Thursday, June 08, 2006

People v. Sandoval (Cal. Ct. App. - June 7, 2006)

Darn blogger. It's been out of action most of yesterday and today. Almost enough to make one move to typepad.

Anyway, enough venting. Here's an outstanding -- simply outstanding -- opinion by Justice Aaron.

For anyone who thinks that trial courts never improperly coerce guilty pleas, this one is a must-read. Sure, the co-defendant -- who allegedly (indeed, pretty clearly) told the defendant "Plead guilty or I'll kill you" -- did more than the trial court in this regard. But what Judge Lasater (down here in San Diego) did and said was no good as well; indeed, almost certainly led the co-defendant to make that threat.

Anyway, read this opinion. It highlights -- exceedingly graphically -- the problem of involving the trial court in plea negotiations, especially those involving package deals. Even when (and if) the trial judge has the best of intentions. Justice Aaron's opinon in this regard is really top shelf. I found myself agreeing with every word she said, including but not limited to those on the last page of the opinion, in which she reassigns the case to a different judge on remand.

Great job, Cynthia. An opinion entirely befitting of an honors Harvard Law School graduate (Class of 1984) and adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego. Hats off to you on this one.