Guest explains from first-hand experience why Texas defendants need the protections in HB 1178, which would disallow prosecutors from solciting waivers of defendants' right to counsel. He writes:
HB 1178 [by Escobar] would ensure that no defendant pleads guilty without signing a waiver of his right to an attorney. It ends the practice of prosecutors plea bargaining with pro se defendants. Prosecutors are not excited about 1178. See the TDCAA discussion.Guest says cases with defense lawyers take longer because they actually be able to explain things like:
Their main complaints about 1178 are 1) It will take more time and 2) They feel insulted that anyone would think a Texas prosecutor is only out to convict, not to see that justice is done.
I was a DA and worked with a written waiver process that complies with the statute. It worked great. The judge asked each defendant if he wanted to hire a lawyer, fill out a pauper's oath, or talk to me and sign a waiver.
90% would sign the waiver. Out of those I could get 90% to plead guilty and accept my plea offer. If you are a lawyer you can always convince someone with less than a high school education to take a plea bargain. It's not hard.
Defendant's want the process to end so the do not have to keep coming back to court or go try and hire an attorney. The process of being a defendant is more stressful than probation for many.
Quick pleas are great for judicial economy, not for justice. Criminal charges carry serious consequences. From DWI to POM a guilty plea can affect your life forever. Anyone should be allowed to plead guilty if they make an informed decision. But the huge disparitiy in education and experience between a pro se defendant and a prosecutor creates a situation ripe for abuse. HB 1178 is a step in the right direction.
Why a stop is illegal;Hmmmm. Yeah, I can see why prosecutors wouldn't like that - that's pretty important stuff in a criminal prosecution!
Why the state's witness won't hold up at trial;
Why the state's plea offer may be bad;
Why the defendant needs to pay us before the next court date
This shouldn't be a radical notion, but as Guest notes Texas prosecutors strongly oppose it, which makes me think the practice must be more widespread than I thought. Despite DA's opposition, the bill passed both chambers of the Legislature and is already headed to the Governor. As always, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has more information on the topic, and you can also: