» Practice in General, Procedural Rules » Judge Shopping

Judge Shopping

Sometimes a judge will reject a plea because he or she feels it is too lenient. In fact, I can think of a few judges who do it frequently, and Arizona’s rules contain more than one provision that can be read to permit a change of judge in that situation. After a change of judge occurs, in most instances the plea will be changed and presented to a new judge. However, some judges are willing to accept the old plea without any changes at all.

The judges who require some change to the plea are usually adamant about the fact that using the same plea again constitutes “judge shopping” and isn’t allowed. I’ve yet to figure out whether there is in fact a rule against it in the context of a rejected plea. In fact, the part of the general rule that arguably prohibits changing judges to gain an advantage or avoid a disadvantage specifically states it does not apply to automatics changes of judge after a withdrawn plea.

I can think of a number of cases that use the term disapprovingly, but I know of no case that expressly forbids it. I even remember reading a death penalty case where the opinion plainly states that the defendant’s lawyer was judge shopping. Obviously, judge shopping may waste judicial resources and create tension between judges, but most of the time the judges who require a change to the plea are more than happy to accept a plea with a very minor change. Wouldn’t all of the problems with judge shopping still be present when that happens?

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