Take Me Home - to Prison

We know that judges are supposed to protect us from criminals by putting them behind bars, but are they supposed to protect the prison from people who like living there on the taxpayers’ dime? 
 
Judge Patrick Robb of the 5th Judicial Circuit Court in St. Joseph, Mo., rejected a proposed plea after deciding to protect a defendant from his own desire for a long prison sentence. Defendant Roy Murphy tried to plead guilty to second-degree attempted robbery based on his botched holdup of a convenience store. It seems Murphy asked the convenience store clerk to “please” open the cash register, and then told her to “Please call the police” before fleeing the store on foot. 
 
His arrest shortly afterward came less than a year after he was released from prison based on an earlier conviction. While entering his plea, Murphy told Judge Robb that he was looking forward to the proposed seven-year sentence since he already had spent so much time in prison that he didn’t know how to live on the outside.
 
But there was a problem with the attempted robbery charge. The judge said the law required that threatening physical force be used, so he refused to convict Murphy.
 
“The one thing everybody agrees is he didn’t threaten anybody,” Judge Robb was quoted as saying at the hearing.
 
The judge explained that he was worried a conviction could be overturned on appeal based on a lack of evidence. At the same time, Judge Robb noted the incident was dangerous, and “Mr. Murphy’s criminal record is terrible.”
 
A solution emerged when the prosecutor agreed to file an amended felony charge of attempting to take property. The resulting four-year sentence will likely prevent costly appeals and prevent Murphy from serving three more years than he actually deserved. 
 
Judges are supposed to see that justice is done. And sometimes that means taking the side of the defendant, even if the defendant isn’t on his own side. 
 

Posted: 2/10/2014 1:25:00 PM by TCLE Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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