Plea Bargain Limits
As the Chairman of the Criminal Advocacy Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Roland Riopelle was asked by Stand Up for What is Right and Just, a non-profit organization aimed at reforming the criminal justice system, and the New York Times to provide expert legal insight into a Department of Justice’s 2003 directive which limited the use of plea bargains in criminal prosecutions.
If Attorney General John Ashcroft’s new directive limiting the use of plea bargains in federal prosecutions were enforced to the letter, legal experts said, the criminal justice system would soon face a crisis.
The directive, which was issued on Monday to all federal prosecutors, requires them to charge defendants with “the most serious, readily provable offense” in every case and, with some exceptions, not to engage in plea negotiations thereafter.
“This clearly gives Attorney General Ashcroft a certain political soapbox he can stand on to say he’s tough on crime and won't put up with local prosecutors pleading their cases out cheap,” said Roland Riopelle, the chairman of the Criminal Advocacy Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.