« Taiwan struggling with death penalty administration | Main | NY Times editorial supports jury findings for mandatory minimums »

June 3, 2012

"The Innocent Defendant’s Dilemma: An Innovative Empirical Study of Plea Bargaining’s Innocence Problem"

The title of this post the title of this new paper available via SSRN authored by Lucian Dervan and Vanessa Edkins. Here is the abstract:

In 1989, Ada JoAnn Taylor was accused of murder and presented with stark options.  If she pleaded guilty, she would be rewarded with a sentence of ten to forty years in prison.  If, however, she proceeded to trial and was convicted, she would likely spend the rest of her life behind bars.  Over a thousand miles away in Florida and more than twenty years later, a college student was accused of cheating and presented with her own incentives to admit wrongdoing and save the university the time and expense of proceeding before a disciplinary review board.  Both women decided the incentives were enticing and pleaded guilty.

That Taylor and the college student both pleaded guilty is not the only similarity between the cases.  Both were also innocent of the offenses for which they had been accused.  After serving nineteen years in prison, Taylor was exonerated after DNA testing proved that neither she nor any of the other five defendants who pleaded guilty in her case were involved in the murder.  As for the college student, her innocence is assured by the fact that, unbeknownst to her, she was actually part of an innovative new study into plea bargaining and innocence.  The study, conducted by the authors, involving dozens of college students, and taking place over several months, not only recreated the innocent defendant’s dilemma experienced by Taylor, but revealed that plea bargaining’s innocence problem is not isolated to an obscure and rare set of cases.

Strikingly, the authors’ study found that over half of the participants were willing to falsely admit guilt in return for a perceived benefit.  This finding not only brings finality to the long-standing debate regarding the possible extent of plea bargaining’s innocence problem, but also ignites a fundamental constitutional question regarding an institution the Supreme Court reluctantly approved of in 1970 in return for an assurance it would not be used to induce innocent defendants to falsely admit guilt.

June 3, 2012 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e2016306190639970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "The Innocent Defendant’s Dilemma: An Innovative Empirical Study of Plea Bargaining’s Innocence Problem":

Comments

There are 20 million Index felonies, which are serious crimes. There are 2 million prosecutions, many of productive males who have done nothing wrong, except have assets. That is a very high false negative rate. The lawyer running the criminal law is nearly worthless to the safety of the public.

Now, we are saying there is also a high false positive rate. Prosecutors using bullying tactics learned from the Inquisition, are putting innocent people in prison on their coerced confessions. A quarter of those exonerated have confessed to the murder, fed false memories of private real details by the agent of the prosecution, the police.

Welcome to the Inquisition 2.0, where none of the self stated goals are sincere, but only rent seeking is the goal. Rent seeking is a synonym for armed robbery. The violent nature of rent seeking justifies 1) tort liability for an activity that is inherently dangerous in its ordinary use, namely strict liability; 2) physical, violent self-defense against the entire apparatus of this scheme; 3) mass arrests of all parties involved for conspiracy to kidnap, and falsely imprison innocent people, a huge class.

Ironic. If a civilian says the criminal law is in failure, he is labeled as insane.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 3, 2012 11:44:21 PM

Thanks for calling attention to this. It is my sense that this goes on all the time and it should bother everyone.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Jun 4, 2012 12:06:22 AM

hmm and what's funny is people are suprised that BLACKMAIL works!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jun 4, 2012 12:53:40 AM

Oh, but I thought Bill Otis and his fellow government stooges only filed charges against guilty people.

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Jun 4, 2012 1:17:35 AM

I'd be pretty pissed if I were Ms. Taylor. The question is what is to be done about false confessions? They do happen. What also happens is that plea deals save a lot of time and expense . . . .

You can't really blame Ms. Taylor. Since she was innocent, she never should have been put in that position to start with. So where's the blame? Is it really a case where the prosecution was not negligent?

And what if Ms. Taylor decides that if the state doesn't compensate her she will extract some revenge (assuming that the prosecutors weren't completely innocent). We are often told that without punishment, people will take the law into their own hands. Is there a moral exception for prosecutors, police etc.?

I understand that this is a provocative post. But unredressed governmental abuse (assuming it happened to Ms. Taylor) creates conundrums for those who believe in the rule of law. Or if we really want to create an interesting fact-pattern--let's say Ms. Taylor killed a prison guard to escape? Would we say a dissident who escaped from a Chinese prison was bad if he or she killed a guard to get out? Well, in the case of prosecutorial abuse that convicts an innocent person (once again, assumed here), how are we any different than the Chinese government, vis a vis that one person?

