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March 1, 2007

Plea Bargaining: Deal or No Deal

On the CrimProf listserve this morning, Wayne State Prof. David Moran had this great comment about plea bargaining that he graciously allowed me to post here:

After teaching a Crim Pro class this morning about plea bargaining, I was suddenly struck by the thought that for many defendants, the plea bargaining process is very much like the game show, "Deal or No Deal." (If you haven't seen the show, you can stop reading).

Like a contestant on the show, the defendant begins with a case with a highly uncertain value.  As pretrial motions and discovery unfold, the defendant learns information that changes the expected value of her case. As the value of her case changes, the prosecutor makes offers whose values reflect those changes, and the defendant receives advice about whether to accept those offers from her family and friends (and that advice is often really, really bad).  Ultimately, she almost always accepts an offer instead of going all the way and opening her own case (going to trial).

I really wish I had thought of this analogy before today's class because a telephone hidden under the podium rang in the middle of my class (it turned out to be a robocall from a home contractor).  If I had thought of the analogy before, I could have pretended that the call was from The Banker.

March 1, 2007 at 01:25 PM | Permalink


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