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Confession Is Good for the Soul—Bad for Court

Jaime Bauzó-Santiago wrote a note to the judge presiding over his trial for illegal possession of a firearm. The note stated, "I have a situation with my lawyer … he has no interest in my case [and] I do not have good communications with the lawyer … Because of these reasons I would like to ask of the Honorable Judge to change counsel … if possible. I want to take advantage to notify you that I, Jaime Bauzó-Santiago … have always accepted my responsibility as to guilt, the only thing that I ask of you is that the time for the weapons law crime be a reasonable one." Bauzó-Santiago signed the note.

Not surprisingly, the court read the note and disclosed its contents to the prosecutor and defense counsel. Even less surprisingly, Bauzó-Santiago was convicted.

Bauzó-Santiago appealed and told the court of appeals that the note was part of a plea bargain discussion. As such, the note should not have been considered by the judge. I haven't seen the appellate brief, but perhaps it said, "I know that I am guilty, you know that I am guilty, I never said that I wasn't guilty. But it is unfair for you to find me guilty just because I said that I am guilty (oh, yeah, plus the testimony of the officer who found the gun)."

Are you shocked to learn that the court of appeals held that Bauzó-Santiago's letter to the judge was admissible? He lost the appeal and went to prison without passing "Go" and collecting $200. We catch the dumb ones. United States v. Bauzó-Santiago, 2017 WL 3392672 (1st Cir. 2017)