The Instigator
greatdebater_1
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining in exchange for testimony is unjust

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/17/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,432 times Debate No: 6967
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

greatdebater_1

Pro

Value: Justice
Value Criteria: Societal Welfare
1. Justice is that which allows people their due process
2. Justice is that which protects society

Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony fails to protect society
o Certain crimes are to receive certain punishments and when those requirements are not met, someone could wind up getting hurt; in the sense that prison time teaches you a lesson, and with not enough prison time, you do not learn your lesson.
o Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony presents criminals with the mindset that if they commit more crimes their sentence can be commuted by ratting out their friends. In addition, it puts more criminals out into society because with shorter prison sentences they get out earlier. This is dangerous, because crime levels could rise to such a place in which it occurs at an uncontrollable rate.
o In addition, the innocent are put at greater risk by plea bargaining because innocent individuals may plead guilty out of pressure and the evidence presented in court.

Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony tends to falsely incriminate people.
o Many times, if prosecutors think there is one suspect who is more dangerous to society than some of his or her partners in crime, they'll cut a deal with the others.

Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony takes away the integrity of the justice system
o Our justice system is to be a straight forward, non-biased one. Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony makes it so opposite from that. As they help law, they will let them reap their own benefits.
o Plea bargaining is a negotiation of the Double Jeopardy law in the bill of rights.
o Not only does plea bargaining open space for wayward decision, but it has a great potential for abuse. A person who plea bargains for his testimony is not a very credible person to testify. If there is corroborating evidence to support the testimony that's one thing, but I'm sure that many a criminal has testified a certain way just to save their own lives.
An example of this happening is the 1996 case of Marvin Thomas Nissen. He lied during a plea and put John Lotter on death row. It wasn't until recently that he admitted to lying, and Mr. Lotter was taken off of the death row.
It has been confirmed that in the United States, the main reason that plea bargaining takes place is to avoid the uncertainties of a trial. But, do the "uncertainties of a trial" really have to affect justice?

There are many other ways for a court to acquire a confession from a criminal than offering to waver their sentence.
o There are several of humane interrogation types that agencies such as the FBI use to keep our country safe.
o Specialists on body language are able to tell whether or not a person is lying. By using that, they are able to force the true information out of a person
Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony might save money, but it is still unjust
o Justice should not be affected by things such as money. How does money determine what right from wrong?
o As the US is so called saving money, victims are getting the dissatisfaction; as would anybody else whose culprit was not being sentenced as he or she should.

In conclusion, the law is not something to sell. Crimes are not something to bargain with. Justice must be served, but it must remain above the fray, above the marketplace. The safety of our children and the integrity of the legal system must remain inviolate. One person is no better than another simply because they roll over for the police.
Sources: Duke Law Journal -Yahoo News - Cnn.com
Danielle

Con

I agree with Pro's value and value criteria.

Re: Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony fails to protect society.

- The argument that not enough prison time won't properly teach someone a lesson is a bad one. First, everybody is different and thus some people may need a shorter "I've learned my lesson time" than others. Second, many people in society favor rehabilitation over imprisonment.

- Your idea that people "ratting out their friend" in exchange for a shorter prison sentence puts more criminals out on the street seems contradictory. If five people commit a crime and one is arrested, and that one person "rats out" their friends in exchange for a shorter sentence, it is likely that the other four perpetrators will be convicted for their crime and thus all five (or at least four) perpetrators will be kept off of the streets instead of just one.

- If an innocent individual chooses to plead guilty for a crime that they didn't commit, it would only be because they feel the evidence against them is compelling enough that it would render a verdict of Guilty from the jury/judge. In that case, the only other outcome would be that they didn't plea bargain, were found Guilty, and instead suffered a higher penalty for a crime they still didn't commit.

Re: Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony tends to falsely incriminate people.

- Your argument is that if prosecutors think there is one suspect who is more dangerous to society than some of his or her partners in crime, they'll cut a deal with the others. First, I don't see how that supports false incrimination. Second, I don't see why this is a bad thing for society in general. While it may be unjust for some people who commit lesser crimes to get away with what they've done, if in exchange they help to punish a person who causes more harm to society, than it seems justice prevails in the sense that the law in this instance is taking greater measures to protect society rather than punish offenders... and isn't that the purpose of government anyway?

Re: Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony takes away the integrity of the justice system.

- You claim that our justice system is to be a straight forward, non-biased one. While that definitely sounds good on paper, that is not the reality of the ways of the world. The legal system is HARDLY ever straight forward, and if you disagree, it is your burden to prove otherwise. That is not the way the system works, nor do I believe that it is intended to work that way. "There are exceptions to everything" is a popular phrase for a reason. Further, you have yet to prove that plea bargaining is especially biased. For instance, the most common plea bargains pertain to traffic offenses. There is little bias in terms of penalties and bargaining restrictions in those types of cases.

