I wouldn’t be writing about Mesa twice in row if I didn’t think it was all noteworthy. This time, though, I’m a little less cynical. I refuse to believe the judges at Mesa City Court are anywhere near as simple-minded and unfair as some of the prosecutors there claim.
To give you some background, if you are charged with misdemeanor DUI in Arizona and your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.15, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is one day with nine days suspended. If your BAC is between 0.15 and 0.20, it’s nine days with twenty-one days suspended.
Any misdemeanor DUI in Arizona could theoretically result in 180 days in jail, but I’ve never seen it happen, heard about it happening, or even realistically considered that any prosecutor could possibly be so silly as to request that it happen. Even then, what judge would agree?
In Mesa, although no prosecutor could be ask-for-180-days stupid, they nonetheless fail on a regular basis to grasp the concept of plea bargaining in a slightly less obtuse way. A recent situation highlighted the problem and also may, unfortunately, be indicative of pervasive untruthfulness from prosecutors in Mesa Municipal Court.
The client had a BAC of 0.144 and a completely normal, regular DUI in every conceivable sense. The prosecutors offered him two days of jail with eight suspended, however. That’s twice what his minimum would’ve been pleading to the court or losing at trial. Why wouldn’t he risk trial?
The prosecutor spewed the same tired rhetoric they always spew:
“You really think your guy isn’t getting at least two days losing at trial with a 0.144?”
“Have you lost a 0.144 in Mesa?”
Maybe I haven’t lost a 0.144 in Mesa, but my entire experience losing at trial in Mesa involves two cases where prosecutors threatened similarly ridiculous shit and I matched or beat the plea.
In one, an incident between co-workers where my client supposedly grabbed another convenience store clerk’s arm for a moment, they threatened hundreds in fines and lots of probation and community service. Losing at trial, we not only beat the probation and community service altogether, but ended up with a fraction of the fine. It more than justified my fee.
In the other, a misdemeanor drug DUI, the offer was the mandatory minimum. The threats from the various prosecutors who fumbled the case from one pretrial to another were all the same, though:
You really think your guy is getting the minimum losing at trial?
Have you lost a drug DUI case in Mesa?
Well buddies, I did. And he got what you offered before condescendingly mocking me for accurately predicting what would happen if he rejected your worthless plea offer.
I don’t believe the judges at Mesa Municipal Court impose a trial tax. They at least understand to some degree that justice is something more than handing down sentences harsh enough to brag about or to deprive future defendants of their right to trial. The legislature set the mandatory sentences for DUIs of every BAC, and I’ve never found judges to vary from those sentences except for with the worst imaginable facts. Even in Mesa. They couldn’t be that ignorant or that cruel.
That means that the only thing I can do when it comes to the prosecutors who repeat the same mantras about what the courts do is to wonder if they’re so grossly incompetent that they don’t actually know they’re lying, or if they’re just liars. Neither option is terribly encouraging.
If anyone has the real information, even if it’s anecdotal, about whether Mesa’s prosecutors are incompetent and don’t know what really happens, whether they’re liars and just lie about what happens, or whether the judges really are as petty, unfair, and unfit to take the bench as the prosecutors claim, please enlighten me.
I’d love to know either way.
Filed under: Courts, DUI, Prosecutors · Tags: 0.08, 0.15, 0.20, 30 days, BAC, court, DUI, extreme, incompetent, initial, jail, judges, liars, mesa, mesa municipal, one day, prosecutor, super extreme, suspended