Sixth Amendment

Federal Prosecutors Are Punishing Actor Lori Loughlin for Exercising Her Right To Defend Herself

Plea deals aren’t about mercy these days. They’re about intimidating defendants into giving up the right to a trial.

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Department of Justice attorneys turned the screws on actor Lori Loughlin and 10 other parents this week by bringing new charges against them for attempting to use their wealth to buy their kids spots at selective colleges.

The new charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering, filed Tuesday, came just a day after four other parents caught up in the "Varsity Blues" scandal accepted plea deals in Boston. This is not a coincidence. As USA Today's reporting makes abundantly clear, the parents who pleaded guilty did so because prosecutors had threatened them with these additional charges. Loughlin and the other parents face harsher criminal punishment now entirely because they are insisting on their innocence:

The new charges do not allege new actions. Prosecutors are looking to ramp up pressure against the remaining 23 parents, coaches and other defendants who have not caved and are preparing for trial in the "Varsity Blues" case.

"Today's charges are the result of ongoing investigation in the nationwide college admissions case," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement. "Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud."

Prosecutors are only now insisting on holding the defendants "fully accountable" because these parents are insisting on exercising their constitutional right to a fair trial. Loughlin and the other defendants would not have received these additional charges if they'd accepted plea deals. One of the parents told the judge Monday that the Justice Department told them it would not seek any further punishment if the parent accepted the deal.

This behavior by federal prosecutors is both common and a frustrating subversion of the criminal justice process. Despite our constitutional right to a trial, a full 97 percent of all criminal cases are resolved with plea deals, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

And when you look at what's happening with Loughlin, it's easy to see why. Actor Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to 14 days in prison, a year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service, and a $30,000 fine. By adding charges against Loughlin (and other parents) of conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering, prosecutors are adding months and even years of additional prison time in the event the parents are convicted.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts boasts that these new charges carry prison sentences of up to 25 years. There is absolutely no way any of these people will receive sentences that harsh, but it's abundantly clear that the prosecutors want to punish them not just for the offenses they are alleged to have committed, but also for insisting on going to trial. What's more, the new indictments include asset forfeiture requests should the defendants be convicted.

The NACDL doesn't publicly comment on specific cases, but last year the organization published a report about this trend, which it and other criminal justice reform groups have long called "the Trial Penalty."

The NACDL report warns that Americans are essentially losing their Sixth Amendment right to a trial because of the massive charging disparity between the offenses prosecutors offer in a plea deal and the offenses they take to trial. The report notes that "the mere decision to charge triggers a domino effect making a guilty plea the only rational choice in most cases. And as trials and hearings decline, so too does government accountability. Government mistakes and misconduct are rarely uncovered, or are simply resolved in a more favorable plea bargain." Studies of exonerations have determined that hundreds of people who serve prison time for crimes that it later turns out they didn't commit had pleaded guilty in the hopes of less punishment.

What's happening to Loughlin and these other parents happens to hundreds of poorer, less connected defendants every day across the country. But we should be careful not to see it as karmic "balance" that a small group of wealthy, privileged parents is now getting railroaded by the system. It's not more "fair" when prosecutorial overreach affects rich people.

It is, however, an excellent opportunity to talk about the fact that our criminal justice system punishes defendants not just for breaking the law, but also for exercising their constitutional rights.

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  1. Now that the rich and powerful are being abused by corrupt prosecutors, maybe something will change. Haha, just kidding, the general public wants them to get slapped around so this is good politics. We don’t want to ratchet down the punishment, we just want to make sure that favored groups are being punished just as much as we are, even though that is a total pipe dream.

