Plea bargains deserve greater attention

A 60 Minutes report Sunday on the prevalence of false-confession cases in Chicago has garnered the issue renewed and much-deserved attention, as reported by Mark Godsey here and Phil Locke here.

Questions about how false confessions happen — and continue to happen no matter how many cautionary cases are brought to light, is an ongoing mystery. As noted in this excellent explanation of the issue in The Jury Expert, false confessions in North America date back to at least 1692 and the Salem Witch Trials.

Unfortunately, a more prevalent form false confession — guilty pleas by innocent defendants — gets far less attention. Some nations prohibit plea bargains to prevent this problem, but they are integral part of the criminal-justice system in the United States, where more than 90 percent of cases end with guilty pleas. As Danny Weil argues in a pointed essay here, the growth of pea bargains in the Unites States has become ”a historical canker sore on the judicial system” that has helped foster America’s mushrooming incarceration rate over the past three decades.

Even worse, when evidence of innocence of a person who pled guilty later surfaces, court rules make it extremely difficult to get a conviction reversed. For every guilty person like former football star Brian Banks who is allowed to clear his name, dozens of others are denied the opportunity because of the system’s strict rules against reopening cases that ended in guilty pleas. This is an issue that deserves much more attention.

3 responses to “Plea bargains deserve greater attention

  1. A perfect example is happening in Montgomery County Pennsylvania. Brought to the case kicking and screaming the DA filed 51 charges against a vice principal of a local school for forgery (late husband’s will), insurance fraud, (NY Life Insurance Co. vs. Darlene Zachry PA Federal Court) perjury and lots more; then allowed her to plea down to 1 charge of perjury. The co-defendents have not agreed to plea.

    Pennsylvania claims to be so hard on insurance fraud, yet dropped those charges in the plea deal. It is very likely this vice principal will walk, go back to her school position where she can make a wonderful example to children.

  2. Mr. Yant, Up front, allow me to opologize for my coment will be lengthy due to a Houston area attorney telling me to never be vague when explaining this. Thank you for shedding another light on the USSC’s (U. S. Supreme Court’s) judicial loophole gift that has allowed so-called CDLs (Criminal Defense Lawyers) to avoid defending clients’ and allowed ADAs (Assistant District Attorneys) to rack up wrongful convictions alongside the deserving and rightfull ones and allowed Judges to ignore their primary duties.

    The systemic abuse of the plea bargain is no longer an insider dirty lil secrete and I predict this will be the straw that overloads the back of an entire profession. Especially when anyone can be a CDL for a day. Most folks don’t know that the law allows ex; Divorce / Estate specialist to pretend to be one, taking felony cases to jury trials. Do little or no work, and lie to the client in efforts to solicit plea bargains on day one of trial.

    To this day, not one single attorney / lawyer from New York to here in Texas has ever heard of the type of plea bargain I was tricked into particiapating in. Not one single one will touch it due to being void of DNA, Death Row and being a Closed / Inactive case. Enter the “Griffith Plea”.

    The Griffith Plea, involves a fake CDL utilizing the entire lunch recess to trick the (in my case, paying) client into stopping a jury trial on day one to plea bargain for 10 years vs chancing 99 yrs. Telling me that the probation I was on prior to being arrested on a new unrelated charge was revoked and that I was going to prison just for being arrested Guilty or Not.

    The adult probation dept. confirmed that it was not revoked until the date that I signed the paperwork. Now, here is where it becomes an isolated incident in which no lawyer in America has any knowledge of.
    The Fake CDL, and baliff took me from the Court room holding cell into the Judge’s chambers. Telling me to take a seat and to not to ask any questions, ansewring yes and no only. When the judge asked me if I had any Qs I said yes, If it’s the last thing I do it’ll be to prove that I’m Not Guilty. Told to shut up and sign. I kept that promise. The proof of my innocence and proof of no need to stop a jury trial and proof of police, prosecutroial, defense & judge misconduct was found in the 10 page HPD Incident Report and Case files. It’s clear that the information was never meant to be sold to me due to the arogance and blantant wording showing exaxctly who did what and when it happend, including what happened when Detectives’ noticed they had the wrong person.

    Tuff crapola, No DNA, No Death Row, being Closed / Inactive and involving 100% white people (including myself) isn’t news worthy and since there’s no big money to be sought it isn’t worthy of any lawyer’s / attorney’s time. And it darn sure isn’t enough to warrant a Full Pardon – based on innocence simply because it looks like I pled Gulty, therefore I must be despite the proof they sold to me. My revenge will be to avoid any further post conviction relief and focus on getting the names of the real criminals’ on the internet so that when the familes Google for show n tell they locate info showing they comitted crimes and I confronted them about it and they either ignored or played dumb. Thanks. PNG Team Member – Thomas R. Griffith

  3. For the record, if anyone can prove that I’m ‘Not’ innocent, I’ll eat the 10 page HPD Incident Report live on SKYPE from the tip top of a construction crane in Downtown Houston naked.

    *If anyone has knowledge of another human that has particpated in a “Griffith Plea”, please let PNG know about it. If you haven’t purchased copies of your police report, booking photo & case files – consider doing so before they simply disappear. (I attempted to re-purchase copies and rec. a pacakge missing several key documents but to my surprise included even more damaging documents not previously disclosed. HMMM? Shredder Tyme in Texas or just an isolated incident? Thanks again. PNG Team Member – Thomas R. Griffith.

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