QUESTION: What would happen if a prosecutor made this statement during his opening?
"Ladies and Gentleman of the jury, this case is about punishment of the Defendant, because there is no question of his guilt. How do I know that? Well, I know that because he offered to plead guilty if I would offer him ten years in prison. However, during plea negotiations, I decided that 10 years was too low, and I want at least 40."
ANSWER: There would be an immediate mistrial. The prosecutor would most definitely be fired. The prosecutor would be grieved.
For those of you who don't practice criminal law, the plea negotiations that occur before any trial are absolutely forbidden from being brought up during a trial. The jury should absolutely have no knowledge of the plea bargain offers and counter-offers, because they aren't relevant.
That being said, I found it interesting when I read Brian Rogers' article on Sunday that noted that accused cop-killer Juan Leonardo Quintero's attorney, Danalynn Recer, had sent an e-mail to local media announcing that Quintero wanted to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.
I also found it to be quite suspect that this article ran on the eve of the trial over Houston Police Officer Rodney Johnson's murder.
So, my question (and I throw it open to debate) is: was Ms. Recer's e-mail to the media a blatant attempt to publicize the plea bargaining process to those (already selected) jurors who read the Chronicle?
If so, was there anything wrong with that (assuming there was no gag order)?
Discuss amongst yourselves.