The Instigator
MiGatto
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
bsh1
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Plea Bargaining Ought to be Abolished in the United States Criminal Justice System

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
bsh1
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/31/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 weeks ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,141 times Debate No: 107131
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (27)
Votes (2)

 

MiGatto

Pro

My LD Case

Contention One: Prosecutorial Abuse Took Discovering Truth Out of the Criminal Justice System
S1. PROSECUTION"S POWER IS ABUSIVE AND ALLOWS ONE PERSON TO CONTROL THE LIVES OF OTHERS
The main winner in the plea bargaining process is the prosecutor. What has happened is that a single officer, the prosecutor, now is in charge of investigating, charging -- deciding whether to prosecute, evaluating that evidence, [deciding] whether or not in his or her judgment you're guilty or not, and sentencing. One in which the power to inflict criminal sanctions on an accused, is dispersed across prosecutor, witnesses, a judge, jury, sentencing professionals. We have a system in which one officer, the prosecutor, has complete power over the fate of the criminal accused. The prosecutor is not always as noble as [they] would like you to believe. It's a lot easier to coerce someone into waiving all his defenses than to actually investigate the case thoroughly,[and] take the proofs to trial.
S2. Prosecutors have all the power since judges must impose sentences, leads to pleas higher than the minimum sentence
Prosecutors have discretion, largely unreviewable by judges, as to what charges to bring, what promises or threats to make in plea bargaining, and whether to carry out those threats if the defendant does not plead. All prosecutors are in a powerful position vis-a-vis criminal defendants. When prosecutors choose to pursue charges carrying mandatory penalties and the defendant is convicted, judges must impose the sentences. The sentence imposed upon conviction will usually be higher than the minimum, as judges"taking their cue from the federal sentencing guidelines"take into account the actual amount of drugs involved in the crime, the defendant"s criminal history, and other aggravating and mitigating factors. In 2012, 60 percent of convicted federal drug defendants were convicted of offenses carrying mandatory minimum sentences. They often faced sentences that many observers would consider disproportionate to their crime. Drug defendants have only three ways to avoid mandatory sentences: Most prosecutors will offer drug defendants some sort of plea agreement that reduces their sentence, sometimes substantially. Prosecutors also threaten to increase defendants" sentences if they refuse to plead. Prosecutors will threaten to pursue these additional penalties unless the defendant pleads guilty " and they make good on those threats.
S3. PLEA BARGAINING CONCEALS TRUTH, PROSECUTORIAL POWER DISRUPTS PURPOSE OF JUSTICE
Defense lawyers [are] at a disadvantage in persuading prosecutors.the defendant may be innocent and thus have no private knowledge of the evidence of guilt. The danger that bluffing, fear, or ignorance will skew innocent defendants" bargaining is one of the most palpable injustices of plea bargaining.
S4. INNOCENT PEOPLE ARE CONVICTED, PROSECUTIONAL POWER DESTROYED THE PURPOSE OF ACHIEVING JUSTICE. LAWYERS ARE IN IT TO WIN, NOT TO ACHIEVE WHAT IS RIGHTEOUS.
The U.S. criminal justice system [is] accurate in about 99.5 percent of the cases. The magnitude of the problem might change when one considers the overall volume of cases processed through the U.S. criminal justice system. in the year 2000 there were 2.2 million arrests in the United States for index crimes alone. We also know that about 70 percent of those arrested for felonies are ultimately convicted of either a felony or a misdemeanor. If we assume that the system was 99.5 percent accurate in those cases and made errors in only one-half of 1 percent, rate of error would have produced about 7,500 wrongful convictions.

Contention 2: Wrongful Convictions
S1. Plea bargaining risks false convictions
Important rights are often waived, such as the right to appeal, the right to a jury trial, and the privilege against self-incrimination. Also, if the defendant supplies inaccurate information during the course of plea negotiations, he or she may not benefit from lenient treatment. Furthermore, in exchange for pleading guilty, the prosecution may require that the defendant testify against a codefendant.
S2. Plea deals only help people who are guilty and in turn are unfair.
Defendants, of course, already receive substantial plea discounts for cooperating with police and prosecutors. But the usual plea discount follows provision of useful inculpatory information"that is, defendants can get a plea break by admitting guilt and implicating others. Like discounts for "acceptance of responsibility," the irony of typical cooperation discounts is that they are only available to guilty defendants. Because, by definition, innocent defendants are not in a position to provide useful inculpatory information to law enforcement, they, as a group, receive worse plea deals than their guilty brethren.
S3. Plea bargaining coerces defendants into pleading guilty for crimes they didn"t commit " there are no other options for them in the current criminal justice system.
The vast majority of felony convictions are now the result of plea bargains"some 94 percent at the state level, and some 97 percent at the federal level. Very few cases go to trial. Ideally, plea bargains work like this: Defendants for whom there is clear evidence of guilt accept responsibility for their actions; in exchange, they get leniency. A time-consuming and costly trial is avoided, and everybody benefits. But in recent decades, American legislators have criminalized so many behaviors that police are arresting millions of people annually. Plea bargains make it easy for prosecutors to convict defendants who may not be guilty, who don"t present a danger to society, or whose "crime" may primarily be a matter of suffering from poverty, mental illness, or addiction. Plea bargains are intrinsically tied up with race, especially in our era of mass incarceration. Prosecutors make it known that defendants will face more-serious charges and harsher sentences if they take their case to court and are convicted. About 80 percent of defendants are eligible for court-appointed attorneys, including overworked public defenders who don"t have the time or resources to even consider bringing more than a tiny fraction of these cases to trial. Many of these defendants are facing minor charges that would not mandate further incarceration, but they lack the resources to make bail and secure their freedom. Some therefore feel compelled to take whatever deal the prosecutor offers, even if they are innocent.

