Lousy plea offers. More trials.

Jamison Koehler Criminal Procedure, D.C. Superior Court, Sentencing, Trial Advocacy

During the pandemic, criminal defense lawyers got spoiled with the favorable plea offers.  With dockets backing up, the government was desperate to resolve cases through non-trial dispositions.  One prosecutor compared it to a “fire sale.” Those times are over. I have noticed this.  My colleagues have noticed this.  And a long-time judge on the felony calendar who knows about these …

Checking the room for U.S. Marshalls

Jamison Koehler D.C. Superior Court, Sentencing

Judges love to keep us in suspense. Before announcing a verdict or a sentence, they like to give us a detailed description of the reasoning behind their decision.  They say “on the one hand” and “on the other” quite a bit.  This is because they want to document that they considered all the angles. This can be excruciating.  After all, …

Court-Appointed Lawyers Don’t Get Paid More for a Plea

Jamison Koehler Sentencing

I have worked with this particular court-appointed client now on a number of cases, and I guess he is beginning to feel more comfortable with me.  “Give it to me straight, Mr. Koehler,” he says to me over the phone.  “You get paid more money if I cop to a plea on this case, don’t you?”

You Can’t Plead Guilty Without Admitting Guilt

Jamison Koehler Criminal Procedure, Sentencing

I am watching a guilty plea from the gallery. The prosecutor reads out the alleged facts from the police report, and the defendant says, yes, that is what happened. The colloquy continues. The defendant then tells the judge that she is not actually guilty. The only reason she is taking the government’s deal is because her lawyer made her. And, …

No Strong-Arming of Defendants Into Accepting Pleas

Jamison Koehler Opinions/Cases, Sentencing

When the two defendants opted for trial, rejecting a deferred sentencing agreement that had been offered by the government, Judge Brian Holeman may have been doing them a favor when he warned them that they would face certain jail-time if convicted.  After all, that is exactly what happened. At the same time, as the D.C. Court of Appeals held yesterday …