Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining in exchange for testimony is unjust.Analysis, links, observations, rants, discussions, and controversies. This is the first resolution we take into competition, so I'm pretty excited about it. LDers, watch this space--and be sure to join in the conversation. (Update 11/11: here's a place to post arguments you hear in rounds.)
Update 12/1: The January-February nuclear weapons resolution is now available.
This resolution is surprisingly simple. On the aff, define "plea bargaining," explain how the resolution limits it to exchanges for testimony, and define justice, probably as your value. On the neg, I'd imagine most definitions of "plea bargaining" would be fairly non-contentious. "Justice" will be the major sticking point.
Useful Search Terms
Aff: Justice. Criteria: due process, right to a fair trial, the rule of law
Neg: Justice. Criteria: retribution, due process, equal treatment under the law, the rule of law.... Hmm... what would Kant say?
Update: I go over some initial reasons plea bargaining in exchange for testimony can be considered unjust. I also point out some things to consider when copping a plea.
Update 10/2: I somehow connect the resolution and Superman. Also, e-note's intro to plea bargaining is a clear and useful explanation. When you're ready, check out the federal sentencing guidelines related to plea bargaining.
Update 10/3: A sample affirmative case--a retribution case--for your critique.
Update 10/4 Now, a sample Neg structure focused on due process.
Update 10/10: Defining justice the professional way.
Update 10/13: Blog neighbor Josh applies Foucault to the resolution. And, for free, a Foucault analysis by Nancy J. Holland in ""Truth as Force": Michel Foucault on Religion, State Power, and the Law," from the Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 18, No. 1. (2002 - 2003):
In this age of plea bargaining, and the often public displays of remorse it sometimes involves, we can see an intriguing confluence of an earlier (and unfortunately often ritual) insistence on the congruence between human and divine law (to knowingly punish the innocent for any reason remains, in the political ideology of the United States, unthinkable), the incorporation of psychotherapeutic practices (e.g., the cathartic effect of taking responsibility for one's actions) into the legal process, and something very much like exomologesis, both in the role that those harmed by the defendant now play in sentencing procedures and in the almost ritual display of leg irons and chains in some jurisdiction.In other words, plea bargaining is a form of ritualized confession. Ah, but is it good for the soul?
Update 10/15: A Texas judge offers an insider's perspective on plea bargaining.
Update 10/18: I show an affirmative argument that "pre-turns" an important Neg claim.
Update 10/19: Here's an older post on some issues related to using the criterion in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
Update 10/21: For beginners (or for anyone, really): a handy guide to moral theories [pdf].
Update 10/23: A look at the "McDonaldization" of justice, and the role of plea bargaining in the process, with implications for Aff and Neg.
Update 10/25: A closer look at federal sentencing guidelines, which play an important role in the putative justice or injustice of plea bargaining in the United States. (If you haven't studied up on USSG 5K1, this is a must-read.)
Update 10/28: I note some trends in state court felony conviction rates. I also provide some evidence regarding the morality of plea bargaining.
Update 11/2: Another must-read: crucial statistics on "substantial assistance" pleas, which cover many (if not most) PBET scenarios.
Update 11/6: I show how utilitarianism might work on the Aff.
Update 11/8: What role does discrimination play? I look at some statistics.
Update 11/26: After a holiday hiatus, I'm back with a new criterion for a case: virtue ethics.