Due to 95% of cases being settled by plea bargains, plea bargains are to blame for these unfair biases. Trials have higher standards of evidence and include juries, which helps weeds out potential biases and ensures fairness. This makes it less likely for innocent people to be convicted.

And thus, I affirm.
bsh1

Con

CON's CASE

I. Framework

A. Weighing Mechanism

The round should be evaluated on a consequentialist paradigm, where consequentialism is understood to mean that "[a]n action is morally right if and only if it has the best reasonably expected consequences," from among the available courses of action. [1] By talking implicitly about the harmful results she imagines will occur in my world, Pro has implicitly conceded to this standard already. Moreover, because my opponent offered no competing standard, mine must be preferred by default.

B. Observation

Inasmuch as Pro must argue for the abolition of plea-bargaining, implying plea-bargaining's total removal from the US criminal justice system (USCJS), any retention of plea-bargaining whatsoever sufficiently negates.

II. Court Clog

A world without plea-bargaining is a world full of unpalatable options for the state. If cases are not disposed by the plea-bargaining process, they must be disposed of in some other way. The state may choose to allow more cases to go to trial, but with a finite number of human and other resources, the added burden of these cases my simply overwhelm the courts, leading to backlogs and delays. In fact, we've seen this kind of outcome before. For example, "an eight-month moratorium on plea bargaining in criminal cases in...New Haven [Connecticut] has produced the largest backlog of cases a year or more old in any judicial district in the state...The number of such cases in the New Haven district rose from 181 to 310." [2]

Alternatively, the state could choose to simply not charge suspected criminals or to dismiss cases prior to trial in order to save time and resources. This second option is problematic insofar as criminals are more likely to go un-prosecuted, which seems to not only be unjust on its face, but which may also reduce the deterrent effect of the law. Finally, the state could choose to relax its judicial standards to process cases more quickly but in a less rigorous manner. This would make convicting innocents at trial more likely. In other words, Pro's world is a world in which the state has no good choices--create court clog, lower judicial standards, or dismiss potentially legitimate cases because of a lack of resources to prosecute them all?

III. Solving Other Crimes

Plea-bargains allow the state to offer reduced sentences or similar enticements to incentivizing criminals to "flip" on their confederates. For example, in exchange for a reduced sentence plea bargain, mobster Salvatore Gravano turned informant. "Mr. Gravano's testimony or information helped win nearly 40 convictions or guilty pleas...The biggest case in which Mr. Gravano testified was the prosecution of Mr. Gotti, the...boss of the Gambino crime family, who is now serving life in prison for murder and racketeering." [3] We can look to more recent examples as well, e.g. George Papadopoulos pleading guilty as part of an arrangement with Robert Mueller. [4] The point is, whether plea deals secure testimony, wire taps, or lead to the acquisition of physical evidence, they are incredibly useful tools in ensuring effective law enforcement and in bringing criminals to justice.

IV. Helping Victims

Our Constitution provides that accused criminals have a right to confront their accusers at trial. This creates a perverse scenario in which a rapist, for example, could, just by exercising his right to a trial, force his victims to take the stand and testify against him. Plea-bargains, by providing an incentivize for criminals to not go to trial, reduces the likelihood that victims will be re-victimized by having to relive their experiences in the court room.

Researchers examined "the effects of criminal court testimony on child sexual assault victims...[T]estifiers evinced greater behavioral disturbance than non-testifiers, especially if the testifiers took the stand multiple times...and lacked corroboration of their claims...In courthouse interviews before and after testifying, the main fear expressed by children concerned having to face the defendant." [5] Similarly, "[o]ften a crime victim is...infirm and does not want to be subjected to the rigors of trial, to have to relive in the presence of the accused the detailed horrors of victimization. In rape and abuse cases particularly, an accuser…must have great fortitude to endure cross-examination." [6]

PRO's CASE

I. Prosecutorial Power

A. S1 and S2

It seems that most of Pro's objections here have to do with mandatory minimums and a lack of proper checks on a prosecutor's discretion. It is important to note that I can support keeping the latter even as I advocate ending the former; one does not entail the other. It is my position that mandatory minimums ought to be abolished. Even so, it seems odd that Pro would want to do away with plea-bargaining when she spends so much time informing us of the dangers of mandatory minimums, because plea-bargains are a way around minimum sentences. If I reach a deal with a prosecutor to be charged with mere possession of LSD and not possession with an intent to sell, I might never trigger the mandatory minimum and thus escape an unjust punishment. Plea-bargains are a huge source of flexibility that can ameliorate injustices of the kind Pro discusses.

