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Full-Text Articles in Law

Federal Guilty Pleas: Inequities, Indigence And The Rule 11 Process, Julian A. Cook Jan 2019

Federal Guilty Pleas: Inequities, Indigence And The Rule 11 Process, Julian A. Cook

Scholarly Works

In 2017 and 2018, the Supreme Court issued two little-noticed decisions—Lee v. United States and Class v. United States. While neither case captured the attention of the national media nor generated meaningful academic commentary, both cases are well deserving of critical examination for reasons independent of the issues presented to the Court. They deserve review because of a consequential shared fact; a fact representative of a commonplace, yet largely overlooked, federal court practice that routinely disadvantages the indigent (and disproportionately minority populations), and compromises the integrity of arguably the most consequential component of the federal criminal justice process. In ...


"Make Him An Offer He Can't Refuse"-- Mezzanatto Waivers As Lynchpin Of Prosecutorial Overreach, Christopher B. Mueller Jan 2017

"Make Him An Offer He Can't Refuse"-- Mezzanatto Waivers As Lynchpin Of Prosecutorial Overreach, Christopher B. Mueller

Articles

Plea bargaining is the dominant means of disposing of criminal charges in the United States, in both state and federal courts. This administrative mechanism has become a system that is grossly abusive of individual rights, leading to many well-known maladies of the criminal justice system, which include overcharging, overincarceration, convictions on charges that would likely fail at trial, and even conviction of “factually innocent” persons. Instrumental in the abuses of plea bargaining is the so-called Mezzanatto waiver, which takes its name from a 1995 Supreme Court decision that approved the practice of getting defendants to agree that anything they say ...


Informants & Cooperators, Daniel C. Richman Jan 2017

Informants & Cooperators, Daniel C. Richman

Faculty Scholarship

The police have long relied on informants to make critical cases, and prosecutors have long relied on cooperator testimony at trials. Still, concerns about these tools for obtaining closely held information have substantially increased in recent years. Reliability concerns have loomed largest, but broader social costs have also been identified. After highlighting both the value of informants and cooperators and the pathologies associated with them, this chapter explores the external and internal measures that can or should be deployed to regulate their use.


Plea Bargain Negotiations: Defining Competence Beyond Lafler And Frye, Cynthia Alkon Jan 2016

Plea Bargain Negotiations: Defining Competence Beyond Lafler And Frye, Cynthia Alkon

Faculty Scholarship

In the companion cases of Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye the U.S. Supreme Court held that there is a right to effective assistance of counsel during plea bargaining. However, the Court defined effective assistance of counsel in only one narrow phase of plea bargaining: the client counseling phase. The Court said it would not look more broadly at the negotiation process itself as "[b]argaining is, by its nature, defined to a substantial degree by personal style.” This statement indicates that the Court does not fully understanding developments in the field of negotiation over the last thirty ...


Disciplinary Regulation Of Prosecutors As A Remedy For Abuses Of Prosecutorial Discretion: A Descriptive And Normative Analysis, Samuel J. Levine, Bruce A. Green Jan 2016

Disciplinary Regulation Of Prosecutors As A Remedy For Abuses Of Prosecutorial Discretion: A Descriptive And Normative Analysis, Samuel J. Levine, Bruce A. Green

Scholarly Works

Although courts have traditionally relied primarily on prosecutors’ individual self-restraint and institutional self-regulation to curb prosecutors’ excesses and redress their wrongdoing, aspects of prosecutors’ conduct can be regulated externally as well. One potential source of external regulation is professional discipline. As lawyers, prosecutors are regulated by state courts, which oversee processes for disciplining lawyers who engage in misconduct. In responding to prosecutors’ wrongdoing, courts generally express a preference for professional discipline over civil liability, which is limited by principles of absolute and qualified immunity. Likewise, courts favor professional discipline over adjudicatory remedies such as reversal of criminal convictions or suppression ...


