Duquesne Law Review


The last decade has brought to our courts the increasing awareness that the criminal is winning the war against crime. He is not winning through cunning or guile, nor even with the aid of modern technology. He is winning because the sheer number of his comrades-in-arms is beginning to buckle our cumbersome system of justice. Realizing the need to relieve its congested dockets, the courts have resorted to various methods to expedite the legal process. One of these methods, plea bargaining, is not designed to accelerate the trial level but instead eliminate it. It has done just that with remarkable efficiency. Unfortunately the price for a more efficient system of justice is high, and too often paid by the very individuals who need its protection most. The purpose of this article is to examine plea bargaining in our courts and assess its impact upon the judicial system. The analysis will include the role of the trial judge in the bargaining process, problems involved in withdrawing a guilty plea, and reasons why the process is used so extensively today. The dangers of plea bargaining will also be examined in conjunction with recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions.

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