As for checks on a prosecutor's power, judges are empowered to reject a plea-deal if they find it problematic, so final review power does rest in the judge's hands. [7] Furthermore, reforms could address Pro's concerns. "In Connecticut, for example, judges often actively mediate plea negotiations, sometimes leaning in with personal opinion on an offer's merit. In Texas and North Carolina, along with a few other states, both sides share evidence prior to a plea." [8] Abolishing plea-bargaining outright is an overreaction to a fixable problem. Next, if the prosecutors threats are not extralegal and I am indeed guilty of a more severe offense, is it then wrong to pursue me to the full extent of the law in a trial setting? It doesn't seem so, since I am, indeed, guilty of that offense. Finally, Pro gives no concrete data of how often prosecutorial discretion is abused. It is therefore extremely difficult to quantify and weigh this problem.

B. S3 and S4

These points repeat what Pro later states in her other contention, i.e. that plea-bargaining leads to innocent people being convicted. I will address this issue on her other contention, but will make two quick notes here. First, if 95% of cases are settled by plea-bargaining, and 99.5% of cases result in accurate verdicts (these are Pro's numbers), what precisely is the objection to plea-bargaining? It seems like it's overwhelmingly accurate. Second, Pro says that plea-bargaining conceals the truth. Turn this argument: my second contention proves plea-bargaining is a useful tool in uncovering the truth.

II. Wrongful Convictions

A. Risk to Innocents

Turn: abolishing plea-bargaining would actually lead to more innocent people being falsely convicted. "'[C]onvicting innocents would likely be easier in a no-bargaining world'…To compensate for the additional requests for trials...the trial process…will become more 'casual.' The relaxation of the trial process will result in higher error rates and in a greater number of innocent defendants being convicted." [9]

Pro has not established, using data, that the plea-bargaining process is more inaccurate than the trial process. If both are equally inaccurate, then there is no benefit to scrapping plea-bargaining. It is, in fact, not the case that plea-bargaining is less accurate than trials. "Recent empirical evidence hints that...far fewer innocent persons plead guilty than proceed to trial. A study...found that less than six percent of the persons exonerated…had pled guilty." [10] That means that 94% of those exonerated had been convicted at trial.

B. S2

This contention supports my case that plea-bargaining is a useful tool in collecting evidence. Even so, it's wrong to suggest that plea-bargaining always comes down to horsetrading. To think that prosecutors will be lenient only if you have information to sell seems wrong; they will likely consider a variety of factors, including your past criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the crime. Finally, plea-bargaining clearly does still benefit even innocent defendants. These are defendants who may, despite their lack of guilt, be convicted at trial. It is, in fact, beneficial to them offer them a risk-minimizing alternative like plea-bargaining.

C. S3

Turn: public defenders actually get better results because of plea-bargaining than supposedly "better" attorneys who are incentivized to proceed to trial. "A study...revealed disturbing disparities in the outcomes of murder cases...Public defenders achieved significantly better outcomes with fewer trials than their private court-appointed counterparts, who were paid more if the case went to trial."

Turn: Going to trial would actually harm defendants with substandard lawyers more than plea-bargaining. "Trials require greater levels of attorney skill, preparation, and time than plea negotiations," meaning that substandard lawyers are more likely to make mistakes at trial than in plea-bargaining. [11]

Note that Pro describes trials as "time-consuming and costly," which bolster's my case that ending plea-bargaining would result in court-clog. Also, if Pro is going to cite data, she needs to provide in-round citations.

SOURCES

1 - https://www.iep.utm.edu...
2 - https://tinyurl.com...
3 - https://tinyurl.com...
4 - https://tinyurl.com...
5 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
6 - https://tinyurl.com...
7 - https://tinyurl.com...
8 - https://tinyurl.com...
9 - https://tinyurl.com...
10 - https://tinyurl.com...
11 - Scott, R. & W. Stuntz. "Plea bargaining as contract." Yale Law Journal 101 (1992): 1909-1968.

