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American University Washington College of Law    
  Jan 21, 2018
2017-2018 Catalog

LAW - 708B Plea Bargaining

(3 hrs.)

The vast majority of criminal convictions - more than ninety percent - come not from a public trial verdict, but rather after a closed negotiation process ending in a guilty plea.  In this course, Students examine plea bargaining and guilty plea jurisprudence, theory, and practice.  They consider debates over the utility, coercive aspects, and constitutionality of plea bargaining and guilty pleas.  Students also explore the role of the prosecutor, defender, and judge in plea bargaining, including ethical considerations for these institutional actors.  Other topics include the collateral consequences of guilty pleas; procedural justice and cognitive bias in the plea process; and negotiation theory in the criminal context.  The class will visit criminal court to observe guilty pleas, and all students will also plan for, conduct, and critique a recorded plea negotiation simulation.