The Instigator
ds
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
RougeFox
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points

Resolved: In the United States, Plea Bargaining undermines the criminal justcie system.

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
RougeFox
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/22/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,627 times Debate No: 14465
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)

 

ds

Con

We negate: Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system. Princeton defines plea bargaining as "negotiating a verdict and sentence without a complete trial". Princeton defines justice as "what is legally or ethically right or proper or fitting". Undermine is defined as "to weaken by attacking the base or foundation of" a system. With these definitions are our contentions.

Contention One: Plea bargaining balances the Criminal Justice System financially and prevents an overflow of criminal trials. Without plea bargaining, the system would be inhibited by far too many cases. The Criminal Justice System relies on plea bargaining, and without it, it would suffer.
According to Michael Kinsley of Harvard Law, for every one criminal conviction, 19 cases are settled by plea bargaining. Despite the fact that the criminal justice system is already overwhelmed, without plea bargaining, further complications would be created, and these issues would inhibit the system, and in turn fulfilling justice to the fullest would not be possible. Plea bargaining is a tool to ensure that the Criminal Justice System runs quickly and smoothly.
Plea bargaining is necessary for the criminal justice system. According to America.Gov, with plea bargaining, the Criminal Justice System costs approximately $3.8 billion annually, and without it, it would cost over $76 billion annually.
Overcriminalization is also too costly. According to the Department of Corrections, it costs approximately $20,000 to detain one inmate for year, and there are 2.2 million inmates in America, according to Reuters. 95% of these inmates have plea bargained, so over 2 million inmates have plea bargained. Without plea bargaining, these 2 million inmates would go to trial. According to the News Herald, in the U.S., the prosecution has a 70% conviction rate in trials brought to court. This means 1.4 million people would be convicted as opposed to 2 million, however, they would have a longer sentence. Candace McCoy, professor of law from the University of New York, says convictions after a trial result in a sentence 9 times longer than those of plea bargaining. Therefore, the 2 million inmates who plea bargain, times $20,000 for a year would cost $40 billion annually. On the contrary, 1.4 million inmates convicted who would have plea bargained, times $20,000 for a year, times 9, because these sentences will be 9 times longer, and therefore will be 9 times as many years, would cost $252 billion.
Thus, plea bargaining is best for society. According to Bruce Green, professor of law and director of the Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University, "the main benefit of plea bargaining is saving an astronomical amount of money and resources." It is fairer to witnesses and prospective jurors because if a jury had to be formed for every case, people would have to leave their jobs, which would be unfair to the public. He says "from the state's point of view, if you have someone, especially someone who's clearly guilty, and you could get them to plead guilty by offering them an inducement, it's in everybody's interest to do that." Plea bargaining does not undermine the criminal justice system because it ensures order in society, and because of it society benefits.

Contention Two: Plea bargaining has legal procedures that yield its constitutionality.
Subpoint A: There have been multiple instances of attempted coercion in the legal system, but the precedent was made by the Supreme Court that coercion is illegal. In Machibroda vs. United States, the Supreme Court stated that "[a] guilty plea, if induced by promises or threats which deprive it of the character of a voluntary act, is void." Also, The Supreme Court held in Boykin vs. Alabama that a plea, which was not "voluntary and knowing," violates due process and is void. The Court also determined that the record of the trial court proceeding must affirmatively reflect that the defendant voluntarily entered the guilty plea. According to the Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, You can only enter a plea bargain if you do it knowingly, voluntarily, and have a factual basis to support the charges to which the defendant is pleading guilty. "Knowingly" means you understand the rights you're giving up and "voluntarily" means you are not coerced. Because a plea bargain must be agreed upon in a reasonable manner, it does not infringe on Americans' rights. The Criminal Justice System is supposed to protect people's rights, and plea bargaining ensures this, and therefore does not undermine it.
Subpoint B: It is Constitutional that plea bargaining exists in this country. The criminal justice system is defined as "a set of legal and social institutions [that fit] in accordance with a defined set of rules and limitations". This resolution is explicitly about the United States, where the "defined set of rules" is the Constitution, which states in Article 1 Section 8 Clause 18 that "The Congress shall have Power - To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper". According to the European Association of Law and Economics, "plea-bargaining was unnecessary … in the United States" until the 19th century, at which point it became necessary. Therefore, Congress is legally and morally obliged to codify plea bargaining, which has been done in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The United States Criminal Justice System complies with plea bargaining, not only in a realistic sense, but in a legal sense as well.