You see, CCDC, you are a coward. You truly believe that the government is tyrannical. Yet, all you do is call the government thuggish.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 4, 2012 3:49:13 AM

"Yet, all you do is call the government thuggish."

No. All it does is takes its money for a very good living.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 4, 2012 5:31:56 AM

Again, as a defendant who went through a three week Federal Trial and was acquitted on all charges, I certainly faced this terrible dilemma. My situation was made worse by the fact that it was obvious that it was my husband that the prosecution was actually after. Their threats to "we're going to indict your wife"--when they knew or should have known I was innocent were obviously meant to coerce HIM into pleading guilty. It was absolutely inappropriate to use me as a tool to reach him---my defense attorneys begged the prosecution not to proceed against ME--to no avail, and my husband did not want to plead guilty. In spite of their continued threats, knowing I was in fact innocent (and in spite of the realization of the VERY HIGH RISKS of choosing to go to trial, not to mention the expense) I supported HIS desire to put the Government to the test. I should not have had to have done that, nor should he have had to go to the trial with the pressure of his innocent wife sitting at the defense table with him.

Posted by: folly | Jun 4, 2012 8:42:40 AM

CCDC, please stop. Bill Otis does a reasonably good job of portraying himself in an obnoxious light. You're not clever for pointing it out. Just let it go and stop feeding the trolls. You now look no better than him.

Posted by: defenseattorney | Jun 4, 2012 9:23:01 AM

1. Agree with defenseattorney. Let it go.

2. These findings seem fascinating, although it also seems cruel to the college students involved! I suppose I'll have to read the full article to see how they got this around the informed-consent requirements/ethics boards that supervise experiments.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 4, 2012 10:51:31 AM

The client gets the say on whether to plead gulity or go to trial. If the client goes to trial, it's the client's choice to have a trial by jury, or by the judge alone, and whether to testify, or to remain silent. If convicted, it's the client's choice whether to appeal or not. Lots of my clients have entered a guilty plea early in the case--too early in my opinion, and to higher charges than continued working the case could yield--becuase they can't live with the uncertainty of what might happen, if they prolong the process, especially with a trial.

Posted by: Greg Jones | Jun 4, 2012 11:00:14 AM

Anon,
I also was wondering about the ethics issue and consent. After a quick glance at the paper, it looks like they accused the student of cheating on a logic test that was part of a psychological study. See page 2 of the paper. Perhaps the consent for that study covered what they were doing.
I also noted that the student's penalty, after taking responsibility for wrongdoing, involved only a loss of compensation for participating in the study --- which was probably not much $$$. The consequences of making the college prove guilt included, if she lost, informing her faculty advisor of the matter and requiring enrollment in an ethics course. While I suppose it might provide insight into when an innocent person might admit guilt, it seems like comparing this situation with the situation of the murder defendant is problematic. I would think most people would just want to walk away from the study and the compensation for the study, rather than risk a bad entry on their college record.
I also did not read far enough into the article to determine if the college student was allowed to essentially plead no contest and not admit guilt. If this was allowed, I would think the comparison is even worse.

Posted by: Tim Holloway | Jun 4, 2012 11:43:18 AM

This shows the dark side of plea bargaining and commenter Daniel will be nodding.

Plea bargaining also lets many factually guilty people to serve much less time in prison. So, we need to determine -- and studies like this probably help -- where the ultimate balances lies.

Was the "institution" of plea bargaining really suddenly accepted in 1970? The "institution" with all its nuances might be modern, but the idea of admitting to a lesser thing to get a lesser punishment so that each side gets something is not. It is of ancient origin and continues to be privately done in many contexts.

A form of it is also found in legislative contexts where each side gets less than they want, at times agreeing to something they oppose, since they think the risk of something much worse is there. And, sometimes, they make no effort to even publicly state their concerns, so the result looks more benign than it really is.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 4, 2012 12:30:31 PM

defenseattorney --

"Bill Otis does a reasonably good job of portraying himself in an obnoxious light."

