The Instigator
Joy
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
thett3
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

Plea-bargaining undermines the criminal justice system.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
thett3
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/24/2011 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,327 times Debate No: 17635
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (4)

 

Joy

Pro

This is my first debate so please excuse any upcoming blunders or different style. Learning as I go.

Topic: Plea-bargaining undermines the criminal justice system.

This will be 5 rounds as follows...
Round 1: Acceptance of Debate
Round 2: Case
Round 3: Rebuttal
Round 4: Rebuttal
Round 5: Closing without new arguments

Thank you to whomever accepts and I look forward to have my first DDO experience.
thett3

Con

Accepted. I remember debating this topic in January haha :)

Just a suggestion, do you want to make round four a crossfire? If not, that's completely fine it's just a suggestion.
Debate Round No. 1
Joy

Pro

Yeah I was unable to compete in public forum because I switched to policy but I like the topic. I don't mind changing it to a crossfire but I am not quite sure how that would work online.

Thanks for accepting :)

Case:

The goal of a criminal justice program is to enforce the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community, to reduce crime by bringing more offences to justice, and to raise public confidence that the system is fair and will deliver for the law-abiding citizen. Today we are faced with the question of whether or not certain parts of our legal system accomplish that goal correctly, and ethically.

Resolved: Plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system. My partner and I stand in firm affirmation of this resolution.

Definitions:
.Plea bargaining as defined by dictionary.com as An agreement that permits a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge instead of pleading not guilty to a more serious one.
.I would also like to define undermines as to weaken or cause to collapse by removing underlying support,
. Finally I would like to define criminal justice system as Criminal justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts

My contention is that plea bargaining corrupts the criminal justice system.

Sub point A- John Langbein, professor of law and legal history at Yale University says and I quotes "Plea bargaining works by threats, and it goes like this: 'Oh you want to exercise your constitutional right to a jury trial? Please be our guest . but understand if you exercise that right we will punish you more severely," he says. "In affect, that means we are punishing you twice. Once for what you did and once for having the temerity to exercise your right to face a jury. The Law reform Commission says that the acceptance of plea bargains is "something for which a descent criminal justice system has no place." [1] the practice of plea-bargaining has corrupted many prosecutors. they hold too much power over the defendants and end up bullying guilty verdict out of people which leads me to our Sub point B.

Sub point B- Many defendants are bullied into guilty verdicts even though they did not commit the crime. When a prosecutor offers you a day in prison vs. a possible life time sentence in prison. Even though you didn't commit the crime it is reasonable to think that one might plead guilty which is exactly what happened to Robert H. who stayed anonymous in the article for the university of Chicago law review by Albert Alschuler and Andre Deiss. Robert spent six months in jail before seeing a public defender. When he saw the public defender she told him that he could plead guilty and go home that day with a felony charge and get out that day for time already spent OR he could wait another year before even getting to a court house. Only later did the authorities realize that a bureaucratic error had happened and that he was in fact innocent. during a plea bargain prosecutors in their own way legally threaten defendants to take a plea and plead guilty. the point of the justice system is to punish the guilty, not the innocent who are so desperate to get home that they will accept a plea bargain this does not accomplish the goals of the system but disrupts it. [2]

Contention 2- Plea bargains are unfair to the victims and their families. Like in the legal case of Karla Homolka. Karla Homolka and her husband lured, raped and murdered three school girls, one of them her own younger sister Tammy Holmoka and another young girl Kristen French. Karla Holmoka who lured the girls into her house for her husband to rape, the woman who offered her own sister to be raped and killed is now roaming the streets because she plea bargained for testimony against her husband. She only spent twelve years in prison even though without her help those girls who were raped never would have been raped and scarred for the rest of their lives and those dead girls would be alive and well getting married themselves, starting their own families. Don't be mistaken Karla Homolka not only lured them she also had sex with the victims including her own sister. A few weeks before the prosecutor made the plea bargain tapes were found of Karla Holmoka raping the girls and taking part in the killing. Yet Karla Holmoka was able to plea bargain and is now free to lure, rape and kill other girls into similar situations. [3] Nothing else shows the dangers of plea bargaining and nothing else is a direct example of how plea bargains undermine the criminal justice system.
The practice of plea bargains has had a detrimental affect on society. It has cause the innocent to go to jail and the guilty to get off free. This is the exact opposite of what the criminal justice system tries to do. It is unfair for the victims, the families and many times innocent people who are practically threatened into taking the plea. This is not what the criminal justice system is, it undermines it. for all these reason we urge you to vote in negation of this resolution for the innocent who are bullied into jail, for the families who see the killer and rapist of their loved ones walk free and for the dead girls who are in their grave as we as a society continue to trample on them by showing their murderers mercy even though they, the victims received none.

1. markbergen.net/Plea_Bargains_an_example_of_corrupt_legal_system.rtf
2. http://www.yale.edu...
3. http://www.cbc.ca...

Again I am new so please let me know if I am not following the "way" of DDO
thett3

Con

Thank you to my Opponent for starting this debate, I'm excited to be arguing this topic again.

I agree with Pro's definitions.

=Case=

According to Cato institute, between ninety and ninety-five percent of criminal cases are resolved by a plea bargain in the United States. With this statistic in mind, I negate the resolved.

