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2009

Criminal Law; Plea Bargaining; Law Profession

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Signaling And Plea Bargaining's Innocence Problem, Russell D. Covey Jan 2009

Signaling And Plea Bargaining's Innocence Problem, Russell D. Covey

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The dominant theoretical model of plea bargaining predicts that, under conditions of full information and rational choice, criminal cases should uniformly be settled through plea bargaining. That prediction holds for innocent and guilty defendants alike. Because it is perfectly rational for innocent defendants to plead guilty, plea bargaining might be said to have an "innocence problem." Plea bargaining's innocence problem is, at bottom, the result of a signaling defect. Innocent defendants lacking verifiable innocence claims are pooled together with guilty defendants who falsely proclaim innocence. As a result, both groups of defendants are treated similarly at trial and in ...