One time, when I was in college, I was driving a friend in my car. When I stopped at a stop sign, she said, "You stopped? You didn't have to. The ones with the white borders are optional."
I thought about it for a second. Could she be right? Were there other kinds of stop signs? Wouldn't an optional stop sign be a yield sign?
I quickly figured out that she was kidding.
Here's my problem. My client actually believes it. Well, not about the stop sign, but about whatever ridiculousness they're telling him in the jail law library. And it is ridiculous.
I've tried to tell my client how ridiculous it is. But, the thing is, he likes what he hears from them better than what he hears from me. They tell him "Look here, here where the cop wrote 3rd Steret? That means they have to throw this case out. You're going home!" I tell him things like "The fact that they spelled the word 'Street' wrong in one place on your paperwork does not really change the fact that they're going to be able to prove that you committed this robbery, and you're going to do prison time." No wonder he believes them more than he believes me - he wants to. Maybe deep down even he knows that this is too good to be true, but if he does, he doesn't let on.
So, now we're at a point where my client is turning down a pretty good plea deal because he's still caught up in the idea that this typo issue is going to somehow break his way. In fact, he may be so caught up in this idea that he misses his chance at the plea deal completely, and ends up going to a trial that he's going to lose, and get stuck doing more time.
I've tried reasoning with him. I've explained the trial to him. I said, "You're right, I can ask the cop about that typo when he's testifying. But the jury is going to hear from the old man who says you robbed him. They're going to hear from the witness who says he saw you throw the gun. And they're going to have the cop who searched you and found the old man's wallet in your pocket. And they're going to have your videotaped confession where you talk about how you robbed that old man and you saying, nah you don't feel bad about it, 'because it's a dog eat dog world out there.' And then I'm going to get up there and say 'See here where it says 3rd Steret? What did Officer O'Brien mean by that? Where is 3rd Steret? Because my client was arrested on 3rd Street.' I can call the cop sloppy, and say that maybe he put the same care into this investigation as he did into writing the report, and that means that they got the wrong guy. But at the end of the trial, when the jury is deliberating, Street vs. Steret isn't going to be a big enough to discrepancy to outweigh all of the other evidence. And the jury is going to find you guilty, and you're going to be facing more time that what you're looking at right now. Right?"
My client seemed to be listening intently, maybe I was getting through to him. He paused, like he was processing what I was saying. Maybe he was going to come around. But then he said, "Yeah, but the case will get overturned on appeal. You see, there's no jurisdiction. Because there's no such place as 3rd Steret anywhere in this state."