Judges have the right to reject plea bargains. Being transparent about the approach a judge has typically would not generate criticism. For example, in parts of Minnesota there are judges who will treat a sentencing recommendation as just that: a recommendation by which they are not bound. Other judges have no objection to plea negotiations which fix the terms of a sentence. But a recent action by a Texas judge caught the attention of the media:
A Texas judge has come under criticism for announcing on Facebook that his court would no longer allow defendants charged with threatening or endangering police officers to negotiate plea deals with prosecutors.
District Judge Kerry Neves of Galveston County unveiled his policy in a Facebook post on July 18, in the wake of a pair of deadly multiple shootings targeting police in Dallas and Baton Rouge that left eight officers dead and 10 wounded.
“No plea bargain agreements for deferred adjudication or probation involving Assault on a Public Servant, Evading Arrest, Resisting Arrest or any other offense in which a member of Law Enforcement is threatened or placed in danger will be approved,” wrote the judge.
Without referring to any specific incident, he added: “I may only be one person, one Judge, but I will do what I can to stop the disrespect and aggressive behavior against our police officers.”
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