Thursday, March 02, 2006

Alford plea

Who uses it: Criminal defense lawyers
What it means: A plea that does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict the defendant. It differs from nolo contendere (no contest) pleas in that courts consider an Alford plea one type of guilty plea. A nolo plea is not a guilty plea -- so an Alford plea counts toward three-strikes laws, and a nolo plea doesn't. In many states, lawyers use the Alford plea as a procedural method of postponing a trial until charges are eventually dismissed.
How you can use it: When you're busted.

Has anyone been paying attention to this case in Ohio where the parents stand accused of keeping their 11 adopted children in cages? Their "mother" is pleading not guilty, on the grounds that the children asked to be kept in cages.

My friend Joseph's Boston terrier, Milo, actually does like to be in his crate -- but 1) he is a dog and 2) he is a little emotionally disturbed, due to an unpleasant experience in his early doghood that we don't like to talk about. So unless these children were left alone in an apartment with their dead first owners for some period of time (that's what happened to Milo), I'm not buying this argument.

But this was the most disturbing piece of information in the article I read:

Sharen Gravelle said she met her husband in 1986 at a dinner for a child sex abuse support group. She said she was attending because a relative had been molested. Michael Gravelle was there because he was accused of inappropriate touching, a charge he denies. The couple married two months later.

...and this wouldn't have come up in the adoption home study?

1 comment:

J. said...

Actually, I was struck by something that turns up in coverage of the trial that the wire services did not pick up. It appears that Michael Gravelle was taking a nine-year-old girl to bed with him whenever Sharen was away from the house until the children were removed.

He sure appears to be a consistent child abuser. I will not be surprised to learn that other girls, including Sharen's 'missing' daughter, might have had experiences similar to his biological daughter and this girl's.

In regard to Alfords, I think the social worker has already entered either nolos or Alfords to some of the charges against her.

I doubt the Gravelles have enough sense to take a deal. They are so out of touch with reality that they don't know the malarkey they are relying on will not convince a rational person they are not culpable.