If you didn't do what the Feds accuse you of, you should not enter a guilty plea. If you enter a guilty plea, you should not ask for your right to appeal, especially if you claim you did not do anything. Monica Conyers apparently missed that day in class
After months of silence, the combative and unpredictable Monica Conyers erupted during her sentencing in federal court Wednesday: first, repeatedly asking to withdraw her guilty plea, then exclaiming she wasn't going to jail for something she didn't do.
"I'm not going to be made a scapegoat for other people," the ex-Detroit councilwoman said in a raised voice. But U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn was unmoved. He sentenced her to 37 months in prison and two years of probation.
Her attorney, Steven Fishman, told Cohn the news media has pounded Conyers "like a piñata." Acknowledging ongoing corruption investigations, Fishman said his client "should not be a poster child for all that."
Conyers, who is married to U.S. Rep. John Conyers — who was not in court and did not comment — pleaded guilty last summer for her role in a bribery scheme involving a $1.2-billion sludge hauling contract between the city and Texas-based Synagro Technologies.
Conyers is to report to prison July 1.
But, later Wednesday, Conyers filed a notice to appeal and was appointed representation by the Federal Defender's Office.
Although defendants often are allowed to appeal rulings, there is a question if that applies to Conyers in this case because she signed a plea agreement as part of her admission of guilt on June 22 that indicates if the sentence imposed falls at 60 months or less, "defendant waives any right to appeal her conviction or sentence."
Alan Gershel, a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Attorney's Office who is now a professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, said Conyers' signature on the plea agreement effectively stymies an appeal.
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