Two Pleas

…being discussed in the blawgosphere in two different, very well written and thoughtful posts by two different lawyers:  Scott Greenfield and Norm Pattis.

Most of the time, defendants plead guilty to lesser charges even when cases are “defensible”, as CDL’s say.  Whatever that means.  It means something, actually.  CDL’s know.

The decision to charge in the first place is often determinative of some kind of conviction, in other words.  And often that conviction is simply the result of a risk reward analysis that almost always favors a plea.  The risk of a conviction at trial is simply too great.

In the case mentioned by Greenfield, it was the difference between going to trial and potentially losing – that is, 20 years in the slammer and the rest of your life, or what’s left of it, as a registered sex offender – and taking the plea, which meant 60 days in the slammer and a few restrictions.  Well, you see?  The risk of a criminal defendant losing at trial is always significant.  Even the most defensible case not only can be lost but often is lost.  Even charges that are absurd can stick, because the lynch mob has gathered and no one wants to get in the way of it.

Pattis?  He just did a damn good job.  His client was very lucky to have him.  There’s very little else I would note there, though I do wonder about blogging about your cases under your own name.  But no need to rehash that subject here.

Or the subject of whether justice is a myth, which Pattis also mentions.  It probably feels that way often enough, even for me.  But that’s only pathos, right Mark?


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