Legal Ethics

Did DA, When Formerly Serving as Judge, Inflate Trial Stats via 'Pick-and-Plea' Technique?

A New Orleans prosecutor has challenged local judges to double the number of jury trials they oversee each year, pointing out that he himself had a reputation as a trial machine during the 17 years he served as a jurist there.

However, some are contending, that’s because District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro used a then-common “pick-and-plea” technique, reports WVUE-TV Channel 8.

Cannizzaro absolutely denies that he used the technique, in which a jury is selected before a defendant takes a plea, so that his or her case counts as a trial. But Glen Woods, who worked as an assistant district attorney in his courtroom during the 1980s, says he did, the article reports.

“It’s quick to do,” explains Woods. “Let’s say you start at 9 a.m. By 12 p.m. you’ve picked a jury and the defendant has pled guilty. The jury gets their lunch, the judge gets his stats–everybody’s happy.”

Because court records were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, it would be difficult or impossible to determine exactly how the trials were handled.

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