Friday, March 16, 2012

Crash the System

An article in the New York Times last weekend argued that every defendant should take their case to trial.  The ultimate goal is to encourage reform to a system viewed as broken.  The writer argues that officials would see the criminal justice system grind to a halt and demand reform.

The article leans heavy against prosecutors, saying that over 90% of defendants waive their constitutional rights and plead guilty before trial. It insinuates that this happens because the system forces innocent people to plead guilty.

I've discussed plea bargaining before.  I am not in the business of convicting innocent people.  I abhor the idea.  I am not in the business of prosecuting cases when the police violated constitutional rights.  A prosecutor's first responsibility is to seek justice.  That means justice for all parties, the people of the state we work for, the victims, and the accused.

My office's plea bargain policies are based on a thorough investigation of the case. If we cannot prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, it does not get indicted.  Trials happen for a number of reasons.  The defendant believes they committed the crime, but had a legal reason to do so (self-defense).  The defendant     didn't do it. The defendant has nothing to lose because there is no offer.

If each defendant exercised their right to a jury trial, the system wouldn't crash. It would just slow. Cases that take a year to get to trial will now take three. Costs would increase because more judges, prosecutors, and attorneys are required.

The only ones I can see suffering are the victims and defendants. The victims suffer because justice would be delayed. Defendants would suffer for two reasons. First, they would have rejected any plea offer with a lower sentence. After trial, the sentences are usually higher because the judge has heard all the evidence. Second, they may also remain in jail for years while they await a trial. I can't imagine waiting in jail for five years for a jury to acquit me.

I am obviously biased in this argument. I do agree that many parts of the system need reform. Trying to delay an already arduous system isn't the answer.


  1. I totally agree with you. I really feel like there is a place for plea bargains and yes, both victims and defendants will have to spend even more torturous time waiting for trial. Not to mention how costly trials are. Obviously not every defendant should get a plea bargain and some cases should absolutely go to trial but to me that's part of the prosecutor's job--like you said, to make a thorough investigation and decide what is best for all concerned.

  2. There is a special place in hell for prosecutors.

  3. You know well enough that the career and the conivtion rate of a prosecutor comes long before justice or constitutional rights. Anthony Graves, Michale Morton, Madison Hobley, Brandon Moon, and many others. Come on and deny that you and your regard defendants as disposable casualties, not just once but over and over again.

  4. My career is not worth putting a man I know to be innocent in jail. Has an innocent man been convicted in this country? Too many times, unfortunately. Which is why the Innocence Project and others like it should be lauded and funded.

    Disposable casualties? Special place in hell? Can't say I agree with either.

  5. "My career is not worth putting a man I know to be innocent in jail. "

    How many people have you prosecuted for exercising their right to property (drugs)? How many people have you prosecuted for exercising their right to keep and bear arms?

    Every single one of those people were innocent of the crime you prosecuted them for as exercising a right is not a crime - not even if the legislature, executive, and judicial branches conspire to deny that these rights are rights.

    "A prosecutor's first responsibility is to seek justice. "

    You shouldn't use big words, such as "justice", which you do not understand.

    "If each defendant exercised their right to a jury trial, the system wouldn't crash. It would just slow."

    I see your logic and reason are consistently weak. If EACH defendant were to exercise their right to a jury trial it would bankrupt the system, in terms of all resources not just money. The math is obvious. You can't increase trials by more than ten times. You can't increase the number of people in jail and prison with those numbers. And you can't increase the length of each sentence. You've already reached the practical limit of the police state - you can't grow it anymore. As our country's economy and wealth continues to decline your pool of resources to loot to fund your totalitarianism will decline. It ain't ever gonna get any better for you tyrants. It's all downhill from 2008 on.

    "Second, they may also remain in jail for years while they await a trial."

    You don't get it because you are used to spending other people's money and have no regard for it's scarcity. Every person who sits in jail for that purpose means someone else isn't sitting in jail, or else you are raising taxes and alienating your victims even more. The anti-plea bargaining movement is a true grassroots movement, as it becomes popular to refuse to sanction ones victimization you are going to anger even the pro "tough on crime" people with the tax rates you are going to have to charge to pay for it.

    "The victims suffer because justice would be delayed."

    What about the victims who suffer because of your "justice"?

    "Trying to delay an already arduous system isn't the answer. "

    We aren't trying to delay the system. We are trying to destroy it. Not with guns, bombs, or any form of violence or crime. We are trying to destroy it by exercising our rights. You should be very afraid - we can now communicate and organize and educate ourselves about the true meaning, purpose, principles, functions, spirit and letter of the law.

    If I become financially successful I plan on establishing a non-profit to pay for people to go to trial for drug and gun "crimes". If it's legal I'll even pay them a bonus if they are forced to serve time in a cage for exercising the same rights our forefathers exercised. And if you don't mind sharing free legal advice with a critic and opponent - is that legal?