Conviction By Prior Impeachment, Anna Roberts Jan 2016

Conviction By Prior Impeachment, Anna Roberts

Faculty Publications

Impeaching the testimony of criminal defendants through the use of their prior convictions is a practice that is triply flawed. (1) it relies on assumptions belied by data; (2) it has devastating impacts on individual trials; and (3) it contributes to many of the criminal justice system's most urgent dysfunctions. Yet critiques of the practice are often paired with resignation. Abolition is thought too ambitious because this practice is widespread, long-standing, and beloved by prosecutors. Widespread does not mean universal, however, and a careful focus on the states that have abolished this practice reveals arguments that overcame prosecutorial resistance ...


Plea Bargaining And Disclosure In Germany And The United States: Comparative Lessons, Jenia I. Turner Jan 2016

Plea Bargaining And Disclosure In Germany And The United States: Comparative Lessons, Jenia I. Turner

Faculty Scholarship

This article analyzes recent trends in plea bargaining and disclosure of evidence in Germany and the United States. Over the last two decades, a number of U.S. jurisdictions have adopted rules requiring broader and earlier discovery in criminal cases. This development reflects a growing consensus that, in a system that resolves most of its cases through guilty pleas, early and extensive disclosure is necessary to ensure fair and informed outcomes.

The introduction of broader discovery in criminal cases in the United States aligns our rules more closely with German rules on access to the investigative file. At the same ...


Two Models Of Pre-Plea Discovery In Criminal Cases: An Empirical Comparison, Jenia I. Turner, Allison D. Redlich Jan 2016

Two Models Of Pre-Plea Discovery In Criminal Cases: An Empirical Comparison, Jenia I. Turner, Allison D. Redlich

Faculty Scholarship

Our criminal justice system resolves most of its cases through plea bargains. Yet the U.S. Supreme Court has not required that any evidence, even exculpatory or impeachment evidence, be provided to the defense before a guilty plea. As a result, state rules on pre-plea discovery differ widely. While some jurisdictions follow an “open-file” model, imposing relatively broad discovery obligations on prosecutors early in the criminal process, others follow a more restrictive, “closed-file” model and allow the prosecution to avoid production of critical evidence either entirely or until very near the time of trial. Though the advantages and disadvantages of ...


Revisiting The Mansions And Gatehouses Of Criminal Procedure: Reflections On Yale Kamisar's Famous Essay, William T. Pizzi Jan 2015

Revisiting The Mansions And Gatehouses Of Criminal Procedure: Reflections On Yale Kamisar's Famous Essay, William T. Pizzi

Articles

In 1965, Yale Kamisar published a now-famous essay entitled, Equal Justice in the Gatehouses and Mansions of American Criminal Procedure: From Powell to Gideon, from Escobedo to... to make his case that the Court needed to take action to protect citizens in interrogation rooms, Kamisar used the powerful metaphors of the gatehouse and the mansion to contrast the treatment received in interrogation rooms in the back of police stations with the way defendants were treated when they arrived at courthouses where the power of the state was restricted and they had strong constitutional protections.

On its 50th anniversary since publication ...


An Overlooked Key To Reversing Mass Incarceration: Reforming The Law To Reduce Prosecutorial Power In Plea Bargaining, Cynthia Alkon Jan 2015

An Overlooked Key To Reversing Mass Incarceration: Reforming The Law To Reduce Prosecutorial Power In Plea Bargaining, Cynthia Alkon

Faculty Scholarship

The need to “do something” about mass incarceration is now widely recognized. When President Obama announced plans to reform federal criminal legislation, he focused on the need to change how we handle non-violent drug offenders and parole violators. Previously, former Attorney General Eric Holder announced policies to make federal prosecutors “smart on crime.” These changes reflect, as President Obama noted, the increasing bipartisan consensus on the need for reform and the need to reduce our incarceration rates. However, proposals about what to reform, such as President Obama’s, tend to focus on some parts of criminal sentencing and on prosecutorial ...


What's Law Got To Do With It? Plea Bargaining Reform After Lafler And Frye, Cynthia Alkon Jan 2015

What's Law Got To Do With It? Plea Bargaining Reform After Lafler And Frye, Cynthia Alkon

Faculty Scholarship

This symposium article responds to the question, what's left of the law in the wake of ADR? The article addresses this question in the context of the criminal justice system in the United States. As with civil cases, few criminal cases go to trial. Negotiated agreements through plea bargaining have been the predominate form of case resolution since at least the mid-twentieth century. Plea bargaining, as with other forms of alternative dispute resolution, is an informal process that operates largely outside the formal legal system. Plea bargains are rarely negotiated on the record in open court. Instead, they are ...


