A Brief Look at Broward County Lawyers’ and Judges’ Attitudes Toward Plea Bargaining as a Tool of Courtroom Efficiency


Even the most rigidly ideological prosecutors acknowledge that they need to plea out most of the less serious criminal charges to ensure justice without incurring an unmanageable backlog of cases. But what do most criminal lawyers and judges think about the plea arrangment system? Is it fair to defendants? Do lawyers use plea bargains to better serve their clients by finding the best deal, or do they use plea bargains to cut their case load for what some call "garbage cases?" This paper surveys a small sample to see how 21st century Broward County criminal lawyers feel about the plea bargain system, and to compare their attitudes against attitudes measured by Milton Heumann in the mid-20th century Connecticut criminal justice environment. Lawyers and judges that are 40 years and 1,200 miles apart seem point at the same successes and failures of the American plea bargaining system. The paper also looks at the successes and failures of banning plea arrangements, as is the case in Alaska.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Judges | Jurisprudence | Law | Law and Society | Legal History | Litigation

Date of this Version

March 2005