Consult your lawyer to avoid an obnoxious plea bargain

Censuring prosecutors in a case where the accused spent about a decade in jail

The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility recommended that Amy Weirich and Stephen Jones, the other prosecutor in the case, be censured for failing to disclose that important evidence to Noura’s lawyer.

The prosecutors opted to stand trial instead. Jones was not found guilty and the Board agreed to dismiss charges against Weirich in exchange for a private reprimand.

Noura Jackson was convicted of the murder of her own mother

Jennifer, a 39-year-old investment banker, died when she was attacked and stabbed 50 times in her bedroom in the morning hours of Sunday, June 5, 2005. In 2008, her only daughter, Noura Jackson, then 18, was found guilty and convicted by a court in Memphis, Tennessee in the US for the murder of her mother, Jennifer Jackson. Read the full case description here.

Curious case of conviction, discharge and obnoxious plea bargain

Initially, the jury pronounced her guilty and she was sentenced to a prison term of 20 years and 9 months. The Tennessee Supreme Court, however, unanimously overturned Noura’s conviction and one of the grounds for overturning the conviction was that the prosecution failed to disclose vital evidence to Noura’s lawyer. Besides, the prosecution had breeched the Constitution’s protection of the right of an accused person to remain silent and this means that a defendant’s decision not to testify should be respected.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, observed that no DNA evidence linked Noura to the crime scene and that the blood of unknown individuals was present in the victim’s bed. The murder weapon was never recovered.

Unfair act by the prosecutors

As reported by Monitor, even after her conviction was overturned, Noura was still charged with murder. A new prosecutor, given the case, offered her a deal; a reduced sentence if she pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She was told that she had enough credits for good behavior and for working in prison to be released the same day if she pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

On May 20, 2015, Noura was taken to a courtroom where she signed a plea bargain that her lawyers had negotiated. A few days after signing the plea bargain, Noura learned that, in fact, she did not have enough credits for immediate release; she had more than a year left to serve.

On Sunday August 7, 2016, Noura, aged 29, was released, after spending more than a decade in prison. The plea bargain allowed her to go home completely free, not on probation and not on parole, having completed her term.

 Seek expert legal advice before a plea bargain.

A plea bargain may save you unnecessary hardships or a potential conviction. However, you must ensure that you get the best possible plea bargain. Prosecuters may sometimes, as in the abovementioned case, induce you to enter an obnoxious plea bargain. Talk to an experienced lawyer like Joel Silberman to avoid such a risk.

For years, attorney Joel Silberman served as an assistant prosecutor with the Hudson County prosecutor’s office. During this time, Attorney Joel litigated hundreds of cases and appeared before the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, on multiple occasions.

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