    1. Well, any individual who commits a serious crime and refuses to reach a perfectly ordinary agreement with law enforcement authorities should be punished. This is exactly why we worked together with some of New York’s finest prosecutors here at NYU to ensure that as many charges as possible were filed against our nation’s leading criminal “satirist.” While we unable in the end to secure a jail sentence, we did succeed in prolonging the litigation in that case for nearly a decade, so as to exact at least some degree of appropriate punishment for the criminal “parody” involved. See the documentation at:

      https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      1. Back up to where acting to secure your kids an education rather than communist or mystical brainwashing is a violation of someone’s individual rights, a crime. Sure, the same prosecutors and politicians urging men with guns to shoot kids over plant leaves WANT them also brainwashed into pathetic uselessness. But that makes those prosecutors a murdering conspiracy. Abetting their lynchings-through-intimidation only reveals how little YOU value education, ethics and rights.

        1. I think you missed a [sarc] tag.

          1. Indeed, clearly Hank’s posting is sarcastic, otherwise it would make no sense. This, however, is not to his credit, because sarcasm is never appropriate in civil discourse. We certainly discourage it here at NYU, and some of us are even contemplating an outright ban on using it in our classrooms.

        2. I don’t know why it would be a violation of any kind of law for a private individual to pay off a private institution so their child can attend. If Harvard or wherever this student went wants to offer spots to the highest bidder, so be it.

          I do have a problem with anyone paying for and receiving false SAT/ACT scores. Both the testing center/individuals receiving the bribe and the parents/person giving the bribe should be punished for this.

          1. Yeah. I’m kind of surprised it’s a big deal. Though maybe they messed up in not “donating” to get their name slapped on a bookshelf in the library.

            1. That’s all it is. College admissions have long been a bullshit process. Smart wealthy people will play the long game and put money toward a new building or wing for a university; essentially a legal bribe. The people here are being punished because they didn’t pay the money the right way, or to the right people, and therefore they are in trouble. Their actions are identical to anyone who has given money to a university to secure access for their kids, relatives, whatever.

            2. It’s a big deal because she paid a state official to change her kids testing scores. That’s a crime. You guys act like she just paid the school to have her kid admitted to that college. No. She paid to have her kids state scores changed to higher scores. Many colleges “grandfather“ students in example if your parents attended Harvard than you might be given a break on admissions and allowed to enter the school based on family legacy. She had no such connection so her kids needed the scores like every other kid who got admitted. So she bribed the guy who was over the testing to cheat. She also paid coaches to lie and say her kid was a star athlete . The average person would go to jail for that crime. They offered her a plea deal with probation and probably 10-12 days in jail like huffman but this lady’s wants to get off free because she’s famous.

              1. Wrong – she did not pay to have her kids test scores changed – get your facts straight. She was told to “donate” to the school and have her kids designated as an athlete. She has the right to go the trial, and let a jury decide. This story is about prosecutors taking away American right to trial by jury. This happens all the time. Prosecutors are scum with too much power. If it takes celebrities getting screwed for this to come to light – so be it. Our judicial system is broken, we have more people in jail than any other country.

          2. The one overlooked aspect is the SAT/ACT fraud. That is actually where there are victims and the impact extends well beyond college entrance exams. Well Lori’s kids didn’t take the SATs.. the youngest barely attended high school.. The means of facilitating the cheating was ADA accommodations, which is a very limited set of accommodations that have been litigated to death and used for every test. ( professional, SAT’s, school exams, regulatory ). Depending on your disability the current set of accommodations are a joke, and a degrading process But it was nice that for high school kids the SAT board let them take at their school instead of having to tavel somewhere.. right now that gift is being eliminated.. Personally there is a professional test I cannot take because my accommodation is not on the list.. I have been lobbying for a while for them to change the format of the test… so it could be accommodated.. this very public incident will make that impossible.. this will be cited as the justification by every testing board.

      2. Am I to understand it is YOUR intention to ACTIVELY PUNISH people with long, drawn out trials for no reason other than to FINANCIALLY PUNISH them BEFORE they are found guilty?

        Perhaps communist China would be a better place for your philosophy?

