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NCJ Number: 66767 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: ON THE ELIMINATION OF PLEA-BARGAINING - THE EL PASO (TX) EXPERIMENT (FROM PLEA-BARGAINING, 1980, BY WILLIAM F MCDONALD AND JAMES A CRAMER - SEE NCJ-66765)
Author(s): H C DAUDISTEL
Corporate Author: Lexington Books
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Lexington Books
New York, NY 10022
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 77-NI-99-0049
Dataset: DATASET 1
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE ELIMINATION OF PLEA BARGAINING IN FELONY COURTS IN EL PASO, TEX., IN 1975 BROUGHT ABOUT A POINT SYSTEM THAT PRESENTED A NEW SET OF PROBLEMS.
Abstract: EL PASO'S POINT SYSTEM PROVIDED NO SPECIAL INCENTIVE FOR PLEADING GUILTY. ALSO, THE GUILTY PLEA WOULD NOT GUARANTEE ANY LESSER SENTENCE THAN MIGHT BE IMPOSED IF A DEFENDANT WERE FOUND GUILTY AT TRIAL. THE FELONY COURT JUDGES WHO DRAFTED THE POINT SYSTEM ARGUED THAT IT WOULD GIVE DEFENDANTS A WAY TO ESTIMATE THEIR SENTENCES WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF CERTAINTY, AND WITH NO THREAT THAT THE SENTENCE WOULD BE HARSHER IF THE DEFENDANT WENT TO TRIAL AND WAS FOUND GUILTY, AS LONG AS THE SENTENCING WAS PRONOUNCED BY A JUDGE. AFTER MORE THAN 2 YEARS WITHOUT PLEA-BARGAINING, THE COURTS FACED AN UNPRECEDENTED BACKLO OF UNRESOLVED CASES BECAUSE THE POINT SYSTEM ENCOURAGED RELATIVELY FEW DEFENDANTS TO PLEAD GUILTY. IN 1978, THE FELONY COURTS BEGAN TO ACCEPT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM PROBATION OFFICERS IN THE COURT SERVICES BUREAU, WHO MADE IT CLEAR THAT THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS WERE VALID FOR THOSE WHO PLEAD GUILTY. UNABLE TO CHECK THE BURGEONING CASE BACKLOG, THE TWO EL PASO FELONY COURTS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR CRIMINAL CASES SOUGHT THE HELP OF CIVIL DISTRICT COURT JUDGES. REVIEW OF THE CONFLICTS THAT GENERATED AND THEN GREW FROM THE POINT SYSTEM BROUGHT OUT THE DEFENSE BAR'S RESISTENCE TO THE PLEA-BARGAINING POLICY. ALTHOUGH THEY COULD HAVE USED THE POINT SYSTEM TO ENCOURAGE THEIR CLIENTS TO PLEAD GUILTY, THEY FELT THEY COULD NOT HIGHLIGHT THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THEIR CLIENTS' CASES ADEQUATELY WITHOUT NEGOTIATIONS, AND THUS, RISKED TRIAL. MOREOVER, THE POINT SYSTEM MAY HAVE EQUALIZED THE FELONY COURT JUDGES' SENTENCES, BUT ITS LATENT CONSEQUENCE WAS TO FORCE MORE CASES TO JURIES, WHICH SENTENCED ACCORDING TO DIFFERENT STANDARDS. THUS WHEN PLEA-BARGAINI STOPPED, EL PASO'S PROBLEMS ROOTED THEMSELVES IN THE INHERENT LIMITATIONS OF WRITTEN POLICIES AND THE LEGAL CONTEXT IN WHICH COURTS MUST FUNCTION. OVERALL, THE POINT SYSTEM DID NOT REPRESENT AGREEMENT ABOUT WHAT WAS RELEVANT TO CRIMINAL CASES. REFERENCES ARE SUPPLIED. (MHP)
Index Term(s): Court case flow; Felony; Law reform; Plea negotiations; Pleas; Texas; Trial courts
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66767

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