I wrote a few days ago about my liberal friend who was shocked by the way the judicial system treated a friend of hers who got arrested for allegedly doing a bad thing. I have absolutely no idea whether the guy is guilty or innocent. This post posits all three possibilities.
The guy ended up being charged with 21 counts, many of them duplicative, and all of them carrying very high minimum sentences. He will almost certainly plea bargain.
If he’s guilty, a plea may be a good deal for him.
If he did what he is alleged to have done, but there are extenuating circumstances, that’s irrelevant in terms of deciding the risk of going to trial. The moment a jury concludes that he committed the acts, he’s done for. So again, a plea bargain is the way to go.
And then there’s the question of whether he’s innocent. By charging him with 21 acts, the prosecutor, by bringing 21 counts against him, has already sent a signal to the jury that this is a “bad” man. The legal presumption may be innocent until proven guilty, but a jury will almost certainly think “Boy, that’s a lot of smoke. How about if we just convict him on one of the charges?” The jurors won’t know, of course, that just one of those charges can mean decades in jail. So again, the best bet for the guy is to plead out.
So think about that for a moment — we have created a judicial system where a person, whether guilty, innocent, or with a good excuse, begs to go to jail rather than to face the stacked deck in court.
But there’s more to it than that: This system encourages lousy police work, because the police know that they probably won’t be called upon to answer for it before a judge and jury. Police are rational and they are overworked. Even the best and most decent of them will eventually fall down the slippery slope of dangerously careless policing.
Did I say dangerous? I meant it. Please read this post by my friend Mike McDaniel (whose home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor). It describes the terrible outcome of the kind of shoddy police work that our judicial system actively encourages.