Paying Plea Agreements More Than Lip Service

April 9, 2020  |  New York Law Journal

Sometimes defense counsel sees hard-won plea agreement concessions have limited impact on the court at sentencing, and the issue arises whether the prosecutor’s sentencing arguments went so far as to deny the defendant the benefit of his or her plea bargain. In our latest article, we discuss United States v. Wright, an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit brought by a co-defendant in the fraud prosecution of former sports radio personality Craig Carton, which presented the question whether though purporting to accept the terms of a plea agreement, a prosecutor’s advocacy may cross the line into a breach of that agreement. Although Wright’s withdrawal of the appeal leaves further development of this important area of criminal law to another day, in analyzing Wright and other key Second Circuit decisions, we conclude that Wright should serve as a cautionary tale to prosecutors who prefer to avoid claims of violating their own plea agreements.

Paying Plea Agreements More Than Lip Service (pdf | 502.38 KB)