In a departure from his standard form, Gordon Howie provides a quote from a named source in his continued misguided flacking for convicted felon Annette Bosworth. Howie somehow drags Bosworth’s Rapid City lawyer Robert Van Norman out to the blogosphere to spar with Attorney General Marty Jackley about the plea deals both sides considered before Bosworth went to trial:
I understand that there has been a controversy about whether or not Dr. Bosworth went to trial for dramatic effect as opposed to having been willing to settle her case pretrial. The defense always was open to discussing plea bargain terms that would have been based on a high grade misdemeanor(s). The State consistently refused that approach, insisting generally on a plea bargain based on a minimum of two felony charges [Robert Van Norman, quoted in Gordon Howie, “Is Marty Jackley Telling the Truth?” The Right Side, 2015.06.15].
Perhaps Howie gets the quote and the source correct, but he then falls back into getting his logic all wrong. Howie lines Van Norman’s claim alongside AG Jackley’s statement that the state offered Bosworth plea deals that would have left the convicted petition perjurer “in a better place then she currently is in relation to any potential sentence or permanent record” and concludes that AG Jackley is not telling the truth:
Jackley KNOWS that even ONE felony likely results in the loss of Bosworth’s license to practice medicine. How then, does a minimum of TWO place her in a better position?? [Howie, 2015.06.15]
Actually, there is no contradiction between the predictably parsed, lawyerly statements of Jackley and Van Norman. Two felony charges bring a lower maximum penalty than twelve felony charges. Pleading in general wins goodwill from the prosecution, the judge, and the taxpayers, who are spared the expense of a trial. The deal Van Norman says the state offered, while perhaps unsatisfactory to a client who believes she should never be held accountable for her crimes, would indeed have left that client in a better situation than carrying twelve felony convictions on her record.
As for pleading to misdemeanors, to what misdemeanors could a petition perjurer plead? The Attorney General doesn’t make laws up to suit his political agenda (either his real agenda or that imputed to him by Howie). The Legislature writes South Dakota law. The Legislature defines perjury as a felony. The Legislature made its last amendments to our perjury laws in 2007, when they added the lighter Class 6 felony classification to the perjury penalties that previously were only as light as Class 5. The Legislature has not defined any such thing as “misdemeanor perjury.” The Legislature left the Attorney General with no lesser crime to which the defendant in this perjury case could plead.
In Howie’s Annettephoria, the strictures of state law probably prove the Legislature was part of the vast conspiracy against Bosworth six years before she announced her fake Senate candidacy.
But under the South Dakota law written by the Legislature, the actions laid out in the indictment against Bosworth constituted perjury. Under South Dakota law, perjury is a felony, not a misdemeanor. If Van Norman is telling the truth, we must logically conclude that the defense was asking the state to throw out its indictment and accept Bosworth’s guilty plea to lesser crimes that never drew the attention of investigators or the grand jury, if they happened at all.
The proper response to the Van Norman–Jackley sparring is, “So what?” Plea bargains are a favor, not a right. The state offered Bosworth a bargain; she wanted a bigger bargain. They failed to reach a deal. A jury thus got to hear the facts and find Bosworth guilty of every charge the state brought. Let’s close the case and move on.