It now appears that this free legal advice should be provided to all accused prior to entering a courtroom. No one needs to learn this lesson the hard way like Mr. Pedro Cabrera.
People of the State of Illinois v. Pedro Cabrera, No. 1-07-2922
"THE COURT: Mr. Cabrera, you can't imagine how lucky you are. I don't even understand the sentence and the agreement that was made between your attorney and the state's attorney. It boggles my mind that you are a five time convicted felon and you committed an armed robbery which endangers the life of the people that you were robbing and you come out with a six year sentence.It just boggles my mind that you come out with the minimum. I don't understand it.I’m guessing you already know how this turned out right? Mr. Cabrera elected to have a bench trial and was found guilty at trial of armed robbery. Now why on earth would Mr. Cabrera open his mouth to speak to the judge when he had a lawyer right there? As my husband would say, somehow, despite the difficult nature of it all,Mr. Cabrera managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
THE DEFENDANT: I hate to tell you the truth, Your Honor, you know what I'm saying,I plead guilty because of my background. I can't show my innocence. That's the only thing wrong with my life. Can't show my innocence because of my background.
THE COURT: Are you telling me that you are innocent of this charge?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor. Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Well Mr. Cabrera, you're going to get a chance to prove your innocence. I don't take guilty pleas from people who are innocent of the crimes that they are charged with.
THE DEFENDANT: But Your Honor, I prefer to take the time, sir.
THE COURT: I'm not interested in what you prefer. You don't have a right to cause me to disgrace myself and the criminal justice system by accepting a plea of guilty from you when you are in fact not guilty. That's what you are telling me, that you didn't commit this crime. I'm not going to send you to the penitentiary for a crime you didn't commit. Just because that may be your desire. You don't have a right to impose that on me.
THE DEFENDANT: Sir, I no I'm standing -I can't beat it at trial, sir.
THE COURT: I don't care whether you can beat it or not. You're entitled to a trial if you are not guilty of the crime you are charged with.
THE DEFENDANT: I been blessed already,you known what I'm saying. I've been blessed in the courtroom already.
THE COURT: You're going to be blessed again because you're going to get a trial. Set this case for trial. The plea is ordered vacated. Waiving his right to trial by jury. The previous order vacating his -- waiving his right to trial by jury is vacated. The plea of not guilty is reinstated.