Showing posts from 2016

US to Assist Jamaica with Introduction of Bargained Justice

According to the Jamaica Observer , the U.S. State Department has agreed to assist Jamaica in introducing bargained justice into its criminal justice system.  From the article: The justice minister said that changes are to be made to the Criminal Justice (Plea Negotiations and Agreement) Act in order to make the legislation more effective and to speed up the pace at which justice is delivered to Jamaicans. The Act, which was introduced in 2006 and amended in 2010, allows individuals accused of crimes to plead guilty and give testimony or information in return for a reduced penalty. Minister Chuck explained that the amendments will, among other things, allow for the defence counsel to be a part of the plea bargaining process and to negotiate with the prosecutor and judge regarding the sentence to be imposed. “If the accused knows that following a trial he can receive a sentence of 10 or 15 years, and he also knows that his defence counsel can bargain with the judge and get five year

New York Times Article on the Vanishing Trial by Jury

The  New York Times  published an article earlier this year entitled Trial by Jury, a Hallowed American Right, Is Vanishing . It is well worth a read. The piece examines the rarity of trials at the federal level and includes observations from some of the country's most prominent judges. From the opening of the article: The criminal trial ended more than two and a half years ago, but Judge Jesse M. Furman can still vividly recall the case. It stands out, not because of the defendant or the subject matter, but because of its rarity: In his four-plus years on the bench in Federal District Court in Manhattan, it was his only criminal jury trial. He is far from alone. Click here for the entire article.

Juveniles and Plea Bargaining

NPR has an interesting story about juvenile defendants lacking legal advice and often being urged to plead guilty.   From the beginning of the piece: Everybody knows when you are accused of a crime, you get a lawyer. But in practice, that is not the case for thousands of kids. The Justice Department says about half the young people locked up in detention facilities never had an attorney. And now, a new report finds that even when juveniles do get legal advice, it often comes from lawyers who urge them to plead guilty. Click here to listen to the entire NPR story. 

Professor Dervan's Ted Talk-Inspired Presentation at the Enforcement Maze Conference

In May of 2016, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform held a day-long symposium entitled The Enforcement Maze: Over-Criminalizing American Enterprise .  Here is the description from the NACDL website: "The day-long symposium featured key leaders from industry, academy, law, and policy across the political spectrum. Together they addressed the rise of overcriminalization, the inappropriate criminalizing of civil and regulatory matters, why laws need criminal intent requirements, fundamental flaws with the plea bargaining process, criminal discovery abuses and inadequacies of the grand jury process, as well as the use of certain pressures associated with enforcement against business and corporate individuals. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte gave the morning keynote address; keynote lunch address was given by former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden; and Senator Orrin Hatch gave closing r

Prof. Dervan Receives Grant to Study Plea Bargaining in the US, Japan, and Korea

My colleagues, Dr. Vanessa Edkins and Prof. Andrew Pardieck, and I were pleased to receive a grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership earlier this summer to study plea bargaining in the United States, Japan, and Korea.  As part of that grant, we traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Seoul last month to meet with our co-investigators in each country and present our existing research regarding plea bargaining at several workshops and conferences.  Our research in the United States, Japan, and Korea over the next year will focus on the decision-making process of defendants when faced with a plea offer, including the impact of sentencing differentials on innocent and guilty defendants.  This research comes at an important historical moment in each country.  In the United States, bipartisan efforts to reform the criminal justice system have begun to focus on the role of plea bargaining.  In Japan, plea bargaining has historically been illegal.  Earlier this su

Examining Wrongful Convictions - A Good Summer Read

If you're looking for some summer reading on the latest research in the field of wrongful convictions, take a look at the book entitled Examining Wrongful Convictions by Allison Redlich, James Acker, Robert Norris, and Catherine Bonventre.  The book contains chapters by various experts in the field covering topics in three sections.  The first section examines "Disciplinary Perspectives on Criminal Justice and Wrongful Conviction," the second section deals with "The Criminal Justice System: Producing, Detecting, and Remedying Wrongful Convictions," and the final section examines "Moving Forward: Advancing the Study of Wrongful Conviction."  For those interested in the topic, it is an authoritative, detailed, and excellent read.  From the book's website: In  Examining Wrongful Convictions: Stepping Back, Moving Forward , the premise is that much can be learned by “stepping back” from the focus on the direct causes of wrongful convictions and ex

Virginia Newspaper Finds Racial Disparities in Plea Outcomes

The Daily Press in southeastern Virginia released an article yesterday detailing its review of court records related to plea deals in the Hampton Roads circuit courts. According to the article, the newspaper found racial disparities in the outcomes of cases. In particular, the article states that the data examined indicates that, for some of the most commonly charged offenses, white defendants were more likely to receive a deal that did not include jail time as compared to African-American defendants. A few examples of the data discussed in the article: "Whites were able to negotiate plea bargains on charges of drug possession that resulted in no actual jail time in 65 percent of cases, compared to 56 percent for African-Americans." "In plea deals on charges of distributing drugs, whites received no time in jail in 48 percent of their plea agreements, compared to 22 percent for African-Americans. All but a handful of these cases involved people who had been before

Voices on Innocence

Readers might be interested in a new article I have just posted to SSRN entitled "Voices on Innocence."  The piece, written with several colleagues from around the country, contains a number of essays on the topic.  In my introduction to the work, I discuss my plea bargaining research and the importance of the innocence issue to the field.   The abstract for the article is below.  The piece, which will appear in the Florida Law Review  later this year, is available for free download here . Abstract:        Voices on Innocence , 68 Florida Law Review -- (forthcoming) (with Richard A. Leo, Meghan J. Ryan, Valena E. Beety, Gregory M. Gilchrist, and William W. Berry III).  In the sum mer of 2015, experts gathered from around the country to sit together and discuss one of the most pressing and important issues facing the American criminal justice system – innocence. Innocence is an issue that pervades various areas of research and influences numerous topics of di

Another Opinion Piece Regarding Plea Bargaining

Tim Lynch of the CATO Institute has authored a thought-provoking piece about plea bargaining for The Washington Post.  The article, entitled Americans Are Bargaining Away Their Innocence , explores the presumption of innocence and the manner in which this tenet is impacted by the plea bargaining machine. The presumption of innocence helps to combat prejudice and prejudging in the U.S. criminal justice system. But because plea bargains have supplanted trials in our criminal justice system, that presumption does not apply to most cases in the United States. Read the entire opinion piece here .