Oct 2, 2007

the Superman analysis of the plea bargaining resolution

Let's look at the resolution:
Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining in exchange for testimony is unjust.
Essentially, this resolution pits Superman's values against each other. After all, Superman fights for "Truth, Justice, and the Serial Comma American Way."

Why do we encourage felons to rat on each other? Because we want to know the truth. The truth is our instrument to attain justice, in some cases, or to find closure, in others. Yet this resolution wants us to focus on...

For reasons expressed elsewhere, plea bargaining in exchange for testimony can advance or hinder the search for justice. It partly becomes a matter of perspective: victims will have quite different justice criteria than the state.

The American Way
The resolution gives us a uniquely American context. As Richard Lippke writes in "Retributivism and Plea Bargaining," in Criminal Justice Ethics, Summer 2006:
Prosecutors in the United States have considerably more discretion in reaching plea bargaining agreements than their counterparts in some European countries. In particular, United States prosecutors can levy or drop charges against defendants with relatively little scrutiny by the courts. This gives them enormous leverage in negotiating pleas, leverage that it seems clear some of them abuse in various ways. Though agreements reached by United States prosecutors might have to be approved by a judge, judicial scrutiny of plea agreements is often perfunctory.
The American context also includes unique legal rights and moral attitudes. If something is unjust "in the United States," it runs contrary to American ideals--but where are those found? In the Constitution alone? In the bulk of federal law? In competing state ordinances? In popular perception? Both sides have a burden to define "justice" so that Superman would find it worth fighting for.*

*(From the Neg's perspective, as long as he's willing to de-prioritize the fight for truth.)


Anonymous said...

Dude, I'm so gonna have to open one of my cases with Superman. =). That would rule. I tried to quote Spock once, but my captain said that if he found out I ran it, he would "turn hating me into a religion". Lolz.

Jim Anderson said...

That's hilarious. I'm afraid your captain's right--Spock's just too nerdy, even for LD.

Luis said...

Wait how can u tie in the "superman way" into your case?

would this go for aff or neg?

and couldnt i just knock down this arguement saying that 'superman' has nothing to do w/ the resulotion.?

Jim Anderson said...

Luis, this is just an example of a different way to think about the resolution--"food for thought," not a case structure.

That said, a Superman reference might make a nice introduction, as anonymous says above.

Luis said...

ahh i see well thank you mr anderson

ld said...

I think this would make a beautiful introduction! I love it and plan on trying to tie in to my aff case. I'm running that plea bargaining for estimony creates an incentive to lie so it works wonderfully, thanks for the idea.

Jim Anderson said...

ld, interesting idea. What about the US Sentencing Guidelines, though, that include a provision that states that testimony that doesn't stand up in court is grounds for a dissolved plea bargain? In other words, what about the "truth check" built into the system?

Anonymous said...

just for an fyi one of my ld teammates ran a superman case and it backfired big time... he went 0-4... i think he ran it the right way it was just the judges who thought it was bad
so if you plan on running such a case watch out for judges who will think that your just being dumb

Jim Anderson said...

Again, I must emphasize: this is not a case. It is a way of thinking creatively about the resolution.

If you write an entire case and call it the "Superman Case," you'd better hope you don't run up against a kryptonite Neg.