09 October 2019

Is it a Guilty Plea if the Plea Never Ends?

Judge: "You're pleading guilty to snipe hunting and before I can accept the plea I have to make sure that it is voluntarily made and that you understand what you're doing so I'm going to ask you some questions."

Mabel: "Okay."

Judge: "Before you pled guilty did your lawyer answer all your questions about what you were charged with, your options, and the consequences of a guilty plea?"

Mabel: "No."

Judge: "Ma'am, didn't you talk with your attorney about your case?"

Mabel: "Yes, but I didn't ask any questions."

Judge: "Ooookay. So you met with him. Did the two of you discuss the case?"

Mabel: "I guess you could say that."

Judge: "No, ma'am, I can't say anything. You're the one who has to answer the questions. Did you meet with your attorney prior to this hearing?"

Mabel: "Yes."

Judge: "Did your attorney explain to you your right to go to trial, have a jury, the possible results of trial and the consequences if you accept the plea agreement offered by the prosecution?"

Mabel: "I guess so."

Judge: "You can't just guess, ma'am. You have to give an answer."

Mabel: "Okay. Yeah"

Judge: "Yeah you'll answer the questions or yeah he explained things to you?"

Mabel: "Yeah, I'll answer the questions."

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It takes the judge what seems like hours to get the defendant through what should have been five minutes of questioning because he has to pin her down to get actual answers. I'm sitting there watching all this with semi-fascination from the prosecutor's table and the defense attorney has chosen an enthralling section of wall to give her full attention. Personally, I'm having an internal debate over whether Mabel is on the simple side and just trying to answer as best she can or if this lady is some sort of manipulative mad genius who has decided she's going to keep us in the courtroom until we all die from old age. The judge solved that quandary for all of us.

Judge: "Now, you've pled guilty to snipe hunting. Hunting snipe is illegal. So if you snipe hunt you break the law. Tell me what you did to get convicted of snipe hunting."

Mabel: "I did something wrong."

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