Why did Matthew Cordle enter a Not Guilty plea at his arraignment?

In case you’re not familiar with who Matthew Cordle is.  Several weeks ago he on You tube he admitted to killing Vincent Canzani in a hit and run DUI.  He told the camera what happened, that he was going to take responsibility, and he was going to plead guilty to the vehicular homicide charge.  If you want to watch the video here you go.

However when he had his first appearance he entered a Not Guilty plea.  Because of that there has been a negative backlash against him.  Everyone from the media, to the general public, to even the Judge that was in the Court.  But for those that don’t know here is why he didn’t plead guilty has charged like he said he would in his You Tube video.

Regardless of what the Judge says.  I firmly believe this was not a situation where the Defense team was trying to game the system or whatever the hell the Judge implied.  I’m a DUI Attorney and therefore I have appeared in thousands of arraignments.  Let me tell you what the arraignment is.

An arraignment is a formal reading of a criminal charging document in the presence of the defendant.  The purpose of this is to inform the defendant of the charges against him or her. In response to arraignment, the accused is expected to enter a plea.  Because it is the first court hearing, and the defendant is just becoming aware of what the charges are.  99.9% of the time the defendant will enter a not guilty plea.  And I would venture to say that in 100% of vehicular homicide cases the defendant does not plead guilty at the first hearing.

Mr. Cordle very well may end up pleading guilty at his next hearing.  But the arraignment is not the place to do it.  It is simply to inform the defendant of what they are being charged with in open court, determine whether any conditions of release will be imposed like bail, or home monitoring, or a release on personal recognizance.  And that’s it.

So for all of those people saying he went back on his word, and he is not taking responsibility.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.  Nobody facing an 8 year sentence is going to just willy nilly plead guilty at their first hearing.  Not because they are not holding themselves accountable.  It is because that is not what the arraignment is for.  The holds true for any DUI case and especially in a vehicular homicide case.