Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cousins Punished for Exercising Their Right to a Jury Trial

Two cousins who exercised their right to a jury trial in a federal criminal anti-trust price fixing case have been punished for it by receiving twice the time as the ringleaders. Read more about this in the Indianapolis Star article titled "Cousins get 2 years in concrete scheme - Prison term nearly twice that of plea-bargaining ringleaders".

I've said for a while that the current prosecutorial-biased plea bargaining system rewards the guilty and punishes the innocent and those not as culpable as alleged. It also punishes those who believe there is a dispute whether the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt whether they committed the crime and ask for their constitutional right to a jury trial.

And to those who think criminal cases are black and white (obviously guilty or not guilty) have never studied the thousands of pages of court decisions arguing over the gray issues.

Right now, one of the worse things that can happen to an innocent person in the United States is to be charged with a crime in the federal system. Currently, the federal criminal justice system actually gives incentives for people to lie about their involvement in a crime - if they lie and say they did worse things then they did and say the same things about other innocent people, they'll get rewarded with a plea agreement. You'll also get credit for "acceptance of responsibility". Your sentence is a lot less

Your reward for exercising your right to a jury trial and losing - double the time of the ringleaders.

What an unfair system. Whatever happened to the rule of law? (Of yeah, that went away with the Patriot Act and the campaign finance laws used to stifle free speech and the competition).

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