Judge Assails Last Minute Plea Deals, Noting ‘Not How You Do Business’

By Katherine Longjohn

RIVERSIDE, CA – The felony settlement conference for Brandon Thomas, charged with the discharge of a firearm in a negligent manner, was supposed to take place here Friday in Riverside County Superior Court, but the prosecution presented the offer too late, just minutes before court.

At the start of the conference, the judge was annoyed that this matter, which was supposed to be handled that day, was now being pushed back.

“What’s the good cause to kick the can for two months?” asked the judge.

Deputy District Attorney James Applegate, filling in for the DDA assigned this case, explained the prosecution just gave the defense the offer the same day as the settlement conference.

DDA Applegate added the reason to move this conference to April specifically is due to the busy schedules of both the DDA assigned this case and himself. April 7, almost two months from Friday, is the first date that they are available.

Frustrated, the judge pressed DDA Applegate, “Why was the offer just tendered today?”

While DDA Applegate didn’t know, the judge continued by saying that he has “seen this on some of these cases where they were supposed to wrap up but then the offer’s made for the first time.”

The judge demonstrated his disdain for this practice by saying “that’s not how you do business.”

Since the DDA responsible was not present to speak for herself, the judge allowed the settlement conference date to be moved to April 7 with the preliminary hearing scheduled for April 14.

As a result of delaying the felony settlement conference and consequently the preliminary hearing to April, Thomas had to waive his right of having a preliminary hearing within 60 days of pleading not guilty to the crime.

About The Author

Katherine is a senior at USC majoring in Political Science with a minor in Gender and Social Justice. As an aspiring lawyer, she plans on attending law school after finishing her undergraduate degree in May 2022.

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