As it turns out, there is one circumstance during which a defendant pleads guilty at his arraignment.
It happens when a plea bargain already has been worked out.
Per Arthur Staple of Newsday (via Twitter), receiver Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty this morning to felony weapons charges, and he’ll serve a two-year prison term.
News of the deal came at 9:30 a.m. ET (just as the hearing was scheduled to begin) from John Eligon of the New York Times.
The most surprising aspect of the deal, in our view, is that Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau left on the table the two-year deal that Burress previously had spurned, even after Burress essentially confessed to the crime in a Hail Mary effort before the grand jury.
Some prosecutors would have yanked the deal, adding another six or eight months, or maybe a year, to any future offers.
Then again, maybe that’s what Morgenthau did — and maybe that’s what got Burress to make the first prudent decision he has made in years.