Kelly Rindfleisch pleaded guilty to one count of doing campaign work while working from her county office as an aide for then County Executive Walker. Within twenty four hours her attorney is making noises about appealing the ‘conviction’ and applying her 2002 immunity deal to her 2010 activities. The original Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article can be found here and Capper’s Cognitive Dissidence article here.
Now, why would you cop a plea if you thought you had any legal recourse in a court of law? Isn’t the point of a plea bargain to minimize your punishment and get on with your life for something that is indefensible or where the evidence is overwhelming and you stand not a chance? If you think you can win on appeal, why wouldn’t you roll the dice in court and then appeal when you lose? Or on appeal, is the only crime reviewable the one where you admitted guilt? It seems to me that pleading guilty should pretty much preclude the ability to appeal.
“It’s the court’s view that (appeal) right would be extinguished” by her guilty plea, (Circuit Judge David) Hansher said in court Thursday.
Or can Ms. Rindfleisch’s attorney go court hunting for a more favorable appellate jurisdiction under the recent GOP legislation out of Madison?
On to the by now infamous immunity deal from 2002. Ms. Rindfleisch was essentially given immunity to testify about state legislators and their aides who were doing campaign work while at their state jobs. So she has a clear understanding of what is and what is not permissible under state law.
Which explains why nearly everyone is totally flabbergasted by the stance that the 2002 agreement should be applied forward to the more recent crimes. Even the judge was taken aback enough to discuss it in open court:
Hansher also said he was surprised to see (lawyer Franklyn) Gimbel bring up the immunity issue as a permissible basis of appealing a voluntary guilty plea when he read it in a Journal Sentinel article on the case that broke on JSOnline late Wednesday. The judge said he consulted with several other judges on the point and they agreed with his interpretation
Obviously there have been a number of media articles about this case since it seems to be taking forever to resolve. But I have never seen a comment on any site that suggested that the immunity deal should be applied to the new more recent accusations. I don’t think anyone but Ms. Rindfleisch or Mr. Gimbel would even consider saying it out loud!
And quite frankly, my suggestion, in the wake of a repeated offense of an almost identical nature, would be to rescind the initial immunity deal and charge her with whatever crimes were alleged at the time. To me, it’s not that unlike violating parole.
We’ll see how this plays out. The plea bargain keeps Governor Walker off the stand for the time being. Ms. Rindfleisch will be sentenced November 19th. So this little legal soap opera will continue to be appealed in the media. Isn’t there something in the Constitution about the right to a swift trial? In this case it would certainly help prevent the public’s continued aggravation.