        1. From what I understand, they do handle these matters very efficiently in both China and Russia. We all know these criminals are guilty, and when they refuse to cooperate, they need to be punished so that others will be dissuaded from similar crimes. That is the result we have been working to accomplish together with prosecutors here at NYU, and we will continue doing so whenever necessary, particularly if our interests and reputations are at stake.

          1. Hmm – we have a right to trial by a jury of our peers. This is in the constitution for a reason. Prosecutors have been given too much power, and often all they want is wins so they can run for political office. WE do NOT know who is guilty and who is not guilty. The only information we have is what to read on the internet and from the newspapers. A fair trial would allow the facts to come out. You do not have all the facts, only was has been selected for you. Listen to what you are saying “if they refuse to cooperate, the need to be punished”. Holy crap, what about our constitutional rights?

    2. The prosecutors shouldn’t be adding new charges over time. They should have put down the full slate on day one.
      I don’t have any sympathy for criminals who hope to game the system in court and wind up paying a higher price, but I have real heartburn over a system that may convict an innocent person and I often think we just have too goddamned many laws.

      So, assuming she’s guilty and wants to go to trial, I don’t really care if they sentence her to a decade in prison, a $5 million fine and 4000 hours of community service. If that’s what she was facing on day one, then fine… take the deal or leave it. But don’t come back later and pile more prosecutorial shit up and take a second stab at coercing a plea deal.

      1. This. They should have charged everything originally. Since they didn’t, I am less sympathetic to them. Unless they have new evidence that suggests more criminal behavior, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Forcing plea agreements is wrong, overcharging is wrong, and adding charges later to force a plea agreement is wrong. If I were the judge I would inquire why they didn’t originally include these charges. But by insisting on a trial rather than a plea agreement (assuming she is guilty) is also a risk on her part. But it is her right. It does make you wonder if the prosecutors are scared that their case isn’t as air tight as they make it sound.

      2. Further, I’m having a hard time understanding how the government would seize assets of the parents – they actually are OUT money, as they paid for a service. They didn’t GAIN money.

        In one sense, the government may have over-reached, as these accused persons have the cash to fight the charges. I’ve been troubled by the over-charging of reluctant-to-plead defendants for some time.

        Plea bargains have SOME utility – if the evidence is clear and overwhelming, the defendant might well decide to plea, and take a lesser sentence – which, he would deserve, as he would be saving the DA both time and money.

        Too often, dubious ‘evidence’ and use of snitches of questionable integrity have been piled up to put the screws to a reluctant defendant. The public defenders and attorneys who counsel taking a plea also bear a share of that blame. Barring PHYSICAL evidence, or being caught on camera and having the proceeds of the crime in their possession, defenders should suck it up and work with the assumed criminal.

        But that takes time and money. Pressure is on every person involved with the “justice system” to plead out ASAP.

        Maybe these cases will bring in as big a change to the courts as Miranda did.

        1. Public defenders have a 100 cases going on at once, and most of their clients are not only guilty but also stupid.
          Plea bargains become a habit because they’re the quickest and usually the best deal the client can hope for.
          But, occasionally, cases come along that they won’t do it on.
          I worked for an attorney in high school. In Gwinnett Co, GA, public defenders were private attorneys who took indigent cases on a rotational basis.
          The lawyer had a kid who was charged with murder. There was a gang scuffle and another kid got shot (the only non gang member present, of course). 10 people were charged. 6 pled to lesser charges, including the shooter. The lawyer’s client was among the 4 who didn’t plead. He participated in the fight but never interacted with the victim. The lawyer thought he was overcharged and determined to let a jury hear the case.
          The kid was convicted.

        2. “I’m having a hard time understanding how the government would seize assets of the parents – they actually are OUT money, as they paid for a service.”

          I have read claims that federal prosecutors routinely freeze the assets of defendants just to force wealthy defendants to rely on federal public defenders.

          1. Prosecutors are really scum. For the most part they have zero interest in justice and the power has gone to their heads. The system is very broken. I hope people wake up and collectively do something about it. Not to mention our 80+ year old judges who are not fit to sit on the bench.