If there is a particular argument I have advanced, say about the death penalty or the substantial benefits of increased incarceration over the last 20 years, that you would like discuss via substantive argument, I shall be happy to engage you. Characterizations like "obnoxious" don't really get us anywhere.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 4, 2012 2:34:47 PM

Tim Holloway and Joe, not usually posters with whom I agree, seem to me to have thoughtful and insightful assessments here.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 4, 2012 2:43:34 PM

This is an interesting study. Perhaps we humans are wired to complacently oblige authority figures when there is a perceived benefit, regardless of costs.

Posted by: Family Violence Attorneys Austin | Jun 4, 2012 3:12:52 PM

This is interesting. Yesterday I spoke with a gentleman who had served 14 months in a state prison many years ago. It was a complicated conspiracy case and his defense expenses were in the ball park of a million dollars.

I can't explain the details, but his defense attorney convinced him to pled guilty to state charges that he was not guilty of in order to avoid an even more costly federal charges. The most disturbing thing is that the federal prosecutors dropped the charges for lack of evidence.

Posted by: beth | Jun 4, 2012 3:52:13 PM

On the contrary, I think it is Federalist who has the better insight in this case because rather than focus on the ethics of an academic study or this historical basis for the plea bargain, he asks the relevant questions: "We are often told that without punishment, people will take the law into their own hands [- i]s there a moral exception for prosecutors [and] police...?" "Would we say a dissident who escaped from a Chinese prison was bad if he or she killed a guard to get out? Well, in the case of prosecutorial abuse that convicts an innocent person (once again, assumed here), how are we any different than the Chinese government, vis a vis that one person?"

Our system has successfully removed virtually all checks on the power that police and prosecutors wield in our society with predictable results. For advocates of the status quo, debating academic ethics and pre-history are convenient diversions when the subject is 19 years of a person's life lost.

Posted by: C | Jun 4, 2012 5:07:49 PM

C --

There is nothing inconsistent, and much to value, in recognizing (1) that the system is capable of error, both in convicting the innocent and freeing the guilty, and that these errors are sometimes tragic and enraging; and (2) that ANY alternative system will also err (or if you think not, kindly name one that doesn't).

It's one-sided to the point of myopia simply to put up post after post about erroneous convictions without saying anything about how what percentage of total convictions they amount to, what role defense counsel has had in bringing them about, what the number of erroneous acquittals (or frivolous or lazy-prosecutor dismissals) have occurred, what the erroneously acquitted or dismissed defendant went on to do thus emboldened, and -- by far most importantly -- what tradeoff you would make in the present rules that would enhance the likelihood of reducing erroneous convictions without simultaneously, and to a socially dangerous extent, increasing the likelihood of increasing erroneous acquittals.

Honest and constructive debate simply cannot occur unless the competing sides are willing to acknowledge these tradeoff's and their costs. Just going bonkers over Mr. X, who was just freed after Y number of years of unjust imprisonment, is fine for emotive purposes, but says next to nothing about what changes we should make in social and legal policy.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 4, 2012 7:37:12 PM

defenseattorney & anon --

I disagree.

Bill Otis is pantload.

While CCDC sometimes has the subtlety of a sledgehammer, Bill Otis needs to be called out for his constant foulness. CCDC is on a quest. I, for one, want CCDC to keep it up.

Posted by: Vince Wright | Jun 4, 2012 7:57:00 PM

None of the lawyers here nor anywhere else have ever given a valid reason for prosecutor and judge immunity from torts. I can give you the justification for the Sovereign's immunity. The Sovereign speaks with the voice of God. That was the source of English sovereign immunity in the notebooks of Henry of Bratton. Not only unconstitutional because it promotes a religion, but also psychotic because it promotes a delusion. Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Cuckoo.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 4, 2012 8:39:34 PM

Well, we're really talking about plea agreements and the power of the prosecutor in determining the sentence. This is not really just a list of mistakes made by the defense or the prosecution. It is a discussion of whether or not our system could be improved to enhanse justice and ensure that the public respects those who enforce and prosecute the law.

Bill, I don't believe that we are the best that we can be, nor do I think that problems with the current system should not be examined and discussed. Clearly, there are many problems with the current system. Our system of prosecution and incarceration is enormously costly to taxpayers and also seems to have undermined respect for those public servants who are responsible.

Posted by: beth | Jun 4, 2012 8:44:48 PM

Vince Wright --

If you have anything resembling an argument to put forward, feel free.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 4, 2012 9:25:54 PM

i agree SC soveright immunity or any other is just nuts! Sorry it's based on a fraud!

