Monday, October 18, 2010

Mama said knock you out

Montgomery County DA Brett Ligon is on the warpath against State District Judge Cara Wood because he  thinks the judge handed out a light sentence to a man who plead guilty to aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and evading charges.

The sentence of which Mr. Ligon complains? Twenty years for the assault, 15 years on the robbery and two years on the evading charge. Under the parole rules drawn up by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the defendant will be eligible for parole in about 9 1/2 years.

When a jury is asked to sentence a defendant who has been convicted, the jury is not told how much time a person is likely to do based on parole guidelines. In fact, it is none of the jury's concern. The fact that Judge Wood has a good idea how much time one is likely to do in prison likewise shouldn't play any role in her determination of what sentence to mete out. If Mr. Ligon is unhappy, take it up with the parole board or TDCJ.

The defendant in this case plead to the court without a recommendation. Why would an attorney advise his client to plead guilty in a case without knowing what the sentence would be? Most likely because he had reason to believe that the judge was going to hand down a lighter sentence than the prosecutor was offering. Maybe Mr. Ligon needs to take a look in the mirror if he needs someone to blame.

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