- Next you claim that, "Plea bargaining is a negotiation of the Double Jeopardy law in the bill of rights." I think you have a gross misunderstanding of plea bargaining and its intention in regard to Double Jeopardy here! In the United States, defendants have a right to a speedy trial under both the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as by statute. The meaning of "speedy" is not fixed in terms of a specified amount of time, but is determined according to the circumstances. However, if the speedy trial is not held, the case is dismissed and the defendant cannot again be charged with the crime (Double Jeopardy). By plea bargaining, prosecutors can reduce the number of cases set for trial so that cases do not get dismissed [1]. In other words, plea bargaining seeks to ensure that justice is upheld by not automatically letting criminals go free based on the fact that our legal system is completely over-crowded. It does not negotiate the essential principal behind Double Jeopardy at all.

- You've got a valid point in suggesting that the credibility of a witnesses testimony in order to skew their own judgment in a plea bargain case may be slightly off kilter. However, this is a possibility regarding ANY testimony. People can/have/will lie under oath all the time for a plethora of reasons. If you are going to discredit a plea bargain testimony, I'd offer that you shouldn't hold ANY testimony where the witness might hold even the slightest of bias (and even if they don't) under the supposition that their claims may be false. Moreover, a witness is more likely to testify if they are coerced by entitlements of a plea bargain. This means that a major factor of our legal system is affected, often in a positive way, by the enticement of a reduced or eliminated sentence on behalf of the witness. And in response to your example about someone lying under oath in order to wrongly incriminate someone, I can just as easily cite one or MANY examples of people coming forth and helping prosecutors build and win cases because of plea bargaining alone. For the sake of brevity, I'll refrain for now unless otherwise requested.

- You wrote, "It has been confirmed that in the United States, the main reason that plea bargaining takes place is to avoid the uncertainties of a trial." I disagree, so please show me where this has been "confirmed." It is my understanding, again, that the purpose of plea bargaining is to ensure a speedy trial by jury (re: my argument on Double Jeopardy and Constitutional Rights), and to increase the likelihood of witnesses testifying to help prosecute other, more dangerous criminals and threats to society. There is also a mutual gain between the individual and the State in many cases, such as traffic violations being reduced (saving the individual money on car insurance and the likelihood of their licenses being suspended, for example) in exchange for necessary funding for the State, without which a proper legal system would not even be possible.

Re: There are many other ways for a court to acquire a confession from a criminal than offering to waver their sentence.

- You've said, "There are several of humane interrogation types that agencies such as the FBI use to keep our country safe." My question is - So what? What does that have to do with anything? I could argue this further, but I'll wait for your explanation first.

- You've also stated, "Specialists on body language are able to tell whether or not a person is lying. By using that, they are able to force the true information out of a person." If that's true, then these 'specialists' would also be able to tell if someone were lying in terms of the plea bargain. This would negate your other arguments regarding the validity of the witnesses testimony.

Re: Plea bargaining in exchange for testimony might save money, but it is still unjust

- You posed the question, in terms of justice and money, "How does money determine what right from wrong?" Well it does if a lack of funding affects the legal system's ability to efficiently prosecute those who are awaiting or even on trial. With the overcrowded problem in today's establishments, it's fair to assume that legal authorities have to "pick their battles." Also, that's just the immediate answer; I haven't even gotten into how money affects justice in general.

- You claim, "As the US is so called saving money, victims are getting the dissatisfaction." Not true. The US saves money and in return society obtains the benefits of those fiscal savings (i.e. lower taxes). They also have their rights upheld (speedy trial). Finally they are more likely to be protected from society's dangerous threats via plea bargain's allure.

In conclusion, first, Pro's sources are not properly linked; I would appreciate more accurate quotation and citation in future rounds. Second, regarding the V/VC's of justice and societal welfare, I agree. Plea Bargaining encourages and ensures both criteria in the form of upholding constitutional rights,and protecting society from dangerous offenders.

[1] http://www.nationmaster.com...
Debate Round No. 1
greatdebater_1

Pro

My opponent has not given any properly linked sources. Moreover since she agrees with my value as well as my value criterion, I feel that I have already won this debate.
Danielle

Con

I'm not entirely sure why my opponent failed to debate any actual issues or counter-arguments I have made during Round One. She seems to think that because I agreed with her value and value criteria that she has "already won" this debate. I'm not entirely sure what she thinks her point is, but in a debate, the two opponents can (and are often supposed to) use the same value/criteria and thus I have done nothing but effectively argue my side of the debate even on her terms. If that doesn't signal an obvious win for the Con, then I don't know what does. Further, I apologize for my faulty link (haha - that was ironic). The proper citation can be found here [1]. On that note, I wish to extend all of my arguments. Hopefully my opponent puts forth at least a little effort in the next round. If not, I will re-state my position in Round Three and encourage a vote for the Con. Thank you.

[1] http://www.nationmaster.com...
Debate Round No. 2
greatdebater_1

Pro

greatdebater_1 forfeited this round.
Danielle

Con

Danielle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 8 years ago
I-am-a-panda
Oh snapples....well I stole some guys debate yesterday so I'm good.
Posted by Danielle 8 years ago
Danielle
Beat ya to it.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 8 years ago
I-am-a-panda
Might just take this one.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Danielle 8 years ago
Danielle
greatdebater_1DanielleTied
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Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
greatdebater_1DanielleTied
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