C1. Plea Bargaining saves the criminal justice system time and money.


The Criminal Justice system simply cannot afford to take every case to trial. Without plea bargaining, our criminal justice system could not handle the amount of cases it would have to deal with. Judge Michael McSpadden elaborates on this, stating that if every case went to trial: "You'd have to spend billions of dollars to have that many courts, to have that much time. Just not going to happen."[1].

Law professor Bruce Green (no friend to plea bargaining) even admits that:

"It's a matter of resources, of course. We have a society where a lot of things are considered crimes. And a lot of people are arrested for crimes. If you were to give everyone a trial, it would cost an incredible amount. You'd have to build a lot more courtrooms, you'd have to appoint lots more judges and you'd have to spend a lot more of the state and local and federal money to do that. So part of the reason we have a system the way we do is it's economically more efficient to do that."[2]

It's quite clear that plea bargaining saves precious resources, and since the definition of undermines states "to weaken or cause to collapse", plea bargaining does the exact opposite, it supports the criminal justice system, rather than undermining it.

C2. Plea Bargaining provides justice as much as trials do.

SPA: Ensures conviction of the guilty.

Prosecutors sometimes wage long and expensive trials, yet lose and cause a guilty person to walk free. A recent example of the can be found in the infamous Casey Anthony trial. While logic easily showed her guilt, the jury refused to convict. Whether this is the fault of the jury, the prosecution, or the defense is ir-relevant. What IS relevant, is that a almsot certainly guilty person walked free. Take the O.J. Simpson trial as another example, and if my Opponent tries to contest this point (or these two examples) I will bring in more. Now, massive amounts of money have been wasted for a trial, and the guilty person still escaped punishment. A plea bargain would have saved money, and ensured conviction.

SPB: Keeps cases from being dropped.

The Oklahoma Law Review reports that when New Orleans banned plea bargaining, the District Attorney's office "rejected for prosecution 52% of all cases and 63% of all charges"[3]. This is significant, because it shows how since the courts only have a limited amount of time and money, without plea bargaining many cases cannot be tried. This is only one of many examples, which I will introduce later in this round. According the the Times online: "In the United States, defendants must be brought to trial within six months of a not guilty plea. If the trial is not held within six months, the case is dismissed."(emphasis mine). Since we can conclude that forcing the courts to try nearly ten times the amount of cases would significantly backlog the system, many cases would be dropped entirely.

In conclusion, Plea Bargaining is a needed component of our justice system. It certainly does not undermine it, rather it strengthens it. Please vote Con.

Sources:

1. http://www.pbs.org...
2. http://www.pbs.org...
3. http://adams.law.ou.edu...


=Refutation=

C1.

SPA:


For this point, Pro tries to show that people are being punished for exercising their right to trial by jury. This is unture. While sentences in a jury trial are generally more severe than those given through a plea bargain, it is not giving a punishment for pleading not guilty, rather it's giving a reward for pleading guilty and saving the court the burden of having to take them to trial. To argue that we are punishing people for pleading not guilty, is like arguing that it's punishing my sister by not giving her presents on my birthday. The vast majority of those accused are guilty, it is beneficial for the defendant and the justice system to plea bargain, which is why sentence reductions for plea bargaining exist.

SPB:

This actually supports my side. If the evidence is so overwhelming against a truly innocent defendant that they would most likely be convicted at trial, than plea bargaining gives them an avenue to recieve a lighter sentence.

Pro's example of Robert H. also supports my side. Since plea bargaining keeps the courts from being backlogged by resolving 90+% of cases, unfortunate cases of people having to be jailed for months or years while awaiting trial would exponentially increase. As terrible as it is that the innocent Mr. Robert pled guilty, due to the lack of evidence presented by Pro on this point I must conclude that it is a unique situation and the benefits provided by plea bargaining vastly outweigh this isolated incident.

C2.

Pros only example on this point is the Homolka case. If you look at Pros source for this point, it states that prosecutors initially believed her to have a smaller role in the crimes, and only after the guilty plea did they discover more incriminating evidence. This example does not support Pro's claim, because her light sentence was not a result of the plea bargain, rather it was a lack of evidence. In this situation, we cannot look to plea bargaining as the force behind this injustice.

Thank you to my opponent, I greatly anticipate our next round.
Debate Round No. 2
Joy

Pro

Joy forfeited this round.
thett3

Con

Unfortunate.
Debate Round No. 3
Joy

Pro

Joy forfeited this round.
thett3

Con

Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
Joy

Pro

Joy forfeited this round.
thett3

Con

All arguments extended, vote Con.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
Me too. What a shame
Posted by Gileandos 5 years ago
Gileandos
I was looking forward to this debate. I am sorry nothing came of it.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
Joythett3Tied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Arguments left unanswered, conduct loss for forfeits. Too bad, might have been a good debate.
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
Joythett3Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit
Vote Placed by Gileandos 5 years ago
Gileandos
Joythett3Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Joythett3Tied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Pro forfeiting 3 rounds especially on a debate that he instigated is unacceptable. Arguments: Since Pro never refuted Con's arguments or defended his own arguments against Con's refutes, Con wins on arguments. Both sides made negligible spelling errors and had reliable academic peer reviewed sources.