Judge May Reject Olson Guilty Plea
November 2, 2001 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Judge May Reject Olson Guilty Plea "A day after Sara Jane Olson pleaded guilty to attempted bombing charges and then denied her guilt outside the courtroom, a Los Angeles judge announced he will hold a hearing next week to decide whether to toss out the plea." Even if she's actually innocent, I can't help but think the former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive should've kept her mouth shut until after the sentencing at least. The LA Times isn't very sympathetic, either.
posted by phartizan (6 comments total)
The LA Times is out of line here. Defendants in California have a right to accept the benefits of a plea agreement without admitting guilt, under a case called People v West. This happens all the time, but usually the press just isn't paying attention. I can't believe the judge is reconsidering the plea, either. There's a lot of grandstanding going on here, but it's not all Sara Jane Olson.
posted by xeney at 4:26 PM on November 2, 2001

I didn't really follow the link, but, I'm just sayin'.

Yes, somebody's gotta be punished for this horrible crime. The Olsons have been living productive, relatively obscure lives for a number of years now. I understand that there are those among us who want vengeance, rather than justice. They will accuse me of mollycoddling malfeasants, lubricating libertines, and genitally gesticulating at genuine ingenoues. Not true, I say. We need to go after the real criminals, the "people" who are really responsible. Mary-Kate and Ashley were only toddlers when all those episodes of _Full House_ were made. If being an adorable toddler is a crime, only criminals will have adorable toddlers! FREE MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY NOW!

We still need to put Bob Saget's head on a pole, however.
posted by swell at 5:06 PM on November 2, 2001

swell is funny.
posted by Optamystic at 5:59 PM on November 2, 2001

I haven't looked it up yet, but I'd assume People v. West is probably similar to an Alford plea here, or a "No Contest" plea. That's not what Soliah pled, she pled guilty. Big difference.
posted by TiffanyRing at 6:32 PM on November 2, 2001

"A court is prohibited from imposing a sentence greater than that bargained for": People v. West explained in this brief; but the decision doesn't limit the court's absolute power to accept or reject pleas, apparently. So the judge can certainly boot it and put her back on the trial track.
posted by dhartung at 6:50 PM on November 2, 2001

Oh, yeah, the judge can always reject the plea. But they hardly ever do it because the defendant is claiming she's innocent. And I've never, ever seen a judge do that when the defendant isn't asking to withdraw the plea. (I handle a lot of appeals from guilty pleas; almost all of my clients say they're innocent in spite of their pleas.)

Tiffany, California isn't too sticky about the no contest vs guilty plea. I see lots of guilty pleas (rather than no contest pleas) that invoke People v. West. Trust me, this is a weird response by the judge; she's pissed him off. Lots of defendants plead guilty while proclaiming their innocence, and the usual response is to tell them, "Too bad, you entered your plea, now enjoy prison."
posted by xeney at 10:26 PM on November 2, 2001

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