Showing posts from May, 2011

A Scathing Critique of the Role of Plea Bargaining in an Infamous Texas Case

The Texas Monthly has published a scathing critique of the role of plea bargaining in an infamous Texas case. The case, referred to locally as the "Mineola Swingers Club" case, involved shocking allegations of child sexual abuse. While the facts of the case may remain uncertain, the power of plea bargaining in the matter is clear. Well, it’s finally over, and if you didn’t look too closely, you’d think the good guys had won. Today at a pre-trial hearing in Smith County, six of the seven so-called Mineola Swingers Club defendants—accused of unbelievable acts of child sexual abuse—pled guilty to “injury to a child” (a felony) in exchange for their freedom. They’ve all been in jail or prison since 2007, though two had their sentences overturned. The remaining defendant—whose conviction is still intact—will remain in prison. I’ve rarely seen the wheels of justice grind up so many innocent people — and I’m not just talking about these seven defendants. I’m also talking about the

Update Regarding "Donations" in Plea Bargaining Cases

In a follow-up article regarding "donations" in plea bargaining cases, the Bellville News-Democrat is reporting that in March 2011 an individual was required to donate $22,500 to a police drug task force and Sheriff's task force as part of a plea bargain in a drug case. The defendant also received probation. The article went on to describe some of the responses to the revelations in the earlier article regarding the use of such "donations." Based on the BND's Sunday article, the Illinois State Bar Association issued this statement Monday concerning the practice of plea bargains that include payments to funds controlled by the office of the prosecutor or police in the case: "It's not our place to comment on the legality or ethics of the practice, but it does raise concerns that the public's perception of our justice system may be undermined," said Charles J. Northrup, general counsel to the bar association. Northrup is a frequent lecturer o

"Donations" in Plea Bargaining Cases Under Fire

The Belleville News-Democrat in Illinois posted an article this week discussing the growing practice of requiring defendants to pay "donations" to anti-crime funds in return for prosecutors dropping or reducing charges. The article has resulted in significant attention being focused on this issue and a statement being issued from the Illinois State Bar Association. The statement reads: "It is not our place to comment on the legality or ethics of the practice, but it does raise concerns that the public's perception of our justice system may be undermined." The newspaper article includes the following discussion of the "donation" practice. Defendants accused of rape, homicide, drug dealing and other serious crimes in five rural southern Illinois counties have paid thousands of dollars into "anti-crime" funds that benefit or are controlled by local prosecutors in return for probation or dismissal of charges. Professors at some of the nation

Moriarty on Plea Bargaining and the Defense Dilemma of Competent Representation

Jane Moriarty (Univ. of Akron School of Law) has posted a new article on SSRN entitled "'Waiving' Goodbye to Rights: Plea Bargaining and the Defense Dilemma of Competent Representation." The abstract is below. The proposed amendments to the ABA Criminal Justice Standards for Prosecutors and Defense Lawyers ("Proposed Standards") address a number of problematic issues related to the roles of both prosecutors and defense attorneys. This Symposium Article considers waiver of rights in the context of the Standards, focusing on guilty pleas and the so-called "preconditions" that prosecutors generally require before even entertaining the defendant’s proffer, colloquially termed "Queen for a Day" agreements It reviews the development in the law since 1993, the changes in the practice since that time, and the proposed changes to the Standards. The article focuses on the complex obligations of criminal defense attorneys to investigate their cases

Teens Sentenced in Phoebe Prince Bullying Case

Five teens facing criminal charges for bullying in connection with the 2010 suicide of Phoebe Prince have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to probation and community service. According to the Christian Science Monitor : Sean Mulveyhill and Kayla Narey were sentenced on Wednesday to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service with at-risk youth, in exchange for admitting criminal harassment. Sharon Velazquez and Ashley Longe received similar sentences Thursday in juvenile court, and Flannery Mullins was sentenced for a civil rights violation, also in juvenile court. The courts also prohibited them from telling their stories for profit during the probation period. For some of the teens, their records will be cleared if they successfully complete probation. The charges originally filed ranged from statutory rape to violations of Prince’s civil rights. Prince, a freshman at South Hadley High School who had recently moved from Ireland, dated Mr. Mulveyhill , and after they b