Thank you! Please vote Con!
Debate Round No. 1
MiGatto

Pro

I agree to meet my opponents framework of consequentialism, but my own case reaches the framework better than my opponents.
Firstly, my opponent argued court clog for his first contention. As I have stated in my second contention, third subpoint, plea bargaining is the main reason court clog is even thought of. The plea bargaining process forces police to have a mandatory minimum to arrests. Now, police arrest millions annually for a fracture of the major crimes. With the abolition of plea bargaining, the consequences are only good. Secondly, my opponent brought up the example of Connecticut's ban on plea bargaining, which resulted in massive case back clog. My opponent chooses to rely on the outcome of 1 event, when the abolition of plea bargaining will make a difference on a global level. I bring up the example of the Alaska ban on plea bargaining. When this ban took place, courts did not, in fact, get backed up. In fact, court back log decreased dramatically. My opponent's court clog argument falls, as the consequences of abolishing plea bargaining positively outways the consequences of not abolishing.
My opponent argued about the innocence problem for his second contention. They stated that the amount of innocent convictions would, in deed, rise, even though the majority of all convictions in the plea bargain system (82%) are of innocent convictions. As I have previously stated, since 95% of all cases are solved with plea bargaining, it is undoubtedly the result of plea bargaining. Once again, the consequences of abolishing plea bargain outway my opponents.
My opponent's third consisted of the plea bargaining system "Solving More Crimes". My opponent gave the example of Mr. Gravino. Once again, my opponent has chosen to see one event when there have been thousands in this world. Yes, the arrest and turning of Gravino was a major event. One. One major event. He gave another example, but still, these two examples don't justify for keeping plea bargaining system, mainly because there are more negative consequences in the plea bargaining process than positive effects. As I stated in my second subpoint of my second contention, guilty people are the only people who gain advantages in the plea bargaining process. What is happening is that guilty people get a shorter sentence, all in the while as innocent people are going to jail. And these innocents that take plea deals are not always helped. I bring up the example of Erma Faye Stewart, a single African-American mother of two who was arrested at age 30 in a drug sweep in Hearne, Tex. in 2000. In jail, with no one to care for her two young children, she began to panic. Though she maintained her innocence, her court appointed lawyer told her to plead guilty. Ms. Stewart spent a month in jail, and then relented to a plea. She was sentenced to 10 years" probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Upon her release, Ms. Stewart was saddled with a felony record; she was destitute, barred from food stamps and evicted from public housing. Once they were homeless, Ms. Stewart"s children were taken away and placed in foster care. In the end, she lost everything even though she took the deal. Plea bargaining is unfair, especially with it's consequences. My opponents third contention falls.
My opponent next talks about plea bargaining helping victims, and they gave the example of a victim going to trial to testify against a rapist and reliving the experience. My opponent is offering to basically do plea bargaining for only rapists, then. There are more crimes in this world, like theft, or manslaughter. If my opponent chooses to focus on rapists, then his argument immediately falls. I bring up the argument that rapists abuse pleas. Records show that in 2008 only 38% of rape cases won a conviction for rape itself. Alternative convictions come because of a plea bargain, where rape charge is dropped after a defendant offers to plead guilty to a lesser offence. The sentence will be lower, the man will be out sooner, and the victim may also get less or even no compensation. Would you rather testify in a trial to get someone who physically and mentally disturbed you, or would you rather have that person back on the streets, ready to strike again? The consequences outway, once again.

Now, To My Own Case
Starting at my first contention, my opponent must prove that Prosecutors do not have all the power, as well as I must prove that they do, and I have done just that. My opponent has failed to argue against the evidence shown that prosecutors are in charge of the defendant's life. He, instead, chose to argue against a smaller portion of my argument, which was me fighting against the mandatory minimum sentence. He argued that judges are able to waive any plea bargains, but as I have stated in my second subpoint, prosecutors have discretion that is LARGELY unreviewable by judges. He then talks about reforms solving this issue. I counter this by providing this definition of abolish - "To Completely Do Away With", meaning that reforms do not follow the resolution and my opponent's option of reform is impossible, according to the topic.
My opponent chooses to process accuracy with efficiency, not with quality. In my plea bargaining process, 82% of all cases are of innocent convictions. Now, plea bargains don't take long to happen, but that is 82% of all plea bargains (which are 95% of all cases) being innocent people. I do not see how this shows justice or fairness in the criminal justice system. My opponent also chose to ignore the third number in my argument, which was 7,500. 7,500 wrongful convictions, and 95% being from plea bargaining. That is 7,125 convictions coming from the plea bargaining process, and that is a very rough estimate. Where is the accuracy when 82% of all plea bargains are of innocent pleas?
In my second attention, my opponent attempted to say that trials have a higher chance of error than plea bargains. Tell me how he proves this without just stating his opinion? I have proven that 82% of all plea bargains are of innocent defendants. That means my opponent must prove that trials have 83 or higher innocent convictions, which he has not. I have also already proven that plea bargains are the reason for court clog, and abolishing them will not lead to a back clog of trials, as shown by the alaska ban.

And thus, I end my case, proving that the affirmative should win this debate.
(and for clarification, the affirmation is a male, not female.)
bsh1

Con

Thanks to Pro for the debate so far and apologies for using the incorrect gender pronoun.

CON's CASE

I. Framework

Extend my framework, particularly my observation, which go entirely unaddressed. Pro should not be permitted to respond to these points in the final round, insofar as doing so would constitute a new argument. This is true for all dropped arguments moving forward.

My observation shows that all I need to do to win is to show that plea-bargaining should be retained in one or more cases, and should thus not be abolished outright. I submit I have done so, by showing that plea-bargaining should be retained in cases where the victims would suffer severe trauma by testifying and in cases where plea-bargains would produce evidence which would secure convictions of other offenders. If you, as the judge, buy that plea-bargaining should be retained in even one of these situations, the resolution has been negated.

II. Court Clog

Pro's case only refers to mandatory minimum sentences, not to "mandatory minimum to arrests." I am unclear if Pro is means the same thing in both cases. I have addressed the mandatory minimum argument in several ways, all of which go unresponded to by my opponent. First, I argued for abolishing mandatory minimums, which we both agree are bad. Second, I argue that plea-bargains are a useful way to circumvent mandatory minimums by having defendants plead to charges below the trigger.

