Prosecutorial discretion or power

h/t to Prof. Berman TG.

The title of this post is the headline of this new New York Times segment of its series "Room for Debate."  The NY Timesbrought together five leading lights to comment on this question (all of whom appear to supply variations on the answer "Yes").  Here is how the segment sets up the debate, followed by links to the must-read pieces that provide five different answers to the question:

A U.S. district judge in Denver recently rejected a plea bargain in a child pornography case because the defendant had agreed to waive his right to appeal. The judge said such a deal would undermine the purpose of appellate courts. (He later accepted a plea bargain without that stipulation.)

Legal observers — including the editorial board of The New York Times — focused on the judge’s concern as a sign that plea bargains have gotten out of control and in the process given prosecutors too much power.  When one party decides whether to bring charges, what charges to bring and whether to offer a plea bargain, is the justice system lacking checks and balances?

  • Angela Davis, "Prosecutors’ Overreaching Goes Unchecked"
  • Samuel Buell, "Judgment Requires Power and Vice Versa"
  • Rachel Barkow, "The Problem With Mandatory Minimums"
  • Nancy Gertner, "The Right to Appeal Is an Issue of Fairness"
  • Paul Cassell, "Limit Control Over Charges and Sentencing"
Contact Information