Started in the deep deep past when leaders CLAIMED TO BE GOD!

god of course doesn't make mistakes they say! so what the leader said must be right!


well humanity swallowed that bullshit for a long long time.....then started to wise up!

then it became

The leader was DESCENDED FROM GOD!

again god does't make mistakes so what he says must be right!


again we swallowed it for a long long long time


then it went to the leader was APPOINTED BY GOD!

again god doesn't make mistakes....


Sorry in this country the last idiot who claimed to be appointed by god was ran out of boston back in the 1700's

What we have are EMPLOYEE'S sorry no employee of MINE has IMMUNITY FROM ME!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jun 4, 2012 9:39:30 PM

beth --

"It is a discussion of whether or not our system could be improved to enhanse justice and ensure that the public respects those who enforce and prosecute the law."

No disagreement there.

"Bill, I don't believe that we are the best that we can be, nor do I think that problems with the current system should not be examined and discussed."

No disagreement there either. Indeed, I have extensively discussed (here, on Crime and Consequences, before Congress, in op-eds and in various debates) our problems and what might be done. I'm quite sure, however, that the discussion will be more intelligent and more balanced if we discuss the things we have done right -- such as massively reducing the crime rate -- than if we stifle the range of exchange by talking only about what's wrong.

One reason for this, although not the only one, is that when you push the system in one direction, there will be effects elsewhere, both inside and in the broader world. If we do not examine what those effects are likely to be -- by, for example, looking at what a more rehabilitation-oriented system produced in the Sixties and Seventies -- we are just begging for trouble, in addition to being intellectually truncated.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 4, 2012 9:40:06 PM

SC --

For a discussion of the reasons for prosecutorial immunity, see Justice Powell's opinion for the Court in Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 US 409 (1976), available here, http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=424&invol=409

I might add there there were no dissenting votes. There was a concurrence, written by Justice White and joined by Brennan and Marshall. Their concurrence begins thusly:

"I concur in the judgment of the Court and in much of its reasoning. I agree with the Court that the gravamen of the complaint in this case is that the prosecutor knowingly used perjured testimony; and that a prosecutor is absolutely immune from suit for money damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for presentation of testimony later determined to have been false, where the presentation of such testimony is alleged to have been unconstitutional solely because the prosecutor did not believe it or should not have believed it to be true."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 4, 2012 9:50:54 PM

"...his energy and attention would be diverted from the pressing duty of enforcing the criminal law. "

This is the take home message of the common law tradition of immunity of judges, prosecutors, even legislators. Don't you think it amounts to an ipse dixit? I do appreciate their not using the voice of God line.

The public has voted otherwise. Say a prosecutor makes $50,000 a year, and Exxon $500 billion. The public had valued the product of the oil company as being 10 million time more valuable then the prosecution of crime. So Exxon should not be sued either to avoid having "...energy and attention would be diverted from the pressing duty of finding oil."

Although, the punitive nature of the prosecution qualifies it for strict liability, a professional standard of due care would be enough, and would end the moral intellectual, and policy justifications for violence against prosecutors. Violence is justified by formal logic. The contrapositive of a true proposition is always true. Tort liability is a substitute for violent revenge. Therefore immunity justifies violent revenge (If "A then B" is true, "not B then not A" is always true). These cases of incompetence and even of bad faith are strong anecdotal justification for ending immunity.

This is a presentation of the technical defense of civil suits against prosecutors. None survived the summary judgement motion stage.

http://www.talkleft.com/story/2007/6/17/16126/4532

I think you may agree, the defense is unfair and wrongheaded, albeit always successful.

Liability should extend to both false prosecutions and to failures to prosecute, wrongful discretion. Such liability would increase accuracy and deter misconduct. It would also shrink government, as liability tends to deter the entire economic segment, and not just the defendant. Those who want smaller government should consider increasing its liability, by repeal of the Eleventh Amendment, a seedy back room last minute attempt to rip off the bondholders of a state who was not paying its debt. So the Eleventh was in furtherance of a financial crime. It should be void for illegality.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 5, 2012 4:49:00 AM

"This shows the dark side of plea bargaining and commenter Daniel will be nodding."

Yes, I was nodding.

"Plea bargaining also lets many factually guilty people to serve much less time in prison. So, we need to determine -- and studies like this probably help -- where the ultimate balances lies."

