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For an interesting dispute brewing in Collin County on whether a judge may ignore the State's right to a jury trial, read this article.

There is no question that the State has a right to a jury trial on guilt/innocence. The State may prefer the good judgment of 6 or 12 citizens to the elected judge in particular cases. Nothing wrong with that. The State also may prefer to have a jury decide a deadly weapon issue, which would be considered at the guilt/innocence stage of the trial.

Can you think of any other reasons?
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In the appropriate case, a Prosecutor can prevent a Defendant from the possibility of Deferred Probation by insisting on a jury trial.
 
Posts: 764 | Location: Dallas, Texas | Registered: November 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Deferred Adjudication. Yes, that is a good point. For that type of probation, only a judge can give it before a conviction occurs. If state refuses to consent to waiver of a jury, then jury's conviction removes a sentencing option for the judge.

I'm bothered by the judge's complete lack of respect for the right of the State to a jury trial. The judge has no business publicly commenting, particularly before trial, as to merits of a prosecutor's decision. It shows a clear bias in the case before anything has even happened. It also shows ignorance of the law (or perhaps willful indifference to enforcement of the law).

This issue has been settled by statute and case law for some time. For citations to those statutes and cases (which go back to 1984), see page 125 of The Perfect Plea. Perhaps TDCAA could send the judge a copy.

At what point is such a ruling subject to a grievance?
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Absent a good faith argument for disregarding the well-established law--whatever his personal views on the topic--the action would seem greivable. After all the judge is the one delaying justice, creating an unneccessary appeal, and undermining respect for the criminal justice system.

Good luck Collin County!
 
Posts: 444 | Location: Austin, Texas, USA | Registered: January 06, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I was glad to see that this prosecutor, Rolanter, whoever the heck he is, is standing up for the state's right to a jury trial. Sounds like a sharp guy with some backbone. Humorous to hear the judge -- a visiting judge -- of accusing the prosecutor of forum shopping. We have a serious case set for a jury trial, and suddenly, with a visting judge on the bench, the guy decides to skip the jury of his peers and go to the court?

That is exactly why the state's right to jury is so important...so the worst that can happen is that the public, through the jury, hears the case.

I too am concerned that the judge, by ignoring the settled law and trying to impose his will, has overstepped...
 
Posts: 273 | Registered: January 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In another jurisdiction where I've worked, we'd frequently see defense attorneys jump up and ask for a bench trial or open plea when a particular judge would be visiting. It didn't matter if the case was set for trial or simply in court for an annoucement or docket call. If judge ______ was visiting, everyone wanted an open plea.
 
Posts: 764 | Location: Dallas, Texas | Registered: November 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Any publication that includes the word "observer" in it's name gives me pause. More often than not the word, in that context, is synonymous with "gadfly." It certainly is not an indicator of journalistic integrity or legitimacy. I'm willing to bet that in this case the fine Mr. Rolanter would agree. (And the anonymous defense attorneys cited in the article would not.) My point is that this is probably an isolated incident and not, as the article implies, a larger problem of forum shopping by the big, bad State.
 
Posts: 200 | Registered: January 31, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Turns out the Legislature meant what it said when it said the State's consent is required in order to waive a jury trial.

Opinion issued
 
Posts: 2129 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Congratulations, Mr. Rolator, and thank you for protecting the law.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think that is Mr. Rolanter! Yes, awesome work John. It is hard to understand why an experienced judge would openly defy the well-established law.
 
Posts: 444 | Location: Austin, Texas, USA | Registered: January 06, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Posts: 90 | Registered: August 16, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ah, comboxes.

Everyone in the CJ system knows that defendants seek to be sentenced by whomever will go easiest on them. How is it wrong for a prosecutor to oppose that when necessary to protect a victim's right to justice? Or a community's? It may be less "efficient," but that's true of anything involving a jury. It's hardly a reason to do away with them.
 
