Have Plea Bargains Superseded Jury Trials?

Lady Justice, law, court

“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

~Thomas Jefferson

How did the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a public jury trial in all criminal prosecutions become useless and outdated?

Seattle criminal defense attorney Kelly Vomacka answered these questions during her presentation at  the 7th Annual Smoke Farm Symposium on Aug. 22, 2015. Smoke Farm is a program center and events venue run by the Seattle-based nonprofit organization Rubicon Foundation.

Titled, “Plea Nation: Dispelling the Illusion That the US Criminal Justice System Sorts the Guilty from the Innocent,” Vomacka spoke to the trend that today’s criminal defendants are waiving their right to jury trials and entering plea bargains.

Studies show that 97% of criminal cases in the U.S. result in plea bargains that do not determine guilt or innocence. Only 3 percent go to trial by jury.  Vomacka also discusses incarceration issues, the risks of trial verdicts, the numerous “gaps” (race, communication, socio-economic status, etc. – between defendants and their lawyers, pleading guilty to get out of jail, etc.

Very interesting presentation.