The Projo is Missing the Point on the Darigan Decision
Under our system, defendants have a right to plea-bargain before a trial with prosecutors, a judge has the power to approve or reject such deals, and to impose sentences, and the public has no right to a full-blown trial. That system generally works reasonably well to protect the innocent and secure justice.The editorial board’s implication is that the Attorney General negotiated a deal with the defense which Judge Darigan then approved. But if the 3 sides involved (prosecution, defense and judge) all agreed that this is what happened, there would be no controversy surrounding the Judge’s role.
The controversy exists because there is no agreement on a common version of events. The Attorney General insists that Judge Darigan accepted a plea and imposed sentences while negotiations were still ongoing between prosecution and defense, the defense says the final sentences were taken directly from a proposal made by the AG’s office and Judge Darigan has suggested that both the Attorney General and defense asked him to end the process and impose sentences.
So, depending on whose version of events the Projo editorial board had in mind when they wrote their editorial, they are either saying that a) they don’t see an accountability problem when a life-tenure judge overrules the prosecutorial judgment of an elected law enforcement official and negotiates a plea on his own or that b) they don’t believe the Attorney General’s description of events, and they do believe that Judge Darigan acted only after the AG gave some form of consent to the deal.