Not-Stempler on Plea Deals

I had an interesting chit-chat this weekend with my lawyer-friend, Not-Stempler.

Remember him?

No, not  the GA source who had that terrible accident with the rhinoceros horn at the African Big Game Preserve. That's One-Eye, my super-sleuth. One-Eye's  asked me not to discuss his grievous injury in public- but you ought to see what he's got under that patch he wears.   


No, Not-Stempler is a GA employee; he IS my legal department.  You know, lawyers are (generally) a filthy bunch. They can be terrible bullies, using the power of their office to intimidate members of the public, sometimes sending them scary letters chock-full of legal mumbo-jumbo.  Then of course there are the good ones.  That's my Not-Stempler.  I adore him, but wish he'd stop draining the coffee pot in my virtual office.  Save some for me, Not-Stempler.

This weekend he and I were chatting about- what else?  The FBI's adventure in Hoboken.  I was complaining about how the investigation felt like the ultimate unsatisfying 'romantic' experience; as if every time your partner removes a piece of clothing there's another one underneath.  In other words, you never get IT. *wink*    Not-Stempler explained that means the FBI's found Hoboken to be a "target-rich" environment.  Okay...

But what about the scuttlebutt that one of our elected officials is negotiating a plea deal.  She gets to walk off into the sunset to reinvent herself?  Not exactly justice in my book, I bitched to the ever- patient, coffee addict Not-Stempler.

His response surprised me.  Just because this public official may have negotiated a plea deal doesn't mean she'll get it.   


Here's how it works, in the words of Not-Stempler:
The judiciary is separate and independent from the prosecutors office. The US attorney is part of the Executive branch. They enforce the laws the Congress or Legislative branch writes. The judiciary is independent of both and is there to ensure a fair and equitable enforcement of the law.

The prosecutor can make a deal with any defendant. Typically those deals are accepted by the federal court but it is not a rubber stamp.

There have been many instances where a federal judge or state judges believes the terms of the plea deal are not appropriate and has rejected them then either imposing their own sentence and or sending the prosecutor and defendants back to the drawing board.

Further, any defendant that is party of a plea deal has to appear in court and acknowledge guilt.  They must affirmatively state to the judge what actions constituted the crime to which they're pleading and accept full responsibility for the sentence that will be imposed. If the defendant at the hearing equivocates or refuses to absolutely accept full and unequivocal guilt the judge will reject the plea deal.

Once a plea deal has been announced any member of the public that's been affected by the criminal activity of the defendant can write to the judge and the prosecutor setting forth the impact that the crimes have had, as well as concern about the appropriateness of any plea deal or sentence.
Wow. Did you know that?

I didn't.

To recap, a federal/state judge(s) can deny a plea and sentence at his/her/their discretion.  And victims can weigh in with  'victim impact' statements- to the judge(s). 

Further, and my friend Not-Stempler wouldn't go there, how might politics play into a judge's decision to accept a defendant's plea deal.  Let's say the defendant is a Democratic donor/ fundraiser perhaps a friend of a Democratic U.S. Senator... and the judge is a staunch Republican, appointed by a Republican...

I know.  That stuff doesn't matter...  or does it?

All I can say is, no one should feel too smug they've 'bought' their way out of a jail sentence.  Meaning the best legal  representation money can buy to negotiate with the prosecutor.

Because it's up to the judge.


  1. your posts continue to give us hope, thanks!!

  2. I can only imagine the intake of Klonopin in certain Hoboken households these days.... No "Laugh-In" matter!

    Thanks, GA. Love Sammy Davis, Cuban heels, channelling Pigmeat Markham!

  3. I have to assume that if, say, Beth were to get a plea deal, Ricky would be aware of the above and would make sure that Beth is. I'd also assume that if she's making a deal, she's represented by someone well versed in federal criminal defense, and that her lawyer made her aware of the above. And finally, in the 3 years that I worked in federal criminal defense, I saw the judge reject a deal a few times. Not only that, I've seen judges routinely read the PSR (presentencing report) thank the preparer & then do whatever he/she wants based on victim impact statements &/or testimony.


  4. Thanks, Mel. Not-Stempler's told me he's seen pleas rejected, too.

    Wouldn't victim impact statements have to corrolate with whatever the charges he/she pled to were? If (for example) Mason pled to crime A, any statement would have to refer to the impact of A. So one might hope if she were charged (hypothetically) it would be with something like email tampering vs. tax evasion (victimless crime).

    What say you?

  5. GA- Yes, as far as I recall, victim impact statements have to relate to the effect of the crime on that victim. I do recall seeing people testify / write letters to the court that were very tangential to the crime (not that the AUSA would ever stretch the bounds to get a harsher sentence that could NEVER happen). LOL

    I used to hate the US Attorney's office. :)


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