Pro cites no source to corroborate any of his evidence, including the Alaska example. But even if the lack of supporting evidence weren't enough to void his example, "Alaska's criminal justice system is atypical...Alaska is thinly populated, and the volume of felony prosecutions is small. Only 2,283 defendants were charged with felonies over a 2-year period in the three main cities studied." [1] Imagine trying to replicate Alaska's program in a city like Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, or any other major metropolitan area. These deal with significantly more criminal prosecutions. Also, Pro talks about plea-bargaining on a global level; the resolution is not global, it's national, pertaining to the (entire) US.

Pro makes the frankly outrageous claim that in the plea-bargaining system 82% of all convictions are of innocent people. First, this is unsourced and, prima facie, defies credulity. Second, Pro's earlier numbers contradict this latest one. Pro earlier said that 95% of cases are settled by plea-bargaining, and also that 99.5% of cases result in accurate verdicts. How can it be that, if 95% of all cases are settled by plea-bargaining, and that 82% of them are false convictions, that somehow 99.5% of them are still settled accurately? This makes no sense at all. Third, cross-apply my (sourced) data from R2 (under "wrongful convictions") which refutes Pro's unbelievable 82% claim.

Finally, Pro never challenges the fact that if court clog happens it will leave the state with 3 very unpalatable options to address it, increasing the harm caused by court clog.

III. Solving Other Crimes

My opponent accuses me of cherry-picking, but ignores both common knowledge and common sense in doing so. It is common knowledge that prosecutors reach plea deals to secure additional evidence or testimony. It is also common sense. Pro, in focusing only on my example, drops the logic that plea-bargains can be utilized as enticements to seduce criminals into flipping. This logic never went responded to, and it's distinct from the example I used to illustrate it. Sure, it's one example, but this logic applies to literally thousands of cases where prosecutors are seeking additional evidence in their investigations.

It is also ironic that Pro accuses me of cherry-picking, only then to resort to it himself in the case of Erma Faye Stewart. This anecdote is not only cherry-picked, it is primarily an appeal to emotion, not to logic. Consequentialism requires us to look at the evidence, not our feelings, however hard-hearted that might seem.

Pro also reiterates his argument that only the guilty benefit from plea-bargaining. But merely repeating what he said earlier is not a defense against the attacks I made last round. I wrote: "it's wrong to suggest that plea-bargaining always comes down to horsetrading. To think that prosecutors will be lenient only if you have information to sell seems wrong; they will likely consider a variety of factors, including your past criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the crime." Pro dropped this completely, and it's devastating for his argument, since his argument is predicated on the notion that the guilty benefit unfairly because pleas happen in some kind of marketplace where only those with stuff to sell make off with the cash. But conceiving of pleas as occurring within a marketplace is absurd, because prosecutors are not always going to reduce the process to horsetrading, and they will of course take into consideration other factors. The basic premise of Pro's claim is just off.

Pro also drops that abolishing plea-bargaining harms innocent defendants by denying them a risk-minimizing option. This basically turns his second contention, which argues that plea-bargaining is harmful because it results in innocent convictions. Let's face it, it's better for an innocent person to take 2 years probation than 5 in the slammer; there's no guarantee they'll be exonerated at trial, particularly insofar as my data suggests that trials are less accurate than plea-bargains.

IV. Helping Victims

My opponent never denies that victims are re-traumatized by the trial process. For victims of rape, for the infirm, and for child sexual assault victims, testifying may actually do more harm to the victim than what they gain in the compensation they receive from pursuing the criminal to the fullest extent of the law. Pro's 38% number is irrelevant, because it talks about conviction rates, which aren't directly tied to plea-bargains. Moreover, a lower sentence for the offender may be tempered by registration as a sex offender, which is often a part of the plea agreement, and by the fact that the victim is not re-victimized by a judicial system which is meant to protect them. The trade-off here seems to favor pleas in cases where the victim is truly unable to testify do the emotional trauma they might endure.

PRO's CASE

I. Prosecutorial Power

Pro's arguments here seem to make little sense. First, he says that I "must prove that prosecutors do not have all the power." Pro then, in acknowledgment of my argument that judges can overturn plea deals, writes just a few sentences later that, "prosecutors have discretion that is LARGELY unreviewable by judges." The use of the word largely implies that there are limits to a prosecutor's power, even if that power is extensive. Ergo, I have proven that prosecutors do not have all the power, and met my opponent's standard.

On reform, Pro says that because the resolution calls on Pro to advocate abolishing plea-bargaining that I can't argue for reforming it. This is literally gobbledygook. Only in Pro's world must plea-bargaining be completely done away with. I am required to argue for keeping it, which doesn't preclude reforming plea-bargaining in any way. Since Pro never addresses the substance of my argument on reforms, extend it. Also extend my dropped turn on his case that, if you buy my second contention, the Con world is the world which best promotes uncovering the truth in criminal cases; my world will lead to more criminals behind bars.

And, even if you buy none of the above, I have the following two cleanly dropped arguments on the flow: (1) if the prosecutors threats are not extralegal and I am indeed guilty of a more severe offense, it is not wrong to prosecute me for that offense; and (2) Pro gives no concrete data of how often prosecutorial discretion is abused.