      3. They did lay down all the charges on day one. They didn’t do it publicly. Thats how courts operate. They tell you “ look you can take this probation deal or you will have to face a boat load of charges”. That’s the main reason people take plea deals. If they didn’t put down a boat load of charges most folks wouldn’t take the plea. They’d take their chances in court. But if your told if you don’t plea but decide to go to trial this is what you’ll be facing. A long list of charges. When folks see all they’re faced with they usually take the plea. But she’s so arrogant that she really thinks she can cry and the jurors will feel sorry for the poor rich lady and let her go free. Problem is a lot of folks on that jury will be parents who have kids working they butt off trying to get good scores whikk lo e this lady paid off a person to change state scores.

        1. If you really believe that’s the way our judicial system to work then I’m scared. WE HAVE A RIGHT TO TRIAL BY A JURY OF OUR PEERS, it’s in the constitution precisely so the government (prosecutors, judges, etc) do not get too much power. If the commit a crime, the charge the should be the charge. Not layers of bullshit charges just to scare you into a plea deal. What crime did she commit? Did she bribe someone, donate to a charity she was told to donate to? She absolutely did not alter SAT scores. I, for one, do not have all the facts. I am not going to assume she’s guilty because she’s a “poor rich lady”. Why can’t she go to trial and let the facts come out. It’s her right.

    3. The idea of the government sticking their noses into this kind of thing is ridiculous. Aren’t there HUGELY bigger problems the feds should be concentrating on??? How is it corrupt for colleges to admit a student who isn’t a top flight candidate for a large cash donation? I used a relative’s pull who attended an Ivy-league school to get into that school. Is that illegal? NOPE, it is called “legacy”. Those who are delighted that the rich folks are being prosecuted (more like PERSECUTED!) are idiots, as when we let the feds push their noses into any and all aspects of life, we are encouraging them to believe there is NOTHING they can’t regulate, make illegal, etc. Was it any of the feds business that someone wanted to smoke dope? Nope, but dolts like Trip K2 (who has never skied on K2) blather and are gleeful that the “bad guys” (that is, anyone more successful than he/she) get screwed by our crooked feds. Think before you comment, K2, as right now your comment looks like it came from a K2, that is, a second-grader.

      1. Lol, I see you took my comment literally. If you chilled out a little bit, you might notice that my comment is actually critical of people that are okay with this sort of injustice happening to rich people, simply because they’re rich.

        Perhaps you should relax.

      2. You should also look up the word “facetious.”

        Have a good day CGN. I hope your blood pressure is within a healthy range.

      3. She’s not be prosecuted for donated money to a school to get in. She’s being prosecuted for paying off an official to change state testing scores. That’s illegal. She gets no pass because she’s rich and famous

        1. WRONG, please get your facts right. You are missing up the defendants.

      4. She’s not be prosecuted for donated money to a school to get in. She’s being charged for paying off an official to change state testing scores. That’s illegal.

      5. Its corrupt because it’s called cheating.
        When you submit a false application and credential( her kid didn’t have the grades) that is cheating. When you pay off the athletic director and the coach to submit that false documentation on your behalf that’s called a bribe, its illegal.
        If that’s what you and your relative did then you cheated too
        Everyone she dealt with on this scam has taken responsibility and has taken a plea yet she is innocent.
        The epitome of white privilege and entitlement.

  2. Always go to trial.

    This is an example of why. Once they stack charges or threaten you should know that the government wont stop until they make some example out of you.

    Go to trial and let 12 people decide your fate.

    1. With that being said, Americans need to stop doing what prosecutors want when serving on juries.

      1. American juries have actually gotten rather unruly by prosecutorial standards in the last ten years. In part because they’ve stopped taking cops at their word, and in part because many of them don’t regard drug offenses as crimes. I mean, it’s still pretty dire, but comparatively it’s improved a lot.

