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There are now 16 comments on pg 96. Police Deception and Coercion.
What are your thoughts?
  1. Okay, I know we’ve been over this before, but YEEESH.

    Cops get away with a lot more then seems right. I know it’s mostly due to the fact that they can’t play fair with criminals as a matter of safety, and the fact that they won’t give up on apprehending what they think is the guilty party. And yet… you show us things like this, and then wonder why people can be so mistrusting of law enforcement.

  2. Tualha says

    I had jury duty last year, and was assigned to the pool for a criminal trial on drug charges. The prosecutor asked a lot of questions during voir dire to the effect of, would we uphold the law regardless of our personal opinions. He never mentioned the term “jury nullification,” but that was clearly what he had in mind.

    Among other things, I said that I knew cops were allowed to lie and often did. Quite a few people in the pool felt cannabis should be decriminalized, and at least one other seemed as hostile as I did.

    They ended up dismissing the lot of us. I don’t know if the state offered a more favorable plea deal or what, but it seems they weren’t going to go to trial after all.

    • I’m not too surprised. From what I recall (and according to the Administrative Office of the US Courts website), criminal cases don’t go to trial some 90% of the time.

  3. Sodel says

    According to this doctrine, isn’t it inherently coercive to make punishment more severe if the accused doesn’t plead guilty? Even *actually innocent people* might plead guilty on occasion, just to avoid risking a double sentence.

    • I look at it from a business perspective. If I am selling apples and you come to buy an apple, I may make a deal with you. I may offer the second apply at half off. The reason I do this is because there is a chance I may not sell that second apple and then it goes bad and I make nothing off of it.

      In reality the justice system is not going to charge a more severe crime than they feel they can prove. So while they may say they will, what they mean is we are willing to offer a lesser charge in exchange for….(ie plea bargain)

      Allowing the justice system to offer deals is key to a more efficient and lower cost process. If they don’t offer incentives for pleading guilty, then they have to try a case that they may lose. By doing so they allow both sides to hedge their risk by sharing the loss (the DA wins, but only gets half of the maximum sentence). Further If the justice system CAN’T offer plea deals, then there is no incentive for the suspect to comply. And EVERY case must be taken to trial, which would be a huge cost and time burden to the state.

    • Not really, Sodel.

      Let’s say you’re arrested for crime X. All things considered, your most likely sentence is 10 years if you’re convicted at trial. The prosecutor is offering you a plea bargain, where you plea to crime Y and get a sentence of 5 years.

      Offering you a lighter sentence is not the same thing as forcing you to take the plea. You may feel enormous personal pressure yourself to take that plea — maybe you think you’ve got no chance at trial, maybe you just want it all to be over, maybe a lot of things. But none of that is the same thing as the government forcing you to take it. If you reject the plea, you’re in no worse a position than you were before it was offered.

      • You’re assuming that a policy of allowing plea deals has no effect on the sentence that a given person will receive if they don’t take one.

        I’ve heard arguments that the existence of plea deals encourages prosecutors to “throw the book” at people, charging them with more crimes than the prosecutor otherwise would, in order to make the trial option seem scarier and thereby improve the prosecutor’s bargaining position.

        It seems to me that a widespread expectation that criminals will make a plea deal and serve a lighter sentence than the law specifies for their crime could also encourage legislators to specify harsher sentences than they otherwise would.

        • In which case, the defense atty can just wait to make a deal to see what the prosecutor actually charges. If they overreach on the charges, the defense may feel they can win at trial. Right?

          • I’m no expert, but I don’t think that’s how it works. If you’re charged with both X and Y, I believe you can be cleared of Y but still convicted of X, and I’m not sure that second charge makes it any easier to defend yourself against the first charge.

            I bet that defending yourself against multiple charges is more expensive than defending against only one, though.

            • There’s a difference between being “coercive” and forcing someone to do something. Police interrogation is inherently “coercive.” You never force someone to confess, but you give them really, really strong incentive. If these kind of incentives are being given, if the person is being told they’re going to be charged with a crime, etc, they are already in Miranda territory. They know, theoretically, they can get a lawyer. A good lawyer’s presence would make most of the above tactics not work. So yes, they can do all that kinda’ stuff, and yes, it’s absurdly coercive. Technically, it’s not forcing anything, but it also requires reading rights, which opens the possibility of a lawyer coming in to save the day.

          • We’re talking about the cops bullying you into talking long before you’ve been charged and allowed to see a lawyer here, aren’t we?

    • I believe the idea is that they’re equivalent sentences. 50% chance of ten years versus 100% chance of five years.

      Though if the prosecutor values conviction time non-linearly they may be tempted be tempted to get a lot of flimsily evidence short term sentences.

    • That is not really a situation where the doctrine of coercive deception would apply. The prohibition on coercive deception is for when law enforcement personnel are lying about what the probability of a conviction is or how sever the sentence will be. The prohibition on coercive deception does not apply to when a judge or prosecutor imposes an actual sentence. If a prosecutor agrees to a sentence of 3 years in prison for crime A in exchange for dropping charges of crime B in a plea bargain, then there is no possibility of deception because the prosecutor cannot violate the deal after the defendant pleads guilty to crime A. At least I hope that prosecutors cannot renege on plea bargains after the defendant pleads guilty to the agreed upon crime.

  4. WJS says

    I’m not really getting this one at all. Why is the cop in the first panel OK for suggesting things will go easier if the suspect confesses, but the cop in the second panel is not OK suggesting the exact same thing? Also, both second panel ones are lying about what evidence they have; we were just told that’s OK!

  5. Ann Onymous says

    That picture of Bob Chase makes him look so much more menacing than the original picture of him from the original story, where he looked kinda young and innocent. Coincidentally (or not?), the way Mrs. Flavors was drawn recently makes her look much more young and innocent (well, except when she’s acting possessed) than int the original story.

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