Systemic Barriers To Effective Assistance Of Counsel In Plea Bargaining, Rodney J. Uphoff, Peter A. Joy Jul 2014

Systemic Barriers To Effective Assistance Of Counsel In Plea Bargaining, Rodney J. Uphoff, Peter A. Joy

Faculty Publications

In a trio of recent cases, Padilla v. Kentucky, Missouri v. Frye, and Lafler v. Cooper, the U.S. Supreme Court has focused its attention on defense counsel's pivotal role during the plea bargaining process . At the same time that the Court has signaled its willingness to consider ineffective assistance of counsel claims at the plea stage, prosecutors are increasingly requiring defendants to sign waivers that include waiving all constitutional and procedural errors, even unknown ineffective assistance of counsel claims such as those that proved successful in Padilla and Frye. Had Jose Padilla and Galin Frye been forced to ...


Marked!, Aya Gruber Jan 2014

Marked!, Aya Gruber

Articles

No abstract provided.


The Constitutionality Of Negotiated Criminal Judgments In Germany, Thomas Weigend, Jenia I. Turner Jan 2014

The Constitutionality Of Negotiated Criminal Judgments In Germany, Thomas Weigend, Jenia I. Turner

Faculty Scholarship

In a long-awaited judgment, the German Constitutional Court in 2013 upheld the constitutionality of the 2009 German law authorizing the negotiation of criminal judgments between the court and the parties. In this Article, we provide background on recent developments in “plea bargaining” law and practice in Germany and offer a critique of the Court’s decision.

The Court attempted to rein in negotiated judgments by giving the statute a literal reading, emphasizing the limitations it places on negotiations, and strictly prohibiting any consensual disposition outside the statutory framework. The Court builds its judgment on the notion that the search for ...


Limits On The Search For Truth In Criminal Procedure: A Comparative View, Jenia I. Turner Jan 2014

Limits On The Search For Truth In Criminal Procedure: A Comparative View, Jenia I. Turner

Faculty Scholarship

Across diverse legal traditions, the search for truth is a basic function of the criminal process. Uncovering the truth about the charged crime is regarded as an essential precondition to achieving justice, enforcing criminal law, and legitimating the verdict. Yet while truthseeking is a broadly accepted goal in the criminal process, no system seeks the truth at all costs. The search for truth must on occasion yield to considerations related to efficiency, democratic participation, and protection of individual rights.

Different jurisdictions around the world show different preferences with respect to the tradeoffs between these values and the search for truth ...


Constitutionally Tailoring Punishment, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Dec 2013

Constitutionally Tailoring Punishment, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Since the turn of the century, the Supreme Court has begun to regulate non-capital sentencing under the Sixth Amendment in the Apprendi line of cases (requiring jury findings of fact to justify sentence enhancements) as well as under the Eighth Amendment in the Miller and Graham line of cases (forbidding mandatory life imprisonment for juvenile defendants). Though both lines of authority sound in individual rights, in fact they are fundamentally about the structures of criminal justice. These two seemingly disparate lines of doctrine respond to structural imbalances in non-capital sentencing by promoting morally appropriate punishment judgments that are based on ...


The Duties Of Non-Judicial Actors In Ensuring Competent Negotiation, Stephanos Bibas Jul 2013

The Duties Of Non-Judicial Actors In Ensuring Competent Negotiation, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay, written for a symposium at Duquesne Law School entitled Plea Bargaining After Lafler and Frye, offers thoughts on how lawyers could learn from doctors’ experience in catching and preventing medical errors and aviation experts’ learning from airplane crashes and near misses. It also expresses skepticism about the efficacy of judges’ ex post review of ineffective assistance of counsel, but holds out more hope that public-defender organizations, bar associations, probation officers, sentencing judges, sentencing commissions, and line and supervisory prosecutors can do much more to prevent misunderstanding and remedy ineffective bargaining advice in the first place.