      2. I served on a jury once. It was a bullshit battery case in which one guy knocked another guy’s glasses off. Never made contact with each other. The glasses weren’t even broken. But the new prosecutor needed to try out her training wheels, so this is the case they brought – purely so she could “play prosecutor” and cost the defendant thousands of dollars for attorney’s fees.

        Jury selection took place starting at 8:00 and the case went to 9:00 at night. Turns out there was a bitch in the middle of the whole thing, doing what women do – lie to men to take advantage of them. She got these two guys good, each thinking they were protecting her from the other. By the time we retired to deliberate, as jury foreman, I posed two questions to the jury:
        1) How does every one vote (if you know)? (Not guilty – unanimous – no hesitation.) and 2) Should we eat dinner first and make the attorneys wait for us, or should we tell them the verdict now? (Wait. Again unanimous.) So we took ~45 minutes to eat and mosied back into the courtroom to deliver the verdict.

        There was one other item we voted on – and we were unanimous again. I told the prosecutor that we were angry and offended that she had wasted our time, the court’s time and the taxpayer’s resources bringing such a bullshit case. She almost choked.

        1. Thank you sincerely for that. I see so much depressing crap in the courts, but this has truly made my day.

        2. Juries can vote to dress down the prosecution? I do hope you’re not making this up, because it’s wonderful.

    2. Except that in some case, federal courts?, behavior that did not lead to a conviction (aquitted) can be used to increase the severity of sentence for convictions. Yet another reason this is a perversion.

    3. The smart move was to make a deal, like Huffman did.

      1. That’s usually the smart move for GUILTY defendants.
        The real quandary is when they are actually innocent.

      2. Plea bargains always have a cost.

        You typically get more time from a jury trial where you are convicted but you can appeal and setup a double jeopardy obstacle for the government.

        Plea bargains for most people are stupid decisions.

        1. It’s got to be illegal for a govt to punish you for exercising the right to a trial.

          1. Of course it’s illegal. And the government will get on that Any Day Now.

          2. Govt (prosecutors in this case) are out of control. FBI too, just puppets for the prosecutors in many cases.

        2. Appeals take a long, long time (often many years) and require the convicted to mount their appeal from prison.

          1. All this does is expose the other problems that government has created.

            There are too many crimes (especially victimless drug crimes) on the books, so appellate courts are swamped with those appeals. Add in bullshit civil regulation that causes floods of civil appeals, and you get a court system that is purposely bloated to prevent rapid criminal appeals.

            The lower appellate courts pass the buck on many appeals by simply rubber stamping the convictions. “non-reversable error” is a famous excuse. This goes back to courts largely refusing to hold the Executive and Legislative Branches accountable when errors are made and striking down laws and reversing convictions.

      3. Tell that to the guy from yesterday’s Brickbat who plead guilty to get out of jail and instead got sentenced to 15 years for smuggling
        “cocaine” that turned out to be milk powder.

      4. No, that is the move of a SUBJECT, not a citizen. Someone who looks down and doesn’t DARE to question the ruler.

        We’re Americans. We have pushback and ornery in our DNA.

    4. “Always go to trial.”

      Felicity Huffman must be kicking herself for refraining from following that advice. Lori Loughlin, though, must be thrilled because she seems to be handling this as suggested.

    5. I can’t agree with a blanket statement that one should always go to trial. That’s a decision that is extremely situation-specific. I can’t speak for other jurisdictions, but mine has what the defense bar refers to as a jury penalty. If you lose your jury trial, you are facing far more prison time than if you did a waiver trial or pled. Whether it’s right or wrong, that’s the reality criminal practice here. In addition, there are some cases that are terrible and hold serious consequences for the defendant. If it’s a terrible sex case and I’m given a non-SORNA offer, why would I move forward with a trial that I can’t win, especially when the alternative is lifetime sex offender registration and the collateral consequences that accompany it?

