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Justice Administration

Justice Administration

Answer discussion board and respond to classmates

  1. Should a defendant be allowed to plead guilty without fully admitting guilt? Would you limit Alford pleas to situations in which the defendant wishes to avoid the death penalty?  Would you allow white-collar defendants to enter Alford pleas? Some federal judges will not, because they perceive that high-ranking corporate officials want to end the criminal cases without accepting full responsibility for their actions.

 

  1. In the wake of the O.J. Simpson verdict of not guilty, many commentators spoke about the collapse of the jury system. Were these sentiments driven by the one verdict, or were there other reasons?

 

Classmate Response

  1. I firmly believe a defendant should not be allowed to plead guilty without fully admitting guilt. Pleading “no contest” or the Alford plea defeats the purpose of the criminal justice system, the accused must know and understand why they are being punished and accept the consequences of their guilty actions.  Utilizing the Alford plea in capitol felony cases where the possibility of the death penalty is present should not be allowed, for a defendant believing they are innocent should not have to accept any plea deal.   If one is to believe in our criminal justice system the truth will either condemn them or set them free.

 

The comments made in the wake of the O.J. Simpson’s not guilty verdict only highlighted the issues that can arise utilizing the jury system.  The jury system did not collapse due to this verdict, but it did show how flawed the system can be and did so while the entire nation watched.  This verdict did more damage to the image of justice, and allowed an entire nation to question the accountability of justice in this country.

 

  1. I do feel that Alford pleas have their place in the criminal justice system. There are situations, such as the North Carolina v. Alford 1970 case, where the defendant realized that the evidence presented to him would prove it a difficult task to exonerate him of any murder charges, and thus to avoid the death penalty, plead as he did.  With the stark contrast of Alford pleas vs straight-up pleading “guilty”, I would not limit the Alford pleas to cases whereas the defendant wishes to avoid the death penalty.  It is one scenario to have on your record a “guilty” plea, vs to have an “Alford” plea; that’s not to say it would necessarily provide for a “better” outlook once any punishment is served, but it could provide the defendant with a means to move on with his life knowing he was able to maintain his innocence of the act while realizing that due to whatever circumstances, enough evidence was present that he felt it would have led to him being guilty.  At the same time, I can foresee this becoming almost abused by the state / federal government when trying to entice subjects of crimes to plead a certain way in order to alleviate the possible more severe punishment they might seek in court.

 

I do not feel the O.J. Simpson verdict alone was the reason behind sentiments that the jury system is collapsing.  I think due to the vastly publicized nature of that case, it bought the issue to the forefront of the every-day person’s mind.  I am vastly understating the role of the court here, but with the reading I’ve done throughout this degree plan, I’ve come to realize that an inordinate amount of pressure is on both the state and the defense in making a good argument.  And the O.J. Simpson case bought this to light.  Evidence gets you so far, but one’s ability to manipulate people so cleverly, i.e. the jury, into swing a certain way is what concerns a lot of legal spectators with regard to the collapse of the jury system.