As Jan 6 approaches, we would be celebrating my brother’s 69th birthday, were he alive to enjoy it.
On Jan 14th, 2013, the young man who killed him, Maxim Hoppens, is scheduled to accept a plea bargain for a 30-year imprisonment at hard labor.
Anyone who wishes to accompany me in attendance at the plea bargain may do so. Won’t blame you if you choose not to. For me, it cannot be a choice. I will represent my brother at the hearing as he will be unable to attend himself in the incarnation of body as his own advocate.
At the hearing, the Judge will explain the constitutional rights Maxim Hoppens will be giving up by pleading guilty: his right to trial by a jury of 12 (10 of whom must agree on a verdict); the right to confront (i.e., cross-examine) witnesses against him; the right to compulsory process (i.e., subpoena witnesses to testify on his behalf); the right to remain silent while no adverse inference can be drawn from his silence; and, finally, that, by pleading guilty, he will be waiving all of his rights guaranteed by the constitution.
The judge will ask another line of questions to be sure that the guilty plea Maxim Hoppens intends to enter was not the product of force, threats, duress, coercion, or intimidation. The judge will determine that no one has induced Max Hoppens’ guilty plea with promises or representations other than that he would receive a sentence of imprisonment at hard labor for 30 years.
The judge will then ask Ernie Chen, the assistant DA who has handled the case against Max Hoppens, to present a “factual basis” for the guilty plea (a summary of the prosecution’s case against Hoppens.
Only after the judge has satisfied herself that there is a factual basis for the guilty plea, and after the defendant will have been advised fully of his rights under the constitution and willfully waived his constitutional protections, will the judge accept the guilty plea and impose the 30-year sentence.
The hearing is scheduled for 10 am, and the whole proceeding will take 20 minutes.