For the aforementioned reasons, we strongly urge a CON ballot today. Thank you.
RougeFox

Pro

I affirm the resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system.

First, I would like to examine the wording of the resolution. It specifically says "undermine" Thus the pro does not have to advocate a ban. The pro's responsibility is simply to show that plea bargaining has some sort of a detrimental effect. If it shows this, then it wins the round.

With this in mind, the pro offers a counter definition to "undermine". Princeton wordnet defines undermine as "to weaken" Therefore, if the pro shows that plea bargaining weakens any part of the Criminal Justice System, it wins the round.

Contention 1: Plea bargaining dilutes the standard of truth
Sub Point A)
Innocents are convicted because of the lack of evidence
It is common knowledge that less evidence is used in a plea bargain than a trial. And, according to Jeff Palmer, writing in the criminal law journal, that evidence is not reviewed adequately by judges. In fact, he states that judges spend only approximately 60-90 seconds looking over the evidence. This is clearly inadequate. At this point, it is only a formality. It is impossible for the judge to determine whether the evidence is sufficient. This creates means that it is assumed that the defendant is guilty and the prosecutor has gathered enough evidence. Now, the prosecutor is likely unconcerned whether the defendant is innocent because he or she just wants to get through as many cases as possible for financial rewards and helping his or her reputation. Combine this with the fact that, in a plea bargain, a prosecutor can withhold evidence which would exonerate a defendant, then the chances that an innocent would be pressed into a bargain are extremely high. Although exact statistics on the amount of innocents convicted through plea bargaining are unknown, plea bargaining has a much more lax evidential standard and this can lead to an innocent person being coerced into a plea bargain.
Sub Point B.) The lower amount leads to less truth and less justice
In a plea bargain, again, less evidence is presented. This means that there is a much lower chance that it will be the right person or the right crime. In America, we are supposed to be "innocent until proved guilty". However, according to crimeandfederalism.com, there have been several instances in which the coerced, guilty plea was pretty much the only evidence used, and innocents were convicted.

Contention 2: Plea bargaining leads to arbitrariness.
In plea bargaining, the prosecutor is able to decide the fate of the defendant, essentially without the involvement of the judge and absolutely without a jury. The judge is essentially a non-factor because he or she is not present while the deal is being hammered out and because the judge, again, usually only spends approximately 60 - 90 seconds reviewing the evidence. Also, the judge has strong incentives to not overturn a plea bargain, even if he/she thinks the defendant is innocent because the defendant has already pleaded guilty and will likely be convicted in trial anyway regardless of his or her innocence because of the guilty plea. Essentially, once the defendant is coerced into plea bargaining, they are unable to escape without consequences. It is easy to imagine that one prosecutor is more likely to be biased than an entire jury and judge, who is trained to be impartial. Thus, plea bargaining opens the criminal justice system up to discrimination.

In review, the affirmative has show that plea bargaining is certainly a mechanism for convicting innocents. Also, it leads to a diluted standard of truth, undermining America's core values of "innocent until proved guilty" and proved "beyond reasonable doubt". Finally, it leads to easy possible discrimination by a prosecutor, since all of these are undermining effects the con must prove all these points wrong or you default pro. Thank you


Because this is to be done in Public Forum Debate Style, I assume that I will ask my crossfire questions now and my opponent will answer and ask in round 2

1.) Are you putting a price on justice with your efficiency argument?

2.) Do you agree that people should be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt?

3.) Although the Supreme Court ruled coercion illegal, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist so why is this point relevant?

4.) Why is your contention 2, subpoint A relevant? Something can be Constitutional and not undermining?

5.) Do you think your entire Contention 2, but especially subpoint B is a little defensive?

6.) Where in your case do you supply a warrant for either of your subpoints in you contention 2?

Debate Round No. 1
ds

Con

1.) Are you putting a price on justice with your efficiency argument?
No, I'm putting a price on maintaining plea bargaining. If we were trying to attain justice, then money should not inhibit our efforts. However, we have a just society. There is a 70% conviction rate, a 1:450 police officer to citizen ratio, and the strongest legal system in the world with equal rights and privileges for all, including an extensive Constitution and accompanying Bill of Rights.

2.) Do you agree that people should be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt?
In a trial, yes. However, the entire notion of a plea bargain is that it is a bargain. By accepting the bargain, the defendant is intentionally waiving some of his or her Constitutional rights in exchange for a lighter sentence.

