Sunday, December 22, 2013
Due Process - Let's Make a Deal: The Plea Bargain (Aired 12/9/12)
You're charged with a crime and have the right to face your accusers at trial, to be judged by a jury of your peers. Then why do fewer than 3% of defendants ever get that far?
On this edition of Due Process, we explore the phenomenon of the plea deal, beginning with a look inside Judge Martin Cronin's Essex County courtroom, where, two days a week, one guilty plea after another is entered in return for a reduced sentence. Is it fear? Is it coercion? Why do so few choose to take their chance at trial? And could some of them be innocent?
In the opening field piece, we listen in on a plea bargain conference between the Morris County Prosecutor, Bob Bianchi and his staff, while, in Essex, we watch the plea process unfold and talk to Assignment Judge Patricia Costello.
In the studio, we get starkly opposing views on plea deals from former First Assistant Attorney General for New Jersey John Vazquez and the ACLU's Alex Shalom.