      Given that our city now has probably the most progressive prosecutor in the nation, there is little benefit to our clients in trying every single case. It’s impossible anyway given our caseloads. I remember my major trial cases having over a year and a half between court dates. People were sitting 4+ years waiting for trial because of our backlog.

      The idea that you should just try everything and that actually benefitting defendants as a whole requires a perfect storm of criminal justice system events that simply are not the reality in most jurisdictions. That storm would have to include a fair judiciary, a lack of his or racism amongst potential jury pool members, an ethical prosecutor, a reformed bail system, etc etc., and we are not there yet. Racial dynamics especially play a major role in my advising of my clients regarding trials.

    6. And DEMAND a Fully Informed Jury, and NOT some cobbled together bunch of ‘too stupid to get out of Jury Duty’ types.

      I wand an INTELLIGENT JURY that actually KNOWS the Power and the REASON for the Jury to begin with.

      fija.org

      1. Good luck with that!

  3. Duh.

    Why else do you think there are so many different overlapping charges? They exist precisely to give the state a greater ability to punish person A while letting person B off with a slap on the wrist.

    That, and to twist your arm into giving up your right to a trial.

    Let us also not forgot that crimes can be tacked on with huge sentences based on motive. As if your reason for committing a crime has any bearing on a crimes harm to a second party. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t.

    Just because you’re starving, for example, it doesn’t reduce the harm you commit by shooting someone and stealing their wallet.

    1. Lady Justice has tossed her blindfold and gained the power of telepathy.

    2. motive

      As an average layman, I’m happy we send sociopathic killers to prison for much, much longer sentences compared to someone who killed another person because they were looking at their phone while driving through a busy intersection.

      1. Hoo Boy.
        You’re entirely missing the point.
        Those two things are completely different actions that are given the distinction of two to four degrees difference in a lot of states.

        But if two people murder someone in the exact same way, with the same amount of forethought and planning, they can be treated differently based on their perceived motives (e.g. hate crime enhancements) . If prosecutors have this disgression, you can believe it’s not being applied impartially, and it’s most definitely being used to force plea agreements.

        1. ^ This guy gets it.

          One of the other problems inherent in the system is the immense amount of crime without any actual victim or harm. Those can also be stacked up on top of actual victim crimes, but it also serves as just another method of heaping more onto person A vs. person B for any crime.

        2. So? The end result is the same. The victim ends up dead. Wasn’t the original post arguing that the punishment should be based on the harm to the victim?

          You changed the premise of this entire discussion, so I don’t think your comment actually applies.

  4. If they’re innocent, will it matter?

    1. No matter how innocent you are, your lawyer’s billable hours still pile up. Meanwhile, your taxes are paying the prosecution’s attorneys. Double whammy.

  5. No…I don’t think this is a case of the Feds trying to intimidate Ms. Loughlin at all. This is a case of Ms. Loughlin is guilty AF and the Feds are throwing the book at her because of her arrogant attitude. She knew perfectly well what she was doing. I have no sympathy.

    Memo to Lori Loughlin: When you take risks, sometimes you lose.

    1. Gotta agree with you on this one, but this shouldn’t be a new charge. It should have been the original one, giving her the chance to plea down.

      1. >>>but this shouldn’t be a new charge

        this i wondered. they don’t show their hand right off

        1. Yes, but the prosecution should have to. Next, we’ll see shoplifters being upgraded to a RICO charge.

          1. yes they should. this is where The Oppression of Aunt Becky is real on some level.

            1. She’s welcome to cry on my shoulder

              1. i’m not afraid of seconds …

    2. So here we have Atlas Shrugged as a title behind which to hide the glinting teeth of an anonymous asset-forfeiture parasite. Congratulations on a Big Tent outcome, Reason.

      1. Nah….I don’t want her money, Hank. Nothing so tawdry. I want to see her a) publicly humiliated for all to see, and b) deprived of her freedom and imprisoned for a year or so.

        No…there is no buying your way out with a huge fine, this time sweetheart. You’re going to jail. The world will not weep.

