Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ah, the New Year

I'm not really interested in other people's New Year's resolutions, to be quite honest. That's all you read about in blogs at this time of year and they bore me. After all, if the change you're making is drastic enough to be interesting, it's probably best kept private (not gambling away the kid's college fund, cut down on heroin production, etc). If it's mild enough to be talked about, it's probably not interesting.

I do have a couple, and they fall under the "mild enough to be uninteresting to others," so I'll keep them to myself.

But one change, hopefully of relevance to the blog, is that I plan to keep a tally of pleas we take in the 167th District Court. I have a simple chart, and I'll just tick off every plea, noting whether end up at jail time or probation. Every month, I'll post the results.

Now, understand that this won't be especially informative. Jail could be two days of time served to fifty years in the penitentiary. And probation could be six months on a misdemeanor to ten years on aggravated assault.

Mildly interesting, perhaps?

I hope so, it's hard to know how to break it down further without creating a record-keeping headache, something I don't need. I'll be asking my three court colleagues to keep a tally, too, so I don't want to burden them unduly.

By the way, someone told me that the DA's office disposed of 10,000 cases last year. Ten thousand. 10k. Sounds like a lot to me. Now, if you'll excuse me I have a batch of new ones to attend to.

And Happy New Year to you all. (May you not be one of our ten thousand cases this year!)


  1. A simple logging of plea outcomes on a binary basis (no jail time/some jail time) can potentially be difficult and further obscure the statistical implications if a plea is a package deal (e.g., husband and wife both charged but one charge is dismissed if the other pleads guilty – thus jail for one, no jail for the other); or if the plea involves a criminal defendant that is not a “person” who can be sent to jail – BP Amoco, Ku Klux Klan, or whatever; or if the plea results in some resolution other than jail/no jail, such as commitment to a mental institution; etc., etc. But maybe these sort of situations never come up in the 167th.

  2. That's a good point, and why I pointed out that the statistical usefulness of this is exceptionally limited. Of mild interest, I think I said. :)
    And, to reference your examples, I can't remember having a package deal like that, nor do the four prosecutors assigned to the court deal with entities -- we have a special unit to handle those cases. But yes, the "study" has limitations, it was never intended to be scientific.


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