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Why Brittney Griner Could Be Better Off Pleading Guilty

Brittney Griner in the WNBA Finals.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 10: Brittney Griner #42 and Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury reacts to a foul call in the second half during the game against the Chicago Sky at Footprint Center on October 10, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Mike Mattina/Getty Images)

Brittney Griner's trial is scheduled to begin Friday, but legal experts warn that the Russian court won't present the WNBA star a chance of justice.

According to ESPN's T.J. Quinn, Griner will face a "show trial" that will almost certainly result in a guilty verdict. There is no jury, and 99 percent of criminal cases in Russia end with a conviction.

William Pomeranz, an expert on Russian law, said it's "a foregone conclusion" the court will "confirm the power of the state." As a result, he explained that Griner may be better served pleading guilty.

"Traditionally, the best defense is to admit your guilt and hope you get a lesser sentence," Pomeranz said. "There's not a lot of examples of people raising strong defenses and getting acquitted."

Griner is accused of carrying hashish oil into the country. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Experts told Quinn that Russia will likely require Griner to admit guilt as part of any agreement to free her. Pleading "not guilty" could result in Russian officials "making her life more miserable in the meantime."

While a guilty plea could complicate negotiations for the United States, it'd make a deal "more likely."

It's unclear how Griner plans to plead, and Quinn said the trial could last weeks, or even months. Danielle Gilbert, an assistant professor of military and strategic studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy, described the entire situation as "a negotiation strategy" for Russia.

"Hostage diplomacy relies on the pretense of law to feign a legitimate process," Gilbert said. "The Russian government is depending on Americans' own respect for the rule of law to mask their intention to use Griner for leverage."