Thursday, December 30, 2010

People v. Martin (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Dec. 30, 2010)

Martin wins in the California Supreme Court!  No, wait.  Martin loses in the California Supreme Court!  Oh.  Martin wins!

It's confusing.  Plus, it's not our favorite Martin (yours truly).  Rather, the defendant here is Louis Martin.  He pled guilty to resisting a police officer and, in return, got a dismissal of a domestic violence charge.  But the trial court imposed probation conditions related to the dismissed d.v. charge.  Martin appealed, claiming this violated the plea bargain.

The California Supreme Court initially agreed with Martin.  Holding that even in the probation context -- where trial courts ordinarily have broad discretion -- a trial court can't impose probation conditions that arise out of charges dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement unless the dismissed charge has a transactional relationship to the charge to which the defendant pled guilty.  So Martin wins on this point.

But he also loses.  Because, in this particular case, when the trial court said it was going to impose the domestic violence conditions, defendant objected, to which the trial court essentially said:  "Fine.  Then I'm going to reject the plea bargain."  At which point the defendant relented, and said he still wanted the plea and was willing to accept the conditions.

Well then.  Martin loses.  The trial court had the power to reject the plea.  You accepted the conditions, thereby waiving your right to object.

But, in a larger sense, Martin still wins.  Just not this Martin.  I'm talking now about the trial judge.  Judge John Martin.  Coincidentally enough.