September 24, 2003


New Plea Bargain Limits Could Swamp Courts, Experts Say (ADAM LIPTAK and ERIC LICHTBLAU, September 24, 2003, NY Times)

If Attorney General John Ashcroft's new directive limiting the use of plea bargains in federal prosecutions were enforced to the letter, legal experts said, the criminal justice system would soon face a crisis.

"If even just a small fraction of the 96 percent of all defendants who currently plead guilty end up going to trial, the courts will be overrun in no time," said Marc Mauer, the assistant director of the Sentencing Project, a research group in Washington that supports prisoners' rights. [...]

Whatever Mr. Ashcroft's motives and goals, the directive's practical impact could be enormous.

David Burnham, co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which tracks data on federal law enforcement, said the Justice Department could not significantly reduce plea bargains "without collapsing the entire court system."

You'd think the Left, which is so properly suspicious of George W. Bush's motivations would figure these things out quicker. You're entering an era of complete Republican dominance of the White House and Senate and the President just proposed a rule change that would make it necessary to add a ton of new federal judges. It's as radical as FDR's court packing plan only it's being done by a more subtle mind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 24, 2003 9:35 AM

Exactly what I thought. I'd say great minds think alike, but mine is hardly great.

Posted by: Chris at September 25, 2003 1:24 PM