Post-Halloween Parade of Horribles

Choose your poison:

In Houston, “Big Guy” lay dead in the street at the intersection of Travis and Anita for nearly a day on Monday. Passersby thought it curious enough to take pictures, but not curious enough to check on him or even call the authorities.

I’m with my old friend and adversary, HPD Homicide Sergeant Brian Harris, on this one: “If they just had used their cellphone to make a call instead of a picture, perhaps this man could still be alive today.”

What the hell is wrong with you people?

Meanwhile, in once-Great Britain, “Lawyers will be given financial incentives to encourage clients to plead guilty early under government reforms to legal aid but will lose money if cases go to trial.” (H/t @mrtiedt.)

It’s a scheme worthy of Texas’s worst, Senator Joan Huffman: stupid and mean. It’s a subornation of the criminal-defense bar. Lawyers are professionals, but they’re also humans, and if you give them a cash incentive to encourage their clients to waive trial, some of them will tend to do so.

Even if a particular lawyer won’t respond to this cash incentive, her indigent clients don’t know this, so every plea becomes suspect: Could she have done more? Should she have?

As an attack on the independence of the indigent-defense bar and due process, this is…revolutionary.

If the Declaration of Independence hadn’t already been written, this plan would fit in, as an indictment of the Crown, right between “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent” and “For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.”

Oh, wait. It’s already there:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury, from the original of the Declaration of Independence

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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9 Responses to Post-Halloween Parade of Horribles

  1. Anna Durbin says:

    Well, double yuck! My friend Rumpole would retire or something on the financial incentive to plead guilty. Sorry, that’s all I have on a Friday night.

  2. Mike Paar says:

    How long before one of the Texas Taliban members crafts a similar bill and it’s made law here? I’m sure you know that our politicians borrow from each other state-by-state and also across the seas. I found this out years ago when some idiotic law was passed then read where it had been on the books in another state for several years.

    And I was just thinking this morning that it should be law that a defendant couldn’t be subject to a harsher sentence after jurors find him guilty than what was offered at plea. I had been following an attorney’s case in Montgomery county where she elected for a trial and was found guilty yesterday by a jury: http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/courier/news/siegel-guilty-on-one-of-two-counts/article_6e38fab5-435d-5a45-9ae3-c8f6596e38e6.html

    Congrats on your victory at the appeals court. And I’m looking forward to you tearing the DEA a new one.

    • Mark Bennett says:

      Here in Texas the government has subtler ways of encouraging lawyers to sell their indigent clients short.

    • Adrian Sloan says:

      Re: Not being able to impose a longer sentence after trial than was offered beforehand.

      Sorry, that is in fact the most central item of plea negotiation. Negotiation only works if both sides get something they value, with guilty pleas the offender gets a shorter (often much shorter) sentence than they would otherwise and the government gets the case put aside without the expense and delay of trial.

      If you propose keeping negotiated pleas but somehow eliminate this particular item as something the government can offer what do you suggest as an alternative?

      • Mark Bennett says:

        If you pro­pose keep­ing nego­ti­ated pleas but some­how elim­i­nate this par­tic­u­lar item as some­thing the gov­ern­ment can offer what do you sug­gest as an alternative?

        A bribe for the lawyer.

      • Mike Paar says:

        What I have a problem with is offering a defendant time served but when he elects for trial because he’s factually innocent, then the prosecutor manages to convince a jury of his guilt and the defendant is sentenced to a life term. I refer to the Mineola child sex ring case where the supposedly guilty defendants were all allowed to plea with time served. They were all so guilty that the DA even sweetened the pot by not requiring any of them to register on the SOR. Everyone knows they were all innocent victims of a psychopathic prosecutor yet they feared the daily brutality and humiliation by inmates and guards so much that they pleaded to avoid the possibility of a life term: http://www.ketknbc.com/news/mineola-sex-ring-cases-end

        The plea bargains that were originally intended to speed the process and save resources has become a system to abuse defendants. Any trial lawyer with a years experience has seen the practice that police officers and prosecutors have now conspired to put in place where defendants are double or triple charged with the intent to have a felony used as a “hammer” to convince defendants to plead to the lesser charges. In the past defendants were often charged with a single crime but it’s becoming rare these days to see less than two or three charges stacked for the single criminal act. Hell, we’ve all become accustomed to seeing an assault on a peace officer tagging along on just about any other charge. And what was a misdemeanor shoplifting charge a decade ago will oftentimes now come with an organized criminal activity charge, too, especially when the defendant has a prior felony.

      • Of course it’s not about ‘me’, it’s about the incentive laiden advice provided as to why I should stop the felony jury trial during lunch recess on day one, in order for the ADA (aka: king of nolo contendere) to cross out Not Guilty and write underneath – nolo contendere.

        Your probation was revoked prior to trial just for being arrested. Despite a Guilty or Not verdict, you are still going to prison. Take the ten and get out and then worry about proving you are not guilty.

        Sadly, only he knows what ‘his’ incentive was to lie through his perfect teeth? The rotten sonovabicth did supply me with a worthless Letter of Recommendation – for / based on innocence – “… based on the facts in the case”. Whatever that means? Thanks.

  3. Nalora says:

    Reality on a little screen makes it all so unreal.

    Disassociation Disorder ala technology.

    I am becoming more of a Luddite everyday.

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