The federal judge presiding over the prosecution of Scott Bloch, the former head of the Office of Special Counsel, today gave the defense lawyers more time to decide whether and how to challenge a ruling that denied Bloch's request to back out of his guilty plea.
Last night, Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson refused to allow Bloch to withdraw his plea to the misdemeanor charge of contempt of Congress. Bloch’s attorneys said he would not have pleaded guilty had he known the offense was not probation-eligible. In February, Robinson ruled the charge carries a one-month mandatory minimum jail sentence.
In Robinson’s decision yesterday, she said Bloch knew he could face a prison sentence of up to a year by pleading guilty. Bloch’s attorney, Winston & Strawn partner William Sullivan Jr., and assistant U.S. attorney Glenn Leon both told Robinson she has discretion to sentence Bloch to probation.
Robinson this afternoon rescheduled Bloch’s sentencing hearing for March 14. Sullivan is expected to file a motion urging Robinson to reconsider her decision denying Bloch’s request to withdraw his plea.
In court today, Sullivan argued Robinson had ignored “crucial precedents” that informed Bloch and government prosecutors during plea negotiations. Sullivan pointed to two cases, including the prosecution of baseball star Miguel Tejada, in which defendants in Washington were sentenced to probation for contempt of Congress.