Analysis Of The Npr Story High Court Expands Defendant 's Plea Bargain Rights
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This case study analysis focuses on one of two cases featured in the NPR story High Court Expands Defendant’s Plea Bargain Rights, March 2012.
In the case of Anthony Cooper, he was charged with assault with intent to murder. In March 2003 Mr. Cooper shot Kali Mundy four times. All four shots that hit Ms. Mundy were below the waist, she survived. Cooper was arrested and charged. The state of Michigan offered Cooper a plea bargain of 51-85 months if he pled guilty to Assault with Intent to Murder. On the advice of his lawyer, Cooper rejected the deal. His lawyer told him that Michigan law would not permit an attempted murder conviction for wounds that were below the waist. The lawyer was wrong. The lawyer was hoping that Cooper would receive a ‘better’ plea deal at a later date, believing that the court would offer a plea with Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm Less than Murder which would carry a sentence of 18-84 months. The lawyer advised Cooper to go to trial. Another plea was offered to Cooper on the first day of the trial, 126-210 months if he pled guilty to Assault with Intent to Murder. Again, this offer was rejected on the advice of his lawyer. The trial proceeded and Cooper was convicted of Assault with Intent to Murder and received a sentence of 185-360 months, more than three times the prison term that he was originally offered.
After being convicted, Cooper filed for post-conviction relief, stating that during the plea bargain stage his lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel. Cooper said that he would have accepted the first offer if his lawyer had not given him the advice (advice that was entirely inaccurate). The Michigan state trial court rejected his claims stating that he “made his own choic...
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...efendants. By using a plea agreement the court can expedite a case saving time, resources and money. If a defendant accepts a plea deal they can usually get a lighter sentence or charge and reduce or even avoid jail/prison time. Unfortunately, the court system would become incredibly bogged down if every defendant opted to go to trial. The downside of the plea bargain option is that many people take a plea out of desperation, without fully realizing the impact it may have on their life. Some innocent people even take pleas just to get out of jail, even though they committed no crime. Some defendants may be pressured by lawyers or court officials to take a plea just to expedite the case and get it closed. In these instances, the plea is being used just to clear cases and make the court/jurisdiction look good, instead of mutually benefiting the court and the defendant.