Pro's 7,125 number is not relevant because his calculations weren't specific to the plea-bargaining process. Just go up to R1 and read how he got those numbers--by looking at total convictions, irrespective of how those convictions were obtained. My study (R2, source 10) was specific to plea-bargaining, and found it less likely to result in innocent convictions than trials.

II. Wrongful Convictions

Pro fails to engage with the logic I offered regarding why his world will produce more wrongful convictions. This argument is, in essence, dropped, and it's important to reiterate it. Because courts will have to become more "casual" to cope with an increased workload resulting from abolishing plea-bargaining, their error rate will increase. The less rigorous the process, the more room there is to make mistakes. Also, if you look also at my data about public defenders, you'll see that forcing them to go to trial may also result in a higher error rate because they lack the skills necessary to credibly defend their clients.

III. Everything Else

Pro literally drops everything else. He is no longer able to respond to these arguments, and this is going to be massively problematic for him moving forward, because my turns are generating offense for me off these arguments.

My turns showed that (1) abolishing plea-bargaining would lead to more innocent people being convicted, (2) that public defenders, because they use the plea-bargaining system, get better results for their clients than more expensive attorneys who go to trial, and (3) that going to trial would harm defendants with substandard lawyers. These turns show that my world, a world which retains plea-bargaining, is actually better for poor and for innocent defendants.

Pro also never directly responds to my source 10, which I have used here several times to refute some of Pro's more far-fetched numbers.

SOURCE

1 - https://tinyurl.com...

Thank you! Please vote Con!
Debate Round No. 2
MiGatto

Pro

To go over my opponents framework, I continue to agree with the value of Consequentialism, meaning that the morality of a situation shall be judged by it's consequences. And with that, I affirm. Now, to the cases at hand.

As I have already stated, Court Clog has been checked in the criminal justice system with the single claim in my first contention that the reason for the rise in arrest numbers is solely because of the Plea Bargaining process. My opponent has failed to mention this piece of evidence, which clearly states that because of Plea Bargaining, officers feel obliged to arrest millions of people annually. My opponent's Court Clog argument falls, since they do not connect to his value of Consequentialism. [https://www.theatlantic.com... source for my C2 S3.] Moving on, yes, I mistook national level for global level, but still, the impact does not change. My opponent chose to take one example in one state, when the ban on plea bargaining will affect more than one state, and he does not know the consequences of abolishing plea bargaining on a national level. My opponent's argument is contradictory to itself, so my argument still flows through.

My opponent attempted to argue against my evidence about 82% of all plea bargains being of innocent defendants, but I do have the source, and the source being [https://www.theatlantic.com... , and yes, I did forget to post my sources, my bad.] Going over the 99.5% accuracy, it is showing how terrible the plea bargaining proccess is. They choose to measure accuracy by speed, and since most plea bargains are speedy, then they are accurate. The system is corrupt and it just shows how corrupt the system is. Even if we do take the 99.5% example, that will still lead to 7,500 wrongful convictions, which do not belong in the United States Justice System.

My opponent rebut's my arguments to his own case by saying that logic is what determines the best outcome. Frankly, I will choose NOT to believe my opponent's "logic": perseeing that it is not factual and is merely opinionated. Firstly, he stated that it is common knowledge that prosecutors use plea bargains to secure information and evidence, but this can't be further than false. As I have stated before, prosecutors are in it to win, not to achieve what is righteous. They will do anything to win, including falsifying evidence, threatening the defendants, and straight out raising the defendant's punishment [https://www.hrw.org... , and "The Plea: Interview John Langbein."]

My opponent stated that my evidence of Erma Faye Stewart was an appeal to emotion, and not logical at all. My example of Erma Faye Stewart was to show the negative effects on the plea bargaining process, just like my opponent's argument about Gravino. If my opponent chooses to make the statement that my argument of Erma Faye Stewart should be dropped, so shall my opponent's argument with Gravino.

My opponent has stated that I have not provided evidence about only guilty people winning in the plea bargaining process, but if my opponent chooses to debate with logic and common sense, let us bring up common sense. As I have stated, in the Plea Bargaining process, two things can happen: a) Guilty people get a lesser sentence than they deserved, or b) innocents go to prison for crimes they did not commit. My opponent fails to see this on a common sense level, so let me put it in an evidence format: plea bargains work like this: those who are believed to be guilty and can provide inculpatory information can plead guilty for a lesser charge. Since, by definition, innocents do not possess such inculpatory information, they, by definition, automatically receive worse than their guilty counterparts [https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org... , this is evidence for C2. S2]

To save time that I do not have, I will just make the statement that my opponent has chosen to make arguments of his own opinions and feelings, using HIS OWN logic instead of evidence and information to counter my own cases. He stated that 82% was an outrageous number: firstly, an opinion by my opponent, and secondly, an actual number, which shows how corrupt our system is with the plea bargaining process. The affirmative will rest their case, as I have PROVEN that plea bargaining ought to be abolished in the United States Criminal Justice System.

(and yes, I know that I did not go over more of my opponent's rebuttal, but I do want to make sure I get the debate in on time, so please do not judge anything my opponent says after talking about guilties only benefit, as it will only be fair in the final judging. Opponent, if you don't follow this request, it is absolutely fine, since it is my own fault that I didn't manage my time properly. Best of luck, and vote for the affirmation!)
bsh1

Con

Thanks to MiGatto for the debate.

