Earlier today, Miranda and I discussed the wisdom of “open pleas”. What I mean by that is a plea entered into by a defendant, where the state makes no recommendation as to the sentence; in fact there is no agreed upon sentence as part of the deal. All the defendant agrees to do is to plead guilty and let the sentence be dictated by the judge. It may be 5 years; it may be 35.
My opinion is that these pleas are useless. They provide absolutely no benefit to the defendant and one might as well go to trial. I also have a hard time believing that the state will make no offer.
Miranda, on the other hand, does see some utility to these pleas. She believes that when the state is playing hardball, but you have horrible facts, you might just want to leave it to the judge to give the defendant some consideration for sparing the expense of trial.
What do you guys think? Would you ever plead a defendant to such a deal?