The overwhelming majority of criminal convictions in the United States result not from jury verdicts but from pleas of guilty. In this course we will examine pleas, plea bargaining, and trials in the disposition of criminal cases. What is the place of negotiation in an adversary system? What are negotiations really like? What are its consequences for individuals and society? We will begin with an overview of the adversary system and the criminal trial, and then turn to plea bargaining -- its origins, its nature, and its consequences. We will consider the desirability and feasibility of alternatives to plea bargaining as the dominant mode of case disposition, including bans on plea bargaining, bench trials, and changes to the jury trial itself.
Students will read a selection of articles from a variety of
disciplines. Representative examples include the following:
Bradley, Craig M. 1993. "Reforming the Criminal Trial." "Indiana Law Journal" 68:659-54.
Brereton, David, and Jonathan Casper. 1982. "Does It Pay to Plea Guilty? Differential Sentencing and the Function of the Criminal Courts." "Law and Society Review" 16:45.
Friedman, Lawrence M. 1979. "Plea Bargaining in Historical Perspective." "Law and Society Review" 13:247-258.
Landsman, Stephan. 1988. "Introduction to the Adversary System." In "Readings on Adversarial Justice: The American Approach to Adjudication," ed. Stephan Landsman, Section of Litigation American Bar Association. American Casebook Series. St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co, pp. 1-39.
Schulhofer, Stephen J. "No Job Too Small: Justice Without Bargaining in the Lower Criminal Courts." "American Bar Foundation Research Journal" 1985:519-98.