A lot of memorable criminal justice stories revolve around the drama and morbid glamor associated with the jury trial. A new podcast from Lemonada Media, Blind Plea, instead focuses on the plea bargain—a less captivating but far more common judicial experience.
The series tells the story of Deven Grey, who shot her abusive boyfriend after he was allegedly violent one night in their rural Alabama trailer home. Listeners hear about their fraught relationship, her failed "stand your ground" hearing, her conviction, and her imprisonment.
At the core of the podcast is Grey opting for a "blind plea"—a rare type of deal where the defendant pleads guilty without knowing the punishment. "In America, who has the right to self defense and a fair trial?" the series aims to ask.
Unfortunately, it never answers the second part of that question. In part that's because Grey's plea deal ends up a puzzlingly small part of the narrative. But it's also because, in reality, the vast majority of defendants never go to trial, knowing they'll face a "trial penalty" and receive more time, if convicted, for exercising their Sixth Amendment right. This would have been a rich area to interrogate, especially for a podcast named after a plea bargain, but that angle ends up a missed opportunity.
While host Liz Flock centers herself too much in the narrative, she spins a compelling series about generational abuse and the importance of a robust, nondiscriminatory right to self-defense—both outside court and inside it.