Bulk Misdemeanor Justice, Stephanos Bibas Feb 2013

Bulk Misdemeanor Justice, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This short essay responds to Alexandra Natapoff’s article Misdemeanors, which shines a much-needed spotlight on the mass production of criminal justice and injustice in millions of low-level cases. The prime culprit in Natapoff’s story is the hidden, informal discretion that police officers enjoy to arrest, charge, and effect convictions, abetted by prosecutors’ and judges’ abdication and defense counsel’s absence or impotence. The roots of the problem she identifies, I argue, go all the way down to the system’s professionalization and mechanization. Given the magnitude of the problem, Natapoff’s solutions are surprisingly half-hearted, masking the deeper ...


Justice Kennedy's Sixth Amendment Pragmatism, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2013

Justice Kennedy's Sixth Amendment Pragmatism, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay, written as part of a symposium on the evolution of Justice Kennedy’s jurisprudence, surveys three areas of criminal procedure under the Sixth Amendment: sentence enhancements, the admissibility of hearsay, and the regulation of defense counsel’s responsibilities. In each area, Justice Kennedy has been a notable voice of pragmatism, focusing not on bygone analogies to the eighteenth century but on a hard-headed appreciation of the twenty-first. He has shown sensitivity to modern criminal practice, prevailing professional norms, and practical constraints, as befits a Justice who came to the bench with many years of private-practice experience. His touchstone ...


Effective Remedies For Ineffective Assistance, Jenia I. Turner Jan 2013

Effective Remedies For Ineffective Assistance, Jenia I. Turner

Faculty Scholarship

In two recent cases, Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, the Supreme Court affirmed that criminal defendants have a right to competent counsel during plea bargaining. The Court also established that the injury caused by ineffective assistance is not mooted by the subsequent conviction of the defendant at trial. The cases were broadly celebrated for clarifying that the Sixth Amendment applies fully to plea bargaining — the standard process by which our justice system resolves criminal cases today.

The most significant and surprising part of Lafler, however, was the Court’s holding concerning remedies. The Court held that trial courts ...


The Right To Plea Bargain With Competent Counsel After Cooper And Frye: Is The Supreme Court Making The Ordinary Criminal Process Too Long, Too Expensive, And Unpredictable In Pursuit Of Perfect Justice, Bruce A. Green Jan 2013

The Right To Plea Bargain With Competent Counsel After Cooper And Frye: Is The Supreme Court Making The Ordinary Criminal Process Too Long, Too Expensive, And Unpredictable In Pursuit Of Perfect Justice, Bruce A. Green

Faculty Scholarship

In Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of criminal defendants who were deprived of a favorable plea offer because of their lawyers’ professional lapses. In dissent, Justice Scalia complained that “[t]he ordinary criminal process has become too long, too expensive, and unpredictable,” because of the Court’s criminal procedure jurisprudence; that plea bargaining is “the alternative in which...defendants have sought relief,” and that the two new decisions on the Sixth Amendment right to effective representation in plea bargaining would add to the burden on the criminal process. This essay examines ...


Plea Bargaining And The Right To The Effective Assistance Of Counsel: Where The Rubber Hits The Road In Capital Cases, John H. Blume Dec 2012

Plea Bargaining And The Right To The Effective Assistance Of Counsel: Where The Rubber Hits The Road In Capital Cases, John H. Blume

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Incompetent Plea Bargaining And Extrajudicial Reforms, Stephanos Bibas Nov 2012

Incompetent Plea Bargaining And Extrajudicial Reforms, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Last year, in Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, a five-to-four majority of the Supreme Court held that incompetent lawyering that causes a defendant to reject a plea offer can constitute deficient performance, and the resulting loss of a favorable plea bargain can constitute cognizable prejudice, under the Sixth Amendment. This commentary, published as part of the Harvard Law Review’s Supreme Court issue, analyzes both decisions. The majority and dissenting opinions almost talked past each other, reaching starkly different conclusions because they started from opposing premises: contemporary and pragmatic versus historical and formalist. Belatedly, the Court noticed that ...


Taming Negotiated Justice, Stephanos Bibas Jun 2012

Taming Negotiated Justice, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After four decades of neglecting laissez-faire plea bargaining, the Supreme Court got it right. In Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, the Court recognized that the Sixth Amendment regulates plea bargaining. Thus, the Court held that criminal defendants can challenge deficient advice that causes them to reject favorable plea bargains and receive heavier sentences after trial. Finally, the Court has brought law to the shadowy plea-bargaining bazaar.