MY CASE

I. Sources Overview

It is too late for my opponent to present sources for arguments he made previously because these sources are newly introduced in the final round. I should've had access to his sources earlier so that if they were problematic, I could have explained why. I don't have the space to do that in a final round where I must also devote characters to voting issues. If debaters were always allowed to only post their sources in the final round like this, they could handicap their opponent's ability to respond to their arguments; that is, of course, abusive. Therefore, judges should entirely disregard the sources my opponent has introduced.

II. Court Clog

A. Arrest Rates

My opponent claims he made the argument that "officers feel obliged to arrest millions of people annually." It appears Pro is referring to a R2 argument in which he says: "The plea bargaining process forces police to have a mandatory minimum to arrests. Now, police arrest millions annually for a fracture of the major crimes." First, this argument was incredibly unclear when it was made (as I pointed out in R2, the phrase "mandatory minimum to arrests" is not exactly understandable or grammatical, and was reasonably confused with his earlier argument about mandatory minimums). Because the claim was unclear when it was made, I should not have to respond to it. Imagine a world in which debaters could make deliberately unclear, ungrammatical arguments so that their opponents wouldn't understand what they meant. Then, in the final round, these debaters suddenly clarify all of those unclear arguments and say, "oh well, my opponent dropped these points, so I am winning them all." You understand how this would be abusive. Even if my opponent's ambiguity was not deliberate, it is still abusive to count this argument against me because of how garbled it was in its original articulation.

Second, Pro has not presented any reasoning or warrant in this round for why this argument is true. Yes, he cites a source (which should be disregarded per my overview) but none of the reasoning that source gives is included in the text of the debate. This means that Pro is relying on arguments made outside of the text of this round (in his source) to do his work for him, which unfairly violates the character constraints. We both have 10,000 characters to make our points each round, so when Pro his able to use outside text to make arguments, he places me at an unfair disadvantage by, in effect, using more characters than I can.

For these two reasons, you must disregard Pro's arguments on police arrest rates because they are unfair.

B. Connecticut vs. Alaska

Pro drops all of my arguments against his Alaska example, so set that example aside. Pro instead makes a new argument about how my example is cherry-picked. First, this is a new argument in the final round so it should be disregarded. Second, Connecticut is the best example we have in this round of how abolishing plea-bargaining will actually turn out. It's denser and more populated than Alaska, and so it doesn't suffer the same pitfalls I identified in my opponent's example. Yes, it is only one state, but it's not as if we have oodles of examples to choose from--not many places in the US have tried to abolish plea-bargaining. We have to use what we've got, and Connecticut is the best example we have.

C. 82%

First, Pro says that when he wrote that 99.5% of cases were settled accurately, what he really meant was that 99.5% of cases were settled speedily. This is a material misrepresentation of evidence which, if intentional, merits a loss in conduct (because it's essentially lying about evidence to win a debate) and, if accidental, calls into question the accuracy and trustworthiness of all the evidence Pro has presented us. Has anything else been materially misrepresented?

Second, you should still disregard my opponents sources per my overview. Even so, I clicked on his source and did a super quick ctrl+f search for "82," "eight," and "innocent" and found no reference to the 82% statistic Pro offered.

Third, my evidence has been reliably sourced throughout and never materially misrepresented. Given that I have been more trustworthy in describing my evidence and more reliable in sourcing it, you should prefer my previously-dropped source 10 to Pro's numbers.

III. Solving Other Crimes

A. Inducing Flips

Pro says that prosecutors are in it to win it. How does this rebut my argument? If prosecutors' goal is to win the most possible cases, why wouldn't they use plea-bargains to collect evidence on other criminals to maximize the number of convictions they can get? Pro also never disputes that pleas can be effective inducements to get criminals to flip on their compatriots. Whether or not you buy my Gravino evidence, it is certainly common knowledge that prosecutors use plea-bargaining to induce flips and it is certainly logical that they would do so. The logical extension of the Gravino case-study to literally thousands of other cases is what insulates it from accusations of cherry-picking.

B. Erma Faye Stewart

Pro's arguments about prosecutors falsifying evidence and such are new in the last round and should be ignored as a result. Erma Faye Stewart was cherry-picked and it is an appeal to emotion. Consequentialism is concerned with net results, not with individual sob-stories. Certainly, her tale pulls on the heartstrings, but it has nothing to do with pleas as inducements to flip and, as a solitary case study, it does nothing to show any net detriment to plea-bargaining.

C. Horsetrading

Pro literally does not respond to my argument about horsetrading. Merely repeating his own argument doesn't address my substantive attacks on it.

Pro's argument is premised on the notion that only those with information to sell benefit from the plea-bargaining process. This is wrong, because prosecutors will consider other factors (e.g. past criminal history, the circumstances surrounding the crime) in making an offer. Moreover, Pro also drops that "it's better for an innocent person to take 2 years probation than 5 in the slammer; there's no guarantee they'll be exonerated at trial." So clearly plea-bargaining benefits more than just guilty parties.