    1. I appreciate the comments and always look forward to the opposing viewpoints and arguments.

      Anyone agree or disagree with A Critic?

    2. "I appreciate the comments and always look forward to the opposing viewpoints and argument"

      You are too good for your job. That sort of mindset, where you listen to your critics and consider opposing views and even publish them, is not a skillset that will help you enforce the dictates of the legislature. I applaud you for it, but you might want to consider a more honest line of work better suited to you, although if you remain in your current position you might be able to serve as a Schindler of sorts if you study and understand what it is that you are working for.

      If you want to understand my mindset better I recommend reading "Political Ponerology" by Andrzej M. Lobaczewski. The core problem humanity faces is that psychopaths have always dominated politics and governments and they are the ones responsible for controlling the state and our society. This book also would help you better understand the psychopathic defendants you do happen to prosecute. The other angle to take is to study the legal history of liberty and the rule of law and due process and rights et cetera.

      I despise your profession but I admire you as an individual. Kudos to you, I doubt one in a thousand prosecutors is your equal.

    3. Thank you for the compliments. I've done and continue to do legal history research. I'll add the recommended reading to my list.

      This blog is about understanding a prosecutor's role, job, and point of view, in addition to providing information. Honest debate from opposing sides moves society forward.

    4. "I've done and continue to do legal history research."

      Beware of "expertisis", that affliction in which a deep and broad knowledge base obscures the first principles of your chosen field.

      For constitutional law I recommend Jon Roland's pieces scattered about if you haven't seen them. He does a great job putting together a vast number of sources explaining the fundamentals of law that I don't believe they teach in law school anymore. His treatise on the legal theory of the right to keep and bear arms is particularly well done - I wish your state legislators were able to read and comprehend it and apply its lessons.

      I reckon you must have access to a law library or two and to other resources but the Constitutional Law Library on that site likely has some obscure references easily missed or not included in traditional collections.

      "Honest debate from opposing sides moves society forward."

      After a lifetime of hearing only "I'm tough on crime" and "Think of the children" from prosecutors that is amazingly refreshing. My childhood and family were destroyed due to prosecutors, judges, and cops with that sad perspective. Thanks for not conforming to the stereotype of the American prosecutor!

  6. If a person accused of a crime, but still innocent in the eyes of the law, sits in a jail cell waiting on a trial under the exact conditions that their cellmate, who is being punished, where is the justice in that? Aren't they being punished, while innocent, just like the convicted?

    I'd love to see a study of what making a felon out of a citizen costs the country. Our local prosecutors churn out felons like mad- (they don't care about innocence or justice, only their conviction rate- they plainly admit it.) Wonder what the dollar impact over a lifetime is for a person caught with enough drugs, guns, et to reduce their status to felon. Wouldn't that be interesting to know?

  7. Is the argument that no person, no matter the circumstances, should be held on bail pending the outcome of the trial?

    There are studies of the cost of incarceration over a person's lifetime like this from Connecticut

    I don't know of any about the cost of a felony conviction. That would be interesting to know.

  8. I for one agree with The Critic. I have watched prosecutors at work and how they love to chew up and spit out the guy with a public defender or an inexperienced lawyer. The love a defendant who has never had a run-in with the law and doesn't know how the system works. In my opinion, the majority of prosecutors care not one whit about justice and everything about convictions. I've seen it happen too many times. I have lost all faith in our so-called justice system. I call it a court system. There is little justice to be found in any courtroom in this land. There might be one in ten honest prosecutors, but I think that is an overestimate.

  9. don't let the ad hominem attacks above discourage you; this blog is great...keep up the good fight!

  10. Wow, lots of bitter people here spewing generalized globalizations and stereotypes.

  11. I had to find out first hand how "wonderful" our Justice system is. I have lost complete faith in all of it. Anyone who has not had the misfortune of being targeted by the Federal prosecutor, you have no idea what is going on. God help you if you are. Once you are targeted, you are guilty because you have to be.

    Political personal gain, wins vs losses are all that matters to them now. You, the accused are not a person but a number. You would be fighting a monster that has unlimited money, sway and political power. They will make you out to whatever they want. I am a war time veteran, with NO criminal history and I am accused of business crimes with no victims. Not only am I innocent, I am made to be seen as a monster.

    They have ruined my name, my business, my family and everything I have ever done. They have already won before I even go to trial. Then came the threats to plead and if I didnt how bad it would be for me. I am still fighting today. There are times as strong as I think I am, I want to cave and just lie and plea. Prosecutors are not the good guys of old. They are the dirtiest, most unethical, lying, dirty people on this planet.

    Justice is NOT what they care about any longer and I have yet to meet one that even remotely believes like the OP here does.... Once my ordeal is over, I will leave this Country and renounce my verteranship. I can not believe I gave my blood, sweat and tears to a Country that destroys it's own citizens without any care to them... I am broken, saddened and beyond angry.....