussions between McTiernan and Pellicano about the wiretapping.
The 9th Circuit determined that McTiernan's attorney should have clearly explained all the options before allowing his client to enter a plea.
"Although Carlton may have advised McTiernan generally that there was no basis for a suppression motion," Judge Miner wrote, "his declaration lacks the clarity and precision that would enable us to conclude that McTiernan was properly and adequately advised."
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.