IV. Miscellaneous

Pro drops my contention about helping victims.

Pro says I use my "OWN logic instead of evidence and information to counter my own cases." We should not conceive of debates as source wars. Debate is a clash of logic. If I use my logic to effectively impeach a source or to rebut a cited claim, should Pro just be able to say "well, I had a source, my opponent only had logic"? If my opponent can dismiss my logic by merely engaging in fallacious appeals to authority, there is little point to this activity at all. Moreover, how is logic not a kind of evidence or information? Good logic should trump bad logic (even if the bad logic is sourced) any day of the week.

Judges should consider what was said after the "guilties only benefit" because (a) Pro is to blame for his own mismanagement of his time, and it would be unfair to me to ignore arguments I made because of Pro's mistakes, and because (b) there is really no loss of fairness to Pro in considering these arguments. Pro had the opportunity to address them, and my extension of these arguments is not itself a new argument, so there doesn't seem to be any grounds for Pro to object. Moreover, some of the arguments Pro wants you to disregard were previously dropped, so Pro wouldn't have been allowed to address them even if he had had the time to do so.

PRO's CASE

Pro drops his entire case. Extend my arguments in their entirety; they take out Pro's case. There are a few quotes from last round which I wish to briefly highlight:

1. "Pro's 7,125 number is not relevant because his calculations weren't specific to the plea-bargaining process...My study (R2, source 10) was specific to plea-bargaining, and found it less likely to result in innocent convictions than trials."

2. "Pro fails to engage with the logic I offered regarding why his world will produce more wrongful convictions...Because courts will have to become more 'casual' to cope with an increased workload resulting from abolishing plea-bargaining, their error rate will increase."

3. "My turns showed that (1) abolishing plea-bargaining would lead to more innocent people being convicted, (2) that public defenders, because they use the plea-bargaining system, get better results for their clients than more expensive attorneys who go to trial, and (3) that going to trial would harm defendants with substandard lawyers."


VOTING ISSUES

1. Argument Points

A world with plea-bargaining (a) has fewer innocents being convicted, per my source 10 and my turns; (b) helps victims who would be severely traumatized by having to testify; (c) benefits innocent defendants by giving them a risk-minimizing alternative to trials, (d) has more convictions of guilty parties because it can use plea-bargaining to induce criminals to flip on their compatriots; and (e) has less court clog per my Connecticut example.

Pro's arguments have repeatedly failed. He made numerous drops (including: his own case, the risk-minimizing alternative, helping victims, my response to his Alaska example, my turns, and more). He also failed to respond to the substance of many of my arguments (including: horsetrading, the logic which extends Gravino, etc.).

2. Sources Points

Pro repeatedly made unsourced claims throughout the debate, and not just those he tried to source in his final round. His use of sources in the last round was unfair (per my overview) and he occasionally used them to circumvent the character restrictions.

3. Grammar Points

Pro made more grammar errors, and these had a real and negative impact on the debate (see the "arrests" argument).

Thank you! Please VOTE CON!
Debate Round No. 3
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh7000 6 days ago
bsh7000
Thanks to TUF for the vote and MiGatto for the debate.
Posted by warren42 1 week ago
warren42
I will try to vote tomorrow (or maybe even tonight)
Posted by bsh1 2 weeks ago
bsh1
@MiGatto, you don't allow messages, so if you'd like my help, I need you to PM me.

Also, I am not attacking your character. While I believe that things you did were unfair, I don't believe they were done intentionally. Mistakes like that are not a reflection of your character.

And, finally, while I don't wish to continue the debate in the comments, my sources don't circumvent the character count because I always quoted or paraphrased the reasoning my sources used inside the text of the debate.
Posted by MiGatto 2 weeks ago
MiGatto
And I also say thank you to my opponents comment. I would definitely wish for the help you offered. Thanks for the debate!
Posted by MiGatto 2 weeks ago
MiGatto
And I also say thank you to my opponents comment. I would definitely wish for the help you offered. Thanks for the debate!
Posted by MiGatto 2 weeks ago
MiGatto
And I also say thank you to my opponents comment. I would definitely wish for the help you offered. Thanks for the debate!
Posted by MiGatto 2 weeks ago
MiGatto
Ok, hold on, your entire final speech is an ad herring, and completely an insult to my character. You also used sources in all of your speeches which also extend the word limit. And I also stated that I only put the sources there for my opponents reassurance that I have sources. And you have to click the right link to see the right evidence, and I state this because you looked at the wrong piece of evidence for my 82%. You can message me if you truly want all my sources. (Do not use this comment to influence debate vote, it is just a comment to the negation)
Posted by TUF 2 weeks ago
TUF
I'll be reading and voting on this soon
Posted by TUF 2 weeks ago
TUF
I'll be reading and voting on this soon
Posted by TUF 2 weeks ago
TUF
I'll be reading and voting on this soon
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by TUF 6 days ago
TUF
MiGattobsh1Tied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HKkh3gTvbSiOtexXqUd09AG8hjbx2QjrkrREQIVxZmY/edit?usp=sharing
Vote Placed by whiteflame 1 week ago
whiteflame
MiGattobsh1Tied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD given here: http://www.debate.org/forums/miscellaneous/topic/111368/