There is no sense in which it is acceptable for an innocent person to be in prison and the trade-off being a guilty person gets a lesser sentence. If there is a balance to be struck it is between the innocent person being in jail and the guilty person being free. Your comment highlights the fact that dominance of plea bargains has resulted in the fact that most of the criminal law's mind is not invested in determining guilt or innocence but in determining what sentence will be imposed. That's ass-backwards. The first measuring stick is guilt or innocence.

"A form of it is also found in legislative contexts where each side gets less than they want, at times agreeing to something they oppose, since they think the risk of something much worse is there."

That's comparing apples to airliners. The political mode of truth seeking is not the same as the legal form of truth seeking. Bargaining happens all the time; that's not an cogent reply as to whether bargaining is the correct answer in this context.

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 5, 2012 12:56:12 PM

@SC

"There are 20 million Index felonies,"

Do you have an academic citation for this fact?

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 5, 2012 12:58:37 PM

@Daniel: Most reliable source of crime statistics, DOJ crime victim survey.

Method:

http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/NACJD/NCVS/

Results:

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf

Go to Table 1.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 5, 2012 3:30:08 PM

The reason for soverign immunity (and its derivative official immunity) is that ultimately the people on the hook are the taxpayers.

Government officials are not my employees but rather are OUR employees. If we make the government liable for its mistakes, that means that we the taxpayers have to come up with a way to pay for that judgment -- either by raising taxes or by cutting some other program.

Sovereign immunity can be waived by the government (and in some states has been) but that is a decision of the legislative branch (which in many states includes the voters by initiative and referendum). Since the legislative branch is either directly or indirectly the source of all causes of action, the legislature has the right to say that the voters will not be on the hook for mistakes of government employees. (While taxpayers are not necessarily on the hook for individual liability of government employees, granting official immunity is a "benefit" that makes accepting significant government positions more attractive to potential hirees, thereby allowing us to pay lower salaries.)

Admittedly, a decision to grant tort immunity means that some individual will eventually be screwed. But every decision that deviates from strict liability for injuries hurts some injured parties. While an argument can be made for waiving immunity, it does have a cost, and it is up to the voters to decide how they wish to balance those costs.

Posted by: TMM | Jun 5, 2012 4:35:46 PM

In 2005, Grand Traverse County's "Computer Cop" believed he found child porn on a CD-R in a cyberstalking case. Early 2006, Grand Traverse County prosecutors authorized child porn possession charges (4 & 7yrs) based on two videos originating from the internet. A local pediatrician opined they both had underage girls in the two videos. Defense countered one originated from a legal adult website based in the USA. The ONE other video could not be proven to satisfy the Affirmative Defense (18+yo). Prosecution pressed on in May of that year and motioned to add 20yr charge (bullying tactic) a few days before defendant caved-in to a plea of the single 4yr charge. I did 44 months in prison and after almost 2 years of online research, i recently identified the female, located her, and she affirmed she was at least 18 when the video was made. While i was appointed a plea-bargaining defender, my main issue is with the porn law and the practice of using age-guessing experts to convict on "youthful-looking" adult material.

Posted by: ohleegotscrewed | Jun 5, 2012 7:40:41 PM

TMM: Good substantive points, not involving psychotic delusions nor religion.

So far we have, the government time and effort is too valuable to be interrupted by litigation, and the taxpayer is the ultimate payer.

We showed the public values some corporate activity 10 million times more than prosecution.

The same is true for the taxpayer argument. All corporate costs are passed onto the customer or if not, the public is deprived of the corporate product when it goes out of business. The corporation is not even upset about being sued anymore, if it has been dealing with 10,000 lawsuits daily for decades. The theory of torts is that the user benefiting from the corporate product should pay a small tax to people injured by the corporation. So the public pays a hidden tax when buying a product, it can pay an open tax when the government is sued.

The immunity is self-dealt. The voters of a state voted to allow judges to be sued. The Supreme Court of the state held that vote violated the separation of powers, and overturned the voter approved legislation.

In law school, if you get a pain in the ass obsteperous student, who will not leave the prof alone, one tactic is to ask him to change sides and to argue against his own position. This is standard lawyer stuff. Prosecutors make the best defense attorneys, of course.

Here are two more arguments against liability for the sovereign.