Posts: 2403 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Of course defendants want to be sentenced by whomever they believe will give them the best sentence. But to imply that the prosecution was opposing the defendents choice of whether a judge or jury would sentence him is entirely incorrect. As most of you who regularly read this forum are aware, the defendant can choose to have the judge sentence him, and there is little if anything the prosecution can do about it. The prosecution in the Collin couty case may insist on a jury trial (and the associated expense) to determine guilt, but cannot insist on a jury to determine punishment. So, the question "How is it wrong for a prosecutor to oppose that (being sentenced by the judge) when necessary to protect a victim's right to justice?" can be answered "it is wrong for the state to oppose the defendant's choice of who will impose punishment because the law provides that such a choice is exclusively that of the defendant." So, what - exactly - is the purpose of the state in insisting on a jury trial for a defendant who desires to enter a plea of guilty and be sentenced by the judge? Just because the consent of the state to a waiver of jury trial is required, does not mean that withholding such consent in a case where the defendant desires to enter a guilty plea is a decision that can be justified on the basis of expense, allocation of resources, or any other measure. I agree that the decision of the court of appeals is legally correct, but believe that the DA's decision to insist on a jury trial in the first place, while an option that was legally available, was a poor one.
 
Posts: 325 | Location: Texas, USA | Registered: November 16, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Larry L:
As most of you who regularly read this forum are aware, the defendant can choose to have the judge sentence him, and there is little if anything the prosecution can do about it.


Did it occur to you that this visiting judge situation might've involved one of those "little" things?
 
Posts: 2403 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Of course it occurred to me that the visiting judge issue was relevant; however if the case was not set for a plea, or if the sentencing were to occur at a later date, presumably without the visiting judge, then the point remains - what ends were served by refusing to permit a defendant who desired to enter a guilty plea and have the court assess punishment to do so?
 
Posts: 325 | Location: Texas, USA | Registered: November 16, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I couldn't say--I was not there. Therefore, I'm not going to criticize a prosecutor's decision based on incomplete information, knowing first-hand how frustrating it is to have that happen to me when in that situation.
 
Posts: 2403 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There is a legal error you are committing. A defendant has no right to plead guilty to a jury then go to a judge for punishment.

A defendant has the right to elect punishment by judge or jury. But his plea affects his right to elect that punishment. The finder of fact at guilt does as well, depending on the plea. If you plead not guilty to a jury, you can elect punishment either by jury or the judge. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 37.08, Sec. 2(a). If you plead guilty to a jury, however, the jury must assess punishment. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 26.14.

The fact that prosecutors have repeatedly defended their right to a jury trial in this state should be a good indication that many of them believe there are reasons why, in particular cases, a jury should determine guilt in particular cases.
 
Posts: 90 | Registered: August 16, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by P.D. Ray:
In the appropriate case, a Prosecutor can prevent a Defendant from the possibility of Deferred Probation [sic] by insisting on a jury trial.


You mean like this case?

Former lawyer avoids jail time on drug, forgery allegations

Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010

No jail for ex-defense lawyer

A former Travis County criminal defense lawyer was sentenced Friday to two years deferred adjudication, a form of probation, for forging judges' signatures on court documents and possessing drugs.

Prosecutors had sought a year in jail for Bruce Garrison, who they argued at a sentencing hearing last year had disseminated information about clients cooperating with police, a practice lawyers said could have led to violent retribution.

One former drug kingpin testified at a sentencing hearing last year that he had smoked methamphetamine with Garrison and had made a deal with the then lawyer in 2006: In exchange for drugs, Garrison would give Noe Perez information on the arrests of Perez's associates and whether they were cooperating with police.

http://www.statesman.com/news/local/central-texas-digest-former-lawyer-avoids-jail-time-298796.html
 
Posts: 2403 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So now the defendant's lawyer says he'll take the case all the way to the US Supreme Court to establish that a person has a constitutional right NOT to have a jury trial?!?

That must be another one of those rights emanating from that penumbra thingy.

Roll Eyes

DMN article
 
Posts: 2403 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The article sure avoids much discussion of the obvious reason for refusing to waive a jury: the judge is not willing to consider the full range of punishment and wants to put the defendant on deferred adjudication.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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