Writing in dissent, Justice Scalia argued that the majority’s opinion “opens a whole new boutique of constitutional jurisprudence (‘plea-bargaining law’).” To which I say: it is about time the Court developed ...


Prosecutors And Bargaining In Weak Cases: A Comparative View, Jenia I. Turner Jan 2012

Prosecutors And Bargaining In Weak Cases: A Comparative View, Jenia I. Turner

Faculty Scholarship

One of the most controversial uses of prosecutorial discretion in plea bargaining concerns cases involving weak evidence of guilt. When a prosecutor bargains about the charges or even the facts in a case with weak evidence, at least three problems may arise. First, if the charge bargain is generous, it may coerce an innocent defendant to plead guilty. Second, such a bargain may let a guilty defendant off too easily, thus disserving the public and victim’s interests. Third, if the parties bargain about the facts, the result may distort the truth of the case.

In this book chapter, I ...


Preplea Disclosure Of Impeachment Evidence, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2012

Preplea Disclosure Of Impeachment Evidence, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Response to R. Michael Cassidy, Plea Bargaining, Discovery, and the Intractable Problem of Impeachment Disclosures, 64 Vand. L. Rev. 1429 (2011)


Fairness And The Willingness To Accept Plea Bargain Offers, Avishalom Tor Jan 2010

Fairness And The Willingness To Accept Plea Bargain Offers, Avishalom Tor

Journal Articles

In contrast with the common assumption in the plea bargaining literature, we show fairness-related concerns systematically impact defendants' preferences and judgments. In the domain of preference, innocents are less willing to accept plea offers (WTAP) than guilty defendants and all defendants reject otherwise attractive offers that appear comparatively unfair. We also show that defendants who are uncertain of their culpability exhibit egocentrically biased judgments and reject plea offers as if they were innocent. The article concludes by briefly discussing the normative implications of these findings.


Can Prosecutors Bluff? Brady V. Maryland And Plea Bargaining, John G. Douglass Apr 2007

Can Prosecutors Bluff? Brady V. Maryland And Plea Bargaining, John G. Douglass

Law Faculty Publications

The author discusses the symbolic value of the Brady rule in the pretrial context in the U.S. criminal justice system. Brady's symbolic power remains stronger than its corrective power in post-trial motions. It serves as a constitutional reminder to prosecutors because they cannot serve as architects of unfairness. Most prosecutors disclose more Brady material in pretrial discovery than the constitutional rule actually demands. This indicates that prosecutors can bluff.


American Buffalo: Vanishing Acquittals And The Gradual Extinction Of The Federal Criminal Trial Lawyer, Frank O. Bowman Iii Jan 2007

American Buffalo: Vanishing Acquittals And The Gradual Extinction Of The Federal Criminal Trial Lawyer, Frank O. Bowman Iii

Faculty Publications

This essay is an invited response to Professor Ronald Wright's impressive study of the fact that the acquittal rate in federal criminal trials is declining even faster than the rate of trials themselves, Trial Distortion and the End of Innocence in Federal Criminal Justice, 154 U. PA. L. REV. 79 (2005). The essay concurs with Professor Wright's conclusion that one significant factor driving down both federal trial and acquittal rates is the government's use of the markedly increased bargaining leverage afforded to prosecutors by the post-1987 federal sentencing system consisting of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines interacting ...


"I Ain't Takin' No Plea": The Challenges In Counseling Young People Facing Serious Time, Abbe Smith Jan 2007

"I Ain't Takin' No Plea": The Challenges In Counseling Young People Facing Serious Time, Abbe Smith

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Criminal defendants daily entrust their liberty to the skill of their lawyers. The consequences of the lawyer’s decisions fall squarely upon the defendant. There is nothing untoward in this circumstance. To the contrary, the lawyer as the defendant’s representative is at the core of our adversary process.

As practicing lawyers know, interviewing and counseling are at the heart of legal representation. This is what lawyers do, even trial lawyers: we talk with and advise clients. As criminal lawyers know, the decision whether to go to trial is “the most important single decision” a client faces, and requires wise ...