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Plea bargaining - time for change?


Ardillaun

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Jun 4, 2010
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Ireland seems to have particular difficulty in prosecuting white collar crime. Historically, this has been an irritant but now the credibility of the state is being threatened by our inability to pursue such dangerous wrongdoing. Is it time to introduce plea bargaining into criminal trials (via a constitutional amendment if necessary) in cases of serious white collar crime? I know that such procedures can result in serious miscarriages of justice but there seems to be no viable alternative.
 


Rocky

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Shatter brought a very wide ranging Wide Collar Crime Act early in the government's term. Like all criminal law it can't be applied retrospectively, but it should make a big difference in the future.
 

Ardillaun

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No. In the us the system of plea bargaining has simply transferred power from judges to the prosecution. It no means that the conviction rate is above 99%. Virtually everyone accused is threatened into pleading guilty to something, or being bribed into lying about the guilt of others. It's a disastrous system that absorbs 10% of us GDP.
I would like see it applied specifically to white collar cases involving fraud and elaborate conspiracies, not to drug possession etc. At the moment, it would appear that fraudsters at the upper end of the Irish food chain have very little to fear from the courts. I sincerely hope that far longer sentences are handed out over the next few years than Garlicman got for a relatively small and simple crime, but I'm not holding my breath.

Plea bargaining has not ruined Canada's system. It's a drastic step but given the circumstances I think it should be considered for sophisticated frauds involving very large sums of money. Juries have a hard time understanding the technical evidence in such cases and it's a lot easier to get the gist of things when a subordinate explains what went on in court.
 
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seabhcan

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I would like see it applied specifically to white collar cases involving fraud and elaborate conspiracies, not to drug possession etc. At the moment, it would appear that fraudsters at the upper end of the Irish food chain have very little to fear from the courts. I sincerely hope that far longer sentences are handed out over the next few years than Garlicman got for a relatively small and simple crime, but I'm not holding my breath.

Plea bargaining has not ruined Canada's system. It's a drastic step but given the circumstances I think it should be considered for sophisticated frauds involving very large sums of money. Juries have a hard time understanding the technical evidence in such cases and it's a lot easier to get the gist of things when a subordinate explains what went on in court.
This is how plea barganing works in the US for white collar crime:

A prosecutor decides there has been a crime. He comes up with some spurious 'evidence' against someone, anyone, in the target organisation. It can be a low level clerk, a customer or a supplier, or an ex-employee with an axe to grind. Some sample charges are dreamt up. Perhap someone is caught with drugs or child porn or something. That person is locked away on a friday evening and left to stew in prison over the weekend. On the Monday they are given a choice - they are told that they are facing 10-15 years in prison. They are told their wife is also implicated. They are told their house will be taken away. However, they are told, the real criminal is their boss/customer/supplier/etc and if they will testify against that person, the charges will be dropped or reduced. 'I don't know anything', they say. The prosecutor says 'well, that is unfortunate. Perhaps you can jog your memory over the next months and years in confinement.' Later that day, the prisoner 'remembers' something and the prosecutor constructs the plea bargain documents. They go and arrest more people, and repeat the process.

Its a scam. 25% of all prisoners in the world are in the US. Its a gulag system different from the soviet system only in its efficiency.
 

Ardillaun

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This is how plea barganing works in the US for white collar crime:

A prosecutor decides there has been a crime. He comes up with some spurious 'evidence' against someone, anyone, in the target organisation. It can be a low level clerk, a customer or a supplier, or an ex-employee with an axe to grind. Some sample charges are dreamt up. Perhap someone is caught with drugs or child porn or something. That person is locked away on a friday evening and left to stew in prison over the weekend. On the Monday they are given a choice - they are told that they are facing 10-15 years in prison. They are told their wife is also implicated. They are told their house will be taken away. However, they are told, the real criminal is their boss/customer/supplier/etc and if they will testify against that person, the charges will be dropped or reduced. 'I don't know anything', they say. The prosecutor says 'well, that is unfortunate. Perhaps you can jog your memory over the next months and years in confinement.' Later that day, the prisoner 'remembers' something and the prosecutor constructs the plea bargain documents. They go and arrest more people, and repeat the process.

Its a scam. 25% of all prisoners in the world are in the US. Its a gulag system different from the soviet system only in its efficiency.
It is draconian and that is why I would only like to see it applied to a VERY limited number of cases. Ireland is in an unprecedented crisis and the legal system seems unable to deal with the challenge. The possible consequences of justice denied in the banking/property crisis are far more frightening than plea bargaining in my opinion.

Plea bargaining is not as grim in Canada - it does not have to be extortionate in every case.
 

seabhcan

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It is draconian and that is why I would only like to see it applied to a VERY limited number of cases. Ireland is in an unprecedented crisis and the legal system seems unable to deal with the challenge. The possible consequences of justice denied in the banking/property crisis are far more frightening than plea bargaining in my opinion.

Plea bargaining is not as grim in Canada - it does not have to be extortionate in every case.
I do not believe it furthers justice.
 

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