3.) Although the Supreme Court ruled coercion illegal, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist so why is this point relevant?
You are trying to say that coercion exists in plea bargaining. However, as proven in Machibroda v. the United States and furthermore in Boykin v. Alabama, by definition, a plea bargain cannot be coerced. Put simply, if there is coercion, it is not a plea bargain. Any examples of coercion must be dropped in this round for that reason.

4.) Why is your contention 2, subpoint A relevant? Something can be Constitutional and not undermining?
As the negative, I simply have to prove that plea bargaining does not undermine the criminal justice system. The Supreme Court has commented on and has ruled that plea bargaining does not undermine the criminal justice system. If you want to contest the Supreme Court of the United States, be my guest. As to the Constitutionality, because the criminal justice system is defined and structured by the Constitution, if it complies with the Constitution, it complies with and therefore cannot be undermining the criminal justice system.

5.) Do you think your entire Contention 2, but especially subpoint B is a little defensive?
No, I don't. As I mentioned in the answer to the above question, the Constitution is the defined set of rules and limitations by which we live and the criminal justice system operates. Plea bargaining is Constitutional, so therefore it is an active and necessary part of the criminal justice system, that cannot be undermining it.

6.) Where in your case do you supply a warrant for either of your subpoints in you contention 2?
The warrants are in plain sight. The two Constitutional court cases listed and the very Constitution provide evidence that support and enhance my case.

Now to ask a few questions of my opponent...

1) Do you know what, legally, most occur for a plea bargain to take effect?

2) How many people are falsely convicted for plea bargaining?

3) Who benefits out of a plea bargain? Who suffers?

I will raise more points in the next round.
RougeFox

Pro

1.) Do you know what, legally, most occur for a plea bargain to take effect?

Yes. However, I assume you are going to take this to mean coercion doesn't exist. However, your response to coercion is abusive and blipy. You are redefining plea bargaining so that it only includes the situations in which it supports your side. However, when you look to your definition, clearly, a "verdict and sentence without a complete trial" can be negotiated with coercive elements. So, in that respect, your answer was abusive. Second, it is a blipy response. Rather than try to argue against it, you dodge it and provide no counter evidence.

2) How many people are falsely convicted for plea bargaining?

An exact number is unknown. However, according to the economic reviewer, "approximately 240 people who were convicted of a crime have been exonerated using DNA; of these, 25% involved some form of false confession." Clearly, even in cases when the defendant knows there is DNA evidence exonerating them, they are still coerced to plead guilty. Back to Dowden, he furthers that prosecutors charge two people for the same exact crime, and that in some cases, two people plead guilty to the same crime. Although exact numbers are unknown, it is clear it happens.

3) Who benefits out of a plea bargain? Who suffers?

The beneficiary is the prosecutor who has strong incentives to plea bargain as outlined in the constructive. The defendant and victim suffer. Innocent defendants suffer because, well, they are punished for doing nothing wrong. Victims suffer when the defendant is guilty because they get no say in the procedure. I could show you numerous times when a sentence has clearly been too lenient and has elicited an emotional response from the victim.
Debate Round No. 2
ds

Con

My opponents case is lacking in factuality and additionally contains several gaps in the logic which I will point out throughout this rebuttal. Looking at the top of my opponent's case, they offer a definition of undermine that they claim to be given by Princeton Wordnet. However, they have omitted several critical elements that the definition includes, such as "destroy property or hinder normal operations". Even with their definition however, we can agree therefore, that as the negative I must prove that the criminal justice system is not weakened by plea bargaining.

In my opponent's first contention, they state that judges disregard evidence in plea bargains and pass them with less formality than a trial. However, as determined in Machibroda v. The United States, there are two main criteria for passing a plea bargain. One, the defendant, prosecution, and judge must all agree to the plea bargain, and, accoding to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 11 Section b Subsection 2, the court and the defendant must ensure that the plea was not coerced, or it is void. Second, all three aforementioned parties must agree that the plea bargain was made a) voluntarily, b) knowingly, and c) with a factual basis. Parts a and b, along with the Supreme Court Case Boykin v. Alabama, eliminate coercion as an option. With the inclusion of part c, my opponent's entire first contention becomes irrelevant.

My opponent has tried to offer refutations to this point, accusing me of twisting and contriving the wording to my advantage. However, the resolution states: "Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system". Plea bargaining, by definition, cannot be coerced, or it is void, and no longer a plea bargain. Therefore, the only cases that are truly plea bargains and can be used in this round, are those that are not coerced.

