Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the alford plea...

Alford plea... As defined at Wikpedia.com

"In the law of the United States, an Alford plea is a plea in criminal court. In this plea, the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty. Upon receiving an Alford plea from a defendant, the court may immediately pronounce the defendant guilty and impose sentence as if the defendant had otherwise been convicted of the crime. However, in many states, such as Massachusetts, a plea which "admits sufficient facts" more typically results in the case being continued without a finding and later dismissed. (too bad this ain't Massachusetts, eh Deborah? You might have had to work for your money on this one if this were Massachusetts). It is the prospect of an ultimate dismissal of charges which engenders most pleas of this type.

The Alford plea differs slightly from the nolo contendere ("no contest") plea. An Alford plea is simply a form of a guilty plea, and, as with other guilty pleas, the judge must see there is some factual basis for the plea. Therefore, a defendant's prior conviction via an Alford plea can be considered in future trials; and it will count as a "strike" if a three strikes law applies. On the other hand, a nolo contendere plea is in no way an admission of guilt, and it cannot be introduced in future trials as evidence of incorrigibility. However, courts do not have to accept a plea of nolo contendere, and usually do not, except in certain nonviolent cases."

This plea originated in the United States Supreme Court case of North Carolina v. Alford (1970), 400 US 25. Under subsequent case law, an Alford plea generally has the same effect as a plea of guilty with respect to sentencing, and use of the conviction as an aggravating factor if the defendant is later convicted of another offense.

Some critics have spoken out against the nolo contendere and Alford pleas on the moral grounds that they undermine public confidence in the accuracy and fairness of the criminal justice system (these folks evidently have never been to Thurston County and seen their farce of a "criminal justice system"), sending some people to jail who are unrepentant or innocent (as in bpbil... his wife and his court appointed "attorney"... laughable at that... know this part very well); and that they dodge the "morality play" aspect of a criminal trial, in which upright civilization is vindicated and the community sees that the guilty are punished. Others see this as the major benefit of these pleas.

It's all a sham. The county keeps you in jail for 30-60-90 days on something you didn't do... they pile bills up against you for meds, food, etc., you start to feel the pressure... you have a piss poor attorney who's been assigned to "represent you" and doesn't talk to you or any of your witnesses for the first two thirds of your commitment, doubts what you have to say when she does eventually talk to your sorry ass and calls you everything but a liar when you claim innocence. Pretty much demanding you cop a guilty plea so she can "move on"... (thanks Deborah... damned good work... be proud!)

When you try to "flush" your (LOL) "attorney" the judge asks the "attorney" if she wishes to be flushed... and like the crappy turd she is she tells the judge she would like to remain on your case. The judge (in good faith... I'm assuming here that this judge is actually believing this attorney is "representing") denies the flush and the "attorney" (again, laughable) remains as the representative of your sorry, condemned, less than pillar of society ass.

...so you cop an Alford Plea... simply to get out of jail.

Damned good work Deborah Murphy, Thurston County, Washington State public "defender".

Be proud! Be damned proud! You'll certainly get your paycheck this month... but did you earn it?

I think not!

Skelly... thanks for the help... not!

But, I'm thinking you did try.

12 comments:

Cathy said...

D.H. I'm sorry it worked out this way but not surprised. It's every court system in this country. Not just Thurston County.

It is lazy, inept lawyers who have no work ethic who are to blame. They go to law school, pass the bar and then don't like what they find once they start working their chosen career path. They are cop outs who sell their clients down the river just so their lives can be less stressful.

They don't put a second thought into what it might mean in the future for you BIL or anyone else they do it too. There only concern is getting rid of one case and moving onto the next.

You know what I've learned? I've learned that the lawyer who says they are going to "help" you are the one's to be feared the most.

Something else I've learned...there isn't much you can do about it.

D. H. said...

Hi Cathy!

As usual you're right on the mark here! Especially when you say...

"They don't put a second thought into what it might mean in the future for you BIL or anyone else they do it too. There only concern is getting rid of one case and moving onto the next."

And you know what? They sure as hell don't like it when you don't agree with them and want to choose a different path.

I do think she overstepped her bounds though with the many disparaging remarks she made to bpbil regarding me. A woman that has never bothered to return my one phone call... never bothered to interview me... never bothered to meet with me to discuss the issues at hand.

Yup, she has quite the spine and (evidently) quite the attitude.

And sadly you're right, there isn't "much" that can be done about it but nevertheless, there are things that can be done.

Anonymous Law Student said...

"It is lazy, inept lawyers who have no work ethic who are to blame. They go to law school, pass the bar and then don't like what they find once they start working their chosen career path. They are cop outs who sell their clients down the river just so their lives can be less stressful."

It seems to me that you're blaming the wrong people. You say you don't like how little attention the public defenders get to pay to a specific case, but those offices are way underfunded. It's not the fault of the people working there that your elected representatives have chosen to deprive people of Justice by refusing to fund the system.

As for your comments about how stupid, lazy, and inept most public defenders are, that's just plain wrong. From what I've seen, they are often the most dedicated people out there, they receive little respect from their clients, the community, and there's never enough of them to fully represent their clients...but like I said, that's not their fault. That's the fault of the cities and counties across the nation that care little for other people's rights.

DG said...

I have to chuckle at anon law student. You my dear sir or she or it or whatever you are, are very naive.

D. H. said...

ALS- You're most likely well intended but should read the post and comments again... I don't recall the word "stupid" having ever been used in this blog relating to attorneys... one should avoid fabrication... that's a dangerous thing to do for a law student. Nope... also, you're overlooking the attitudes... the contempt for the "client" and his/her family shown by (at least) this particular "attorney". And as far as "underfunded", "case loads", etc... hell, I've been in law enforcement for over 30 yrs... let's talk funding, case loads, etc. We can all use those sorry assed excuses.

The problem is, that's all they are, EXCUSES... there's still a job that needs to get done... and preferably, done right.

D. H. said...

DG- How's things? I hope it's sorting out better for you.

Anonymous said...

Nice job DH, your first two paragraphs are directly plagiarized from Wikipedia. Don't you know how to write in your own words?

Dennis said...

"Anonymous"... I'm sharing an accurate definition with the readers of this blog rather than re-defining the term. There's nothing wrong with that.

I do believe I've written the remaining two thirds of the post primarily in my own words.

Further, I don't believe Wikpedia or any other source made any reference to Deborah Murphy and the fact that she might have to work for her money some day.

I also noticed you've returned to this post on multiple occasions to see if I'd responded to your comment. So, consider it responded to.

You can relax now. Your comment was read.

But, to avoid any future confusion I'll edit the post to ensure Wikpedia gets mentioned... after all, Wikpedia nothing more than a mix of specific and anonymous information from all kinds of sources.

Now relax and enjoy what's left of the "holidays". Surely you have some outdoor activities you can do in Somerville this time of year.

Either way, sincerely have a safe and happy new year

Anonymous said...

The Alford plea should be done away with. It is a travesty. Unsuspecting people who are innocent plead this thinking they will be able to go back home to their families, only to find out they will still be sentenced to prison. The justice system is so f-d up that inoccent people are scared to take their case to trial for fear the prosecuter will manipulate information to their advantage to make it look as though they have just cause to lock someone up. All they care about are conviction rates, not seeing that justice is served.

Kid Sister to A Comedian said...
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Kid Sister said...
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Anonymous said...

WHAT'S THE USE OF THE "ALFORD PLEA" IF YOU BASICALLY GET THE SAME SENTENCE AS A GUILTY PLEA. EVEN WITH EMPLOYERS. THEY'LL DENY YOU OF A JOB AS THE SAME AS IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY.