Blog Post


Clients frequently wonder what attorneys do when they appear in court. A lot of time it is just a matter of waiting. Today is an example.

This morning I had to be in the Circuit Court in St. Charles County for a sentencing on a case. This will be the final appearance for this young man. The Judge will either put him on probation or send him to jail. We don’t know what the outcome will be because he entered what is called an “open plea.” In other words he pled guilty without the prosecutor making any recommendation on the case.

This happens infrequently. It happened in this case because we could not agree with the prosecutor as to what would be an acceptable recommendation. In other words, we think they were being too harsh. The Judge will probably go lighter on the client than the prosecutor was willing to recommend.

This case was put on the Court’s docket today along with many others. That means the court will call through the docket first to see what cases can be handled by the attorney just filing some sort of memo. These are generally memos that continue the case to another date. They are quite common.

Then there are proceedings that take just a few minutes. Generally those are arraignments. That is where the person appears and enters a plea of not guilty.

Finally the court takes up the cases that require a little more of the Court’s time. These are when the defendant enters a guilty plea or, as in my case, the defendant will be sentenced. The rationale behind doing it this way is that it does not require all of those people who require only a brief amount of the court’s time from waiting around unnecessarily.

Today is one of those days that is just going to drag on. It is already 11:15 a.m. and we are far from being reached. We have been here since 9:00 a.m.

I understand that this is to be expected. I feel sorry for my client. He has to sit here and wonder about his future. That can’t be easy.