1) Torts has never ever improved a product, nor ever ever promoted public safety. Only technology ever has. Why waste money, time, and effort to enrich lawyers, when the government should be advancing criminal law technology, to catch more bad guys, and to free more innocent people?

2) Torts represent an unauthorized form of industrial policy by know nothing judges. Liability shrinks the entire enterprise, not just deters the defendant. Torts will shrink the size of government, by defunding it, by intimidating it. Government is not inherently evil, but is a tool. Let's make government better. The first step is to exclude the criminal cult enterprise that runs it into the ground now. No more lawyers, no more Ivy indoctrinated America haters. Criminalize rent seeking, make it a capital crime. Execute lobbyists that obtain privileges for their rich clients, the clients and the legislators they paid off.

3) Finally, purge all feminists and other internal traitors in exchange for immunity. Clean up the act without getting sued.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 6, 2012 12:40:52 AM

TMM: The reason for soverign immunity (and its derivative official immunity) is that ultimately the people on the hook are the taxpayers. Government officials are not my employees but rather are OUR employees. If we make the government liable for its mistakes, that means that we the taxpayers have to come up with a way to pay for that judgment -- either by raising taxes or by cutting some other program.

Response: If the taxpayers do not want to foot the bill, they can always exercise their vote in a way that insures that the persons in the prosecutorialpositions adhere to the Constitution. If the taxpayers do not want taxes raised or programs cut to avoid paying judgments for prosecutorial misconduct, they can always elect prosecutors that do not break the law and do not hire assistants that do not break the law. I mean, how hard is it really to comply with MR 3.8 and Brady?

Posted by: C | Jun 6, 2012 12:41:48 PM

C --

The doctrine of sovereign immunity is, I believe, about as old as the doctrine of sovereignty itself. It did not survive all these years, and survive the transition from feudalism to democracy, for no reason.

And yes, it's easy to comply with Brady, which is why it's complied with almost uniformly. As I have said here before, however, and without contradiction, neither our system nor any alternative system has produced or is going to produce perfection.

That being the case, it will always be possible to post about this or that episode of prosecutorial misconduct, just as it will always be possible to post about this or that instance of defense bar outrages (e.g., Paul Bergrin or Lynne Stewart). This is why argument by anecdote properly has a bad name. The only sensible approach is to evaluate prosecutorial and defense bar misconduct against the backdrop of the huge number of cases that get processed. When that is done, neither side looks anywhere near as bad as it can be made to look just trumpeting The Really Outrageous Story of the Day.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 6, 2012 1:23:07 PM

oh i agree bill! but what looks bad and brings discrace on the justice system is the fact that while defense bar get's punished as shown by your OWN examples. Jack shit is done to DA's and those on the govt side of the equasion!


Sorry that's neither fair OR legal!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jun 6, 2012 9:29:55 PM

Bill: A repair shop fails to fix 90% of broken cars brought to it. When it does a repair, in 20% of cars, it does the wrong repair. You would agree, ripe for the salutary effects of torts. The criminal law is in such failure, that a remedy short of violence is absolutely necessary, and torts is one.

I understand we are hiring government to commit crimes on criminals on our behalf, imprisoning, killing, etc. A professional standard of due care would the just right standard, even though government activity qualifies for strict liability.

Like a fish swimming in it, you have no awareness of the air above, let alone massive land masses. But 20 million serious crimes a year is totally unacceptable, and massively damaging to our economy and civilization, especially for poor people. And that 20 million is a 40% reduction from the peaks in the 1980's.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 7, 2012 6:09:40 AM

"What also happens is that plea deals save a lot of time and expense"

-- What is this argument so frequently put forth?

Doing justice badly saves money on doing it right?!

Doesn't "doing no justice" have a penalty to society much greater than doing good justice, hence the reason we engage in "expensive" trials to obtain said justice?

How is a false confession, or the immunity of a guilty party, different than "no justice" -- if not actually worse, as it corrupts far more than just the criminal??

I do not buy the "plea bargains save money" argument. Not at all.

Maybe they "save time in an overburdenned system", but we would simply invest the neccessary funds into expanding that system, or -- shocking thought -- conclude that it was a waste of money.

No. Plea bargains use the sheer overwhelming mass of this supposedly overburdenned system to vastly greater efficiency for the benefit of those wielding that power, NOT the benefit of a society intent upon "Justice".

Posted by: Nope | Sep 25, 2013 12:53:02 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB