Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jack's Fate

You remember Jack from my early postings I hope. His case went to trial last week (one reason I haven't written here for a while). The DA was incredulous that I wanted a jury trial on misdemeanor charges; more importantly the judge said that if we had a jury trial and lost he'd run the sentences on the different counts consecutively, that is one after the other, meaning Jack risked 2 years and 3 months in state prison by insisting on a jury trial (his constitutional right). That's called a trial tax and is contrary to the law.

Jack was afraid and decided to accept the slow plea which means that the state's evidence goes in by stipulation (agreement) and Jack is allowed to present his defense to the judge without objection. But when we start his case, the DA objects and the judge sustains his objections which means the pretrial promises weren't being kept. Eventually the judge finds Jack guilty but in a gesture of appreciation for not putting the state to the cost of a jury trial gives him credit for time already served which means Jack walked free. Except he's got to do a 52 week class on domestic violence as the price of leniency. Say, what???

Lessons learned: if there's any way your schedule can stand the strain, don't waive either time or a jury. Neither the judge nor the DA is prepared for that and it's a good way to keep them off balance. Problem is often your client folds under the pressure, pleads and then later has regrets he didn't go to trial. Guess who gets the blame for that?