State Bill Would Eliminate “Mini Trials” For Capital Crime Plea Deals

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – We saw a prime example of a mini trial with Amy Bishop-Anderson.

Basically – if you’re facing a capital charge and you plead guilty – you still have to go through a trial to uphold the plea deal.

It’s designed so that prosecutors can’t convince people to plead guilty without sufficient evidence.  In the bishop case, a jury found there was sufficient evidence.

Though that might not apply to every similar case.

Criminal Attorney Jake Watson says, “The fear may be, ‘Well, if I don’t, I might get the death penalty.’  Let’s make sure there’s actually a factual basis for this and let a jury decide.”

But there are reasons to move away from mini trials like Bishop’s.

Watson explains, “I think it’d save money.  Right now we’re having to pay for a jury trial, having to bring jurors in, so I think that it would save money.”

Though it might turn out these kinds of mini trials are required protections for those accused.

Watson estimates, “I think it may be challenged constitutionally whether or not they can do away with the mini trial.  That may be an appeal issue.”

Clearly HB262 handles a nuanced issue, so it deserves a nuanced approach.

Watson says, “It should be examined closely.  It seems like something that’s just been ran up the flag pole real quick like.”