Also in my opponent's case, they complain that with plea bargain innocent are put into jail at an unsettling frequency. My refutation to this is simply, that is incorrect. Plea bargaining results in a lower false conviction rate than jury trials. According to the CATO Institute in partnership with the Innocence Project, jury trials have a false conviction rate of 0.5-0.6%. After a plea bargain, however, they find that the false conviction rate is actually only 0.25%, more than a 50% reduction in the frequency of false convictions.

My opponent furthermore says that the defendants rights such as being "innocent until proven guilty" and "proof beyond reasonable doubt" are violated through a plea bargain. However, I would once again like to point out that plea bargains must be made knowingly, voluntarily, and with a factual basis. Therefore, any waiving of rights is done voluntarily, which leads me to my next point: it is a BARGAIN. By entering a plea bargain, both sides will give a little and gain a little. The defendant is not losing his rights, nor are they violated. He is intentionally and voluntarily waiving his rights for a reduction in the severity of the sentence.

My opponent has criticized my case for trying to put a price on justice. However, as I have said, we have a just society, between the 70% conviction rate and a 1:450 police officer to citizen ratio. As they have condoned my efficiency argument, they have clearly ignored just how vital plea bargaining is. According to Michael Kinlsey of Harvard Law, 95% of criminal convictions are settled by plea bargaining. According to former Chief Justice Warren Burger, "even a 10% reduction in plea bargains would double the number of trials" in the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system relies on plea bargaining, and without it, would indubitably collapse. Therefore, without plea bargaining, the system would be weakened, the opposite of that which my opponent is trying to prove.

In the last crossfire, I asked my opponent who benefitted and who suffered from a plea bargain. He replied that the prosecutor benefits while the defendant suffers. However, let us weigh the effects of a plea bargain. On the prosecution, their job is sped and eased through a plea bargain. The judge benefits as they too have their job sped, and as my opponent has said the judge is usually overburdened. The defendant, in contrary to what my opponent has said, benefits out of the plea bargain. As I have said, according to Candace McCoy, law professor at the University of New York, reports that the average length of a prison term after a jury trial is 212.6 months, nearly 18 years. After a plea bargain, that is lowered, on average, to 23.6 months, almost 2 years. If a plea bargain allows the defendant to reduce his conviction by 900%, he definitely benefits. This may raise concern that the public is harmed from this reduction in charge. However, criminals that pose a danger or risk cannot engage in a plea bargain. These include sex offenders and drunk drivers. As I have stated, justice is defined by Princeton University as "what is legally or ethically right or proper or fitting". The system, therefore, is intact to serve society in the greatest way possible. All of society benefits through plea bargaining, and therefore the criminal justice system is doing its job, and clearly not weakening or undermining it.

In conclusion, I have proven that:
a) My opponent's first contention is not only irrelevant but untrue.
b) A plea bargain cannot be coerced, or it cannot be classified as a plea bargain.
c) The innocent are protected better through plea bargaining than through a jury trial.
d) Rights are not violated, rather they are knowingly waived.
e) The criminal justice system relies on plea bargaining for its survival.
f) Society as a whole benefits from the existence of plea bargaining.

For these reasons, my opponent's case fails to surpass my own, and you must vote for CON in this debate. Thank you.
RougeFox

Pro

1.As a brief roadmap I will do the following:

1.Extend my unrefuted arguments

2. Refute my opponent
's arguments

3. Defend my own case

4. Ask my crossfire questions

Extensions
Silence is concession, especially since my opponent had approximately 2,000 more characters to write with

Extend my examination of the resolution that "the pro's responsibility is simply to show that plea bargaining has ssome sort of a detrimental effect. If it shows this, then it wins the round."

Also Extend "since all of these are undermining effects the con must prove all these points wrong or you default pro."

My opponent has made a grave tactical error by not challenging these observations

Okay, now I just have to extend one point to win because my opponent did not challenge my interpretation. I will extend the following

My entire 2nd Contention that Plea bargaining leads to arbitrariness.
There was no rebuttal to this so it is extended entirely. I showed how there is little judicial involvement and that this leads to discrimination. This alone is sufficient reason to affirm.

Part of my Contention 1, subpoint A
The prosecutor can withhold evidence that can exonerate a defendant. This also links into the fact that prosecutors have too much power. Also, my opponent cannot try to define this out of the round because this is done with legal plea bargains.

Innocents
A.) My opponent provided evidence which shows that innocents are being convicted through plea bargaining. The piece about trials is irrelevant because pro doesn't have to advocate a ban.
B.) Dowden, who I cited in crossfire, says that prosecutors try multiple people for the same crime and get multiple pleas for the same crime. Obviously innocents are being convicted.

