Judge Complains About Media Leaks in Lindsay Lohan Case

Lindsay Lohan went to court today. She didn't accept the confidential plea deal the Judge suggested to lawyers yesterday during an in chambers secret meeting. At the short hearing today, the Judge gave Lindsay two more weeks to decide whether to accept it.

The Daily Beast reports the Judge also complained about the media leaks, particularly to TMZ and RadarOnline. He said he didn't suspect the attorneys.

Thankfully, this case doesn't involve military secrets where people's lives are at stake, because I can't believe how these things leak out, how TMZ, RadarOnline, all of these, I don't know how,” said [Judge]Schwartz.


``I respect both of the attorneys are completely honorable. They requested confidentiality. I certainly, I don't even tell my wife what's going on. So I can't understand how they find out this information. I'm just, please respect the confidentiality nature of these agreements. It's not fair for either side to have these things leaked out in dribs or drabs. It's not right. Cases should be litigated in court, in a courtroom, so then everybody can hear what's going on. It doesn't benefit anybody, so please try as our understanding was to keep whatever offer I made confidential.''

In the event Lindsay decides to take the plea bargain, the judge instructed Lindsay's lawyer to file it under seal, "for his eyes only."

Lindsay is between a rock and hard place. Since the preliminary hearing on the felony theft charge for the necklace will be heard the same day as her probation violation complaint (April 22), it's possible that if bound over on the theft charge, she will be jailed immediately for the probation violation, and have to remain in jail without bond pending trial on the felony.

If Lindsay takes the deal, she must decide and appear in court on March 25. That leaves two weeks for her lawyer, Shawn Holley, to try and tweak the deal.

Question: Why is the judge making plea offers at all? Isn't that the province of the District Attorney in the executive branch? I suspect he didn't really make a plea offer to Lindsay, but rather, told both sides how he intended to sentence her if she accepted the prosecution's offer.

Why does this matter? Because Shawn Holley may still have a chance to get a better plea offer from the D.A. The Judge then gets to accept or reject it.

Some plea offers call for a specific sentence. Others specify a minimum sentence. Others leave it up to the judge entirely.

Perhaps Lindsay could admit the probation violation, in exchange for which, the prosecutor would agree to delay sentencing and not ask that Lindsay be jailed pending trial on the theft charge, if bound over at the prelim.

To sweeten the pot for the D.A., perhaps Lindsay would agree both to admit the probation violation and waive her preliminary hearing, in exchange for not being jailed pending trial.

The Judge seems willing to tell the parties in advance whether he'll agree to their plea terms. If he gives his stamp of approval, Lindsay would be able to stay out of jail on bond pending the theft trial.

If she's acquitted at trial, surely she wouldn't face jail for a probation violation based on the theft. (Unless California has a statute to the contrary.) And if convicted at trial on the theft charge, she's going to do time anyway, so what's a little more for the probation violation? And perhaps the judge would make the two sentences run concurrent rather than consecutively.

All I'm saying is Lindsay is not out of options. I don't pretend to know California law -- for example whether a finding of guilt on a probation violation requires immediate revocation and immediate sentencing and precludes other options -- but these kinds of deals are made every day across America. People admit the probation violation and the judge finds probation has been violated. The judge can then allow them to continue on probation, or revoke or terminate probation. A jail sentence may or may not be imposed.

If the Judge in Lindsay's case is serious about treating Lindsay the same as everyone else, something he has said a few times, he should take care not to treat her more harshly than others just because she's Lindsay Lohan.

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  • Display: Sort:
    What's Holley's leverage? (none / 0) (#1)
    by getoffamycloud10 on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 08:51:17 PM EST
    What's Holley's leverage with the DA at this point?

    What's in it for the DA to offer any more at this point? Even if they toss the theft charge, don't they still have her for the probation violation?

    Jail helps nobody but something's gotta give here. She's entered the last stages of the Robert Downey, Jr zone.

    Can she be sentenced to a mandatory treatment center she can't sign herself out of and nobody gives a damn who she is?

    I am still trying to get past the (none / 0) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:04:12 PM EST
    notion that Lohan's alleged infraction rises to the level of a case involving military secrets.

    And perhaps that confidentiality would be more important if there were military secrets involved.

    But I will say that I thought it was a mistake for Lohan to wear a necklace at her court appearance today.  Might sound strange, but the news presenters kept talking about the stolen necklace and she had one on.  Weirdly reinforcing that she might be guilty, or that she had plenty - but either way it sort of made me think about it more.

    Who said it (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 09:13:22 AM EST
    rose to the level of military secrets?

    The judge said thankfully it DIDN'T rise to the level of military secrets.


    Assuming Ms. Lohan is convicted (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:35:25 PM EST
    of felony grand theft, she could be sentenced to no time in custody, up to a year in local custody, or to state prison:  

    California Penal Code section 489:

    Grand theft is punishable as follows:

    (a)When the grand theft involves the theft of a firearm, by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, 2, or 3 years.

    (b)In all other cases, by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or in the state prison.

    it's the probation violation sentence (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 11:22:11 PM EST
    I'm not certain of. What are the court's options once it has found (or she has admitted) she violated probation in the DUI case because of the necklace theft charge?

    Isn't the probation case an underlying DUI? (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 11:42:39 PM EST
    Misdemeanor.  If a first offense, no mandatory time in custody.  I suspect the plea bargain is for misdemeanor grand theft, and promise of limited local custody--maybe with work release or in-patient treatment program.  

    Yes but it's not her first probation (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 01:03:16 AM EST
    violation. The last time she violated she got 90 days.

    Just found this, which explains how the court can violate her on the basis of a preliminary hearing finding of probable cause:

    During the court hearing, the Prosecutor must prove the violation by more than 50% of the evidence, as opposed to `beyond a reasonable doubt' which is necessary for a criminal trial.

    As to the judge's options:

    There are several factors that the Judge and Prosecutor use when considering a probation violation.  They include:

        * The seriousness of the probation violation
        * The nature of the probation violation
        * The history of previous probation violations
        * New criminal activity surrounding the probation violation
        * Aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the probation violation
        * The probation officer and/or probation department's view of the probation violation
        * The probation violation with respect to the probation term (whether it occurred at the beginning, middle, or end of the probationary term)