Showing posts from September, 2012

WSJ Article Discusses Prof. Dervan's Research

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent feature article today about plea bargaining in the federal criminal justice system.  In mid June, under a deal with federal prosecutors, Kenneth Kassab was on the verge of pleading guilty to illegally transporting thousands of pounds of explosives when he changed his mind. A week later, he was acquitted by a federal jury.  Though Mr. Kassab maintained his innocence, he said in an interview that he had been prepared to plead guilty to avoid the risk of possibly decades in prison... The entire WSJ article can be accessed here . Along with the feature piece, the Wall Street Journal wrote a second insert article regarding the new plea bargaining study from myself and Professor Vanessa Edkins previously mentioned on this blog - see here . Two university professors last year did an experiment to explore one of the more controversial questions of criminal law: How often do innocent defendants plead guilty to crimes to avoid the risk

Vote for Implementing Plea Bargaining Justly - Link Below

Each year HiiL, a research and development institute for the justice sector, holds the Innovating Justice Awards. According to their website, "The Innovating Justice Awards are designed to stimulate innovations in the justice sector. Rule of Law professionals can identify the most promising developments in the field. Innovators are motivated to improve and to apply their innovations across borders. Nominees and applicants will be able to share their setbacks, successes and best practices." This year, my innovative idea entitled "Implementing Plea Bargaining Justly" has been nominated for most innovative idea. The introductory paragraph of the innovation is reprinted below. Plea bargaining has become a globalised phenomenon due to growing numbers of prosecutions and constrained judicial budgets. Each year, new countries explore the implementation of plea bargaining as a remedy for their burdened criminal justice systems. Unfortunately, plea bargaining is currently

New Article on Plea Bargaining and Innocence to be Published in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology

Professor Dervan's new article, written with Prof. Vanessa Edkins and entitled  The Innocent Defendant’s Dilemma: An Innovative Empirical Study of Plea Bargaining’s Innocence Problem, will be published in volume 103 of the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology . 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. B

Plea Bargains and Appellate Waivers

Professor Berman's Sentencing Law and Policy Blog has a link to an article in the Denver Post discussing a federal judge's rejection of a plea agreement because it contained a waiver of appellate review.  Click here to see Professor Berman's post.  Click here to see the Denver Post article.  The New York Times has also weighed in on the case.  In an editorial, the paper stated, "An important element of justice is missing even when the defendant and the government believe a plea bargain is fair and when an appeal waiver is narrow so the defendant can appeal about certain specified issues."  The editorial went on to state that where appellate waivers are permitted, "Our system of pleas then looks more like a system of railroading." Earlier this year, an opinion for the Supreme Court by Justice Anthony Kennedy noted a stunning and often overlooked reality of the American legal process: a vast majority of criminal cases — 97 percent of federal cases