The fact that private criminal defense attorneys always seemed to get better plea deals for their clients than public defenders irked me to no end during the five years that I spent as a public defender at the start of my career as a criminal defense lawyer. This discrepancy in plea offers extended to private counsel versus public defenders was so universally known that my mentor in the Public Defenders' Office would advise defendants charged with serious felonies, who had no viable defense to raise at trial, that they should hire a private attorney in order to maximize their chances of getting a favorable plea offer. It was not that my mentor was trying to avoid another client on his case load; he legitimately cared about the wellbeing of these defendants and was giving them solid advice.
Zayd Issah, an erstwhile highly touted linebacker in the 2013 Penn State recruiting class, has accepted a favorable plea offer, which will spare him a violent felony conviction and additional jail time. During Arts Fest in downtown State College last summer, Issah was involved in an altercation with police, leading to two counts of aggravated assault on police officers, one count of simple assault, five counts of resisting arrest and one count of possession of small amount of marijuana for personal use. Pursuant to the plea agreement accepted by Judge Pamela A. Ruest of the Centre County Court of Common Pleas, Issah pled guilty to simple assault, resisting arrest and possession of a small amount of marijuana for a sentence of five days to 23.5 months. Issah previously served five days before posting bail, so he will serve additional jail time in this case only if he violates parole.