At this point, just based upon my extensions, I have won the round. But, just in case you don't buy that, I will move on to my opponent's case.

Refutation of my opponent's case
Contention One: Plea bargaining balances the Criminal Justice System financially and prevents an overflow of criminal trials. Without plea bargaining, the system would be inhibited by far too many cases. The Criminal Justice System relies on plea bargaining, and without it, it would suffer.

I have 4 responses to this
1.) According to Albert Alschuler, professor of law at the University of Colorado, plea bargaining does not conserve resources or time because plea bargaining itself uses many resources which are unjustifiable in a supposedly overburdened system

2.) Delay tactics are frequently used by prosecutors in order to induce a plea because defendants are put in jail before the bargain. This is called pretrial confinement. The longer a defendant stays in pretrial confinement, which is indefinite, the more likely they will plea bargain.

3.) Alschuler furthers by saying that, when plea bargaining has been banned, especially in Alaska, there has been an increase in efficiency.

4.) Even if you don't buy the above, it is not the pro's job to advocate a ban necessarily, so dependency cannot be looked to

My opponent has done his/her own analysis on a bunch of irrelevant statistics. They do not know if the studies were using the same definitions, ect. So, they cannot be combined or looked to.

Even if you don't buy that, my opponent has not prove that the U.S. can't put more resources into the criminal justice system so they are irrelevant.

Contention Two: Plea bargaining has legal procedures that yield its constitutionality.
I have 3 responses to that

1.) My opponent assumes that something that is constitutional cannot be undermining. They have not provided why this is so.

2.) My opponent assumes that because coercion is illegal, it doesn't exist. However, I showed you that it does because prosecutors get multiple pleas to the same crime and pretrial confinement

3.) Something can be a necessary evil so to speak. This furthers why this point is irrelevant.

Defense of my Case
As I showed previously, coercion can exist even in a "legal" plea bargain. If he wants to call pretrial confinement and multiple people pleading guilty to the same thing not coercion oh well. These elements exist and are certainly not good. He can't define these points away. It is naive to think that coercion does not exist because it is illegal. My opponent must show that all plea bargains with any form of coercion are rendered null and void by the judge. Consider, on average, judges only spend approximately 60 - 90 seconds on each plea bargain, I doubt this happens. They have tried to dodge and define their way out of it instead of confronting it, which is a mistake for them. So coercion stands.

My opponent has not shown that innocents are not put to jail. My opponent, in fact,
proved that it does. They mention stats about trials but that is irrelevant because the resolution is about plea bargains not trial. So, the point about innocents stands.


In order for my opponent's refutation of my reasonable doubt to stand, my opponent must prove that coercion does not exist, yet I proved it does.

My opponent quotes some irrelevant statistics about the criminal justice system, and deduces that plea bargaining can't be undermined if the criminal justice system is working. However, this is the Fallacy of Division because, just because the whole is working, doesn't mean the parts are. Again, the statistics don't link to plea bargaining so they are irrelevant.

In response to my cross fire response my opponent quotes more irrelevant statistics. My opponent's statistics only regard cases which lead to jail time which are not the majority of cases. So, this part is irrelevant. Also, my opponent observes that sentences are reduced by 900%. This greatly reduces the severity of punishment, which is important in deterrence of crime, according to Valerie Wright, PHD. So, turn this point because plea bargaining undermines deterrence.

Finally, I would like to review my opponent's letters at the end of their speech.

A.) My first contention, in fact, stands
B.) Coercion can exist, this is a blipy response
C.) Innocents are being convicted. Trials are irrelevant
D.) See Coercion, or whatever word you want to call it
E.) It actually doesn't. Germany gets by fine without it. And, this doesn't matter
F.) Plea bargaining has an undermining effect.

I will again stress that my extensions mean the only possible vote is pro.

Crossfire Questions

1.) Why do you dodge coercion?

2.) Even if it is not considered coercion, why is pretrial confinement and charging and getting pleas from two people for the same crime not bad?

3.) What study did Chief Justice Berger make/cite to arrive at his conclusion?

4.) Why is his assertion valid?

5.) Why can't we divert more resources to the criminal justice system?

Debate Round No. 3
ds

Con

ds forfeited this round.
RougeFox

Pro

Extend everything and vote pro.
Debate Round No. 4
ds

Con

ds forfeited this round.
RougeFox

Pro

Vote pro.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
dsRougeFoxTied
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