Recently Noted – Serial the Podcast – More Evidence of the Delusion of Justice –

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Blind Lady Justice statueWe have written earlier about the fact that effective legal representation and trial by jury is a rarity making one of our cultural icons a complete sham. As Jed Rakoff has noted:

In actuality, our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone.

In 2013, while 8 percent of all federal criminal charges were dismissed (either because of a mistake in fact or law or because the defendant had decided to cooperate), more than 97 percent of the remainder were resolved through plea bargains, and fewer than 3 percent went to trial. The plea bargains largely determined the sentences imposed.

While corresponding statistics for the fifty states combined are not available, it is a rare state where plea bargains do not similarly account for the resolution of at least 95 percent of the felony cases that are not dismissed; and again, the plea bargains usually determine the sentences, sometimes as a matter of law and otherwise as a matter of practice. Furthermore, in both the state and federal systems, the power to determine the terms of the plea bargain is, as a practical matter, lodged largely in the prosecutor, with the defense counsel having little say and the judge even less.1

The Podcast Serial

logo for the podcast SerialThe podcast Serial has released Season Three – https://serialpodcast.org

“Serial is heading back to court. This time, in Cleveland. A year inside a typical American courthouse. This season we tell you the extraordinary stories of ordinary cases. One courthouse, told week by week.”

I have only listened to the first two episodes, nevertheless, I highly recommend this podcast to anyone interested in how our justice system actually works.

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Also published on Medium.

Footnotes

  1. Why Innocent People Plead Guilty” by Jed Rakoff in New York Review of Books 11/20/2014 accessed 6/24/2017