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Guilty Plea: Plea Bargaining

Definition And Types Of Bargaining, The Development Of Plea Bargaining, A Comparative Perspective, Operation Of The Plea Bargaining System

"There is no glory in plea bargaining," writes Professor George Fisher. "In place of a noble clash for truth, plea bargaining gives us a skulking truce . . . . Plea bargaining may be . . . the invading barbarian. But it has won all the same" (p. 859). In the late 1990s, 94 percent of the convictions of state-court felony defendants in the seventy-five largest U.S. counties were by guilty plea rather than trial (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999, p. iv). Similarly, 94 percent of all federal-court felony convictions were by guilty plea (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000, p. 51). Professor John Langbein, a prominent plea bargaining critic, suggests that Americans replace the word all in the Constitutional declaration, "The Trial of all Crimes . . . shall be by jury," with the words virtually none (Langbein, 1992). Plea bargaining has made our criminal justice system far more administrative than adjudicative in character.



Bordenkircher v. Hayes, 434 U.S. 357 (1978).

Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742 (1970).

McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759 (1970).

North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970).

Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257 (1971).

United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570 (1968).

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law