Limbaugh Drug Charge Settlement Mischaracterized in Talking Points Memo

Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall has posted commentary to the effect that the settlement of the state charges in the Rush Limbaugh case is actually a plea agreement, implying that Limbaugh must have confessed guilt:

Don’t get bamboozled. In criminal cases we don’t call them “settlement agreements.” They are plea bargains.And while the prosecutor’s recommendation to the court will carry great weight, the judge is not obligated to ratify the plea agreement.

Looks like this may be wishful thinking at Talking Points Memo (a leftie blog).

According to Limbaugh attorney Roy Black:

I am pleased to announce that the State Attorney’s Office and Mr. Limbaugh have reached an agreement whereby a single count charge of doctor shopping filed today by the State Attorney will be dismissed in 18 months. As a primary condition of the dismissal, Mr. Limbaugh must continue to seek treatment from the doctor he has seen for the past two and one half years. This is the same doctor under whose care Mr. Limbaugh has remained free of his addiction without relapse.Mr. Limbaugh and I have maintained from the start that there was no doctor shopping, and we continue to hold this position. Accordingly, we filed today with the Court a plea of ‘Not Guilty’ to the charge filed by the State.

As part of this agreement, Mr. Limbaugh also has agreed to make a $30,000 payment to the State of Florida to defray the public cost of the investigation. The agreement also provides that he must refrain from violating the law during this 18 months, must pay $30 per month for the cost of “supervision” and comply with other similar provisions of the agreement.

Mr. Limbaugh had intended to remain in treatment. Thus, we believe the outcome for him personally will be much as if he had fought the charge and won.

Here is what the the Thompson-Gale Legal Encyclopedia says about plea agreements:

Generally a judge will authorize a plea bargain if the defendant makes a knowing and voluntary waiver of his or her right to a trial, the defendant understands the charges, the defendant understands the maximum sentence he or she could receive after pleading guilty, and the defendant makes a voluntary confession, in court, to the alleged crime. Even if a defendant agrees to plead guilty, a judge may decline to accept the guilty plea and plea agreement if the charge or charges have no factual basis.

Limbaugh, as Black says clearly, is still pleading “not guilty.”

Addendum: Newsbusters is taking a look at how the Washington Post and other media covered yesterday’s news in the Limbaugh drug case.

Addendum, 4/30/06: A critic writes:

Amy —

I have been reading Talking Points Memo regularly for several years. Josh Marshall, whether or not you agree with him, is demonstrably credible. You, on the other hand, are demonstrably not credible. Case in point, you quote Roy Black as though he is not lying through his teeth. I have followed the investigation of Rush Limbaugh and Roy has done a masterful job as undermining the judicial process for his client. There is no rational defense that can be made of Limbaugh’s hipocracy. But that doesn’t seem to matter to you in this or any other case I have seen you involved in.Grant B. Harris
Woods Hole, Mass.

If Roy Black is lying, it will be clear soon enough. The court’s records about pleas are not kept confidential. Which Black knows.

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