      2. And Hank is a huge booster of government funded infanticide.

    3. Perhaps, and I do sincerely hope this to be true theory…

      She has ample, unassailable evidence that the local and national politicians have done the same as she, for decades without issue by the DA’s.

      Biden comes to mind….. obamas position carried a lot of weight.

      1. Her using a “Biden defense” in court would be AMAZING

  6. 30 years ago when I was in college, the first question the prof in Con Law asked was how many people we thought were in jail for crimes they didn’t commit. After various guesses of a few percent up to 10 percent, his guess was “most of them”. Thanks to plea deals that allowed for pleading guilty to a lesser offense in order to avoid going to trial for a greater, a lot of people are sentenced for crimes other than what they actually committed.

    His point was that your Constitutional rights are rights against the government, and yet the government holds so much power that you can easily be coerced into “voluntarily” waiving your rights. (Most of us are especially aware of this around April 15th when we “voluntarily” waive our rights against self-incrimination.)

    I don’t think plea deals have ever been about mercy, they’ve always been about efficiency. It’s how you wind up with people pleading guilty to intent to distribute powdered milk or passing bad checks when it’s somebody else’s name on the warrant.

    1. If the prosecutor were to literally hold a gun to the defendant’s head, any deals would be invalidated. Threaten to use the power to fuck up his life, spend decades in prison, take his children, asset-forfeiture everything from three generations of his family, indict additional family members? That’s A-OK.

      Nope. Don’t see a problem with that. Just part of the game. If he’s really innocent, he would go to trial.

    2. Amen. If the attorneys representing the defendants were actually doing their job, they would go to trial on EVERY questionable case, and bring the system to a halt.

    3. “efficiency’ and “Legacy Building” for POLITICAL reasons.

      Kamala Harris apparently has a long history of that activity.

  7. If you want the system to treat you as innocent until proven guilty, get a job as a cop. Everyone else is presumed guilty until they are railroaded into a plea, or found guilty of some small number of the fifty charges dumped on them as punishment for insisting on a trial.

    1. Cops now have the added bonus of qualified immunity, even in case where it’s a crock of shit, because there’s “no precedent” to invalidate it. Probably worth becoming a volunteer, just in case.

      1. You hit the nail on the head there!
        Added bonus of being a cop- you can shoot unarmed civilians in a crowded Costco and never be charged or lose your job a la Salvador Sanchez, LAPD. Someone in line ahead of you? Just shoot them! People running away from you and you’re on a power trip? Shoot them too! In the back! Don’t worry- your blue line wagons will circle to protect you. It’s no longer being a rich beautiful celebrity that will make you immune, as we are seeing here. But if you’re a cop you can get away with murder. Literally.

  8. karmic to not stick up for the oppressed it’s just really hard to see Aunt Becky as oppressed …

    1. Still would.

      1. are we doing stick up or stick in here?

    2. When you start talking about money laundering and asset forfeiture for what is the equivalent of paying for a really expensive SAT score adjustment… Publicly humiliate then, but the prosecutors are way over the top on this. It’s a publicity stunt about “being tough” on everyone.

      1. >>Publicly humiliate then

        this was satisfactory for me. jail is ridiculous.

      2. “Publicly humiliate then, but the prosecutors are way over the top on this. It’s a publicity stunt about “being tough” on everyone.”

        Yes. It always helps to remember that most prosecutors are entry-level politicians.

  9. Not a Jewish name on the list. Not one. A prosecutor back in DC once told me those sorts from Harvard with a pass through Princeton never get caught or if they’re caught, they’re released. I’m a bad man for noticing. I guess there were just a few too many WASPy sorts pulling the Hoboken Hustle, Harvard-Style, to get their idiotic, inbred children into school. Works for me, though. These morons taking up space and air in college just because their parents are famous is worthy of the injustice of who never gets caught and who is always released.

  10. Wait, asset forfeiture?

    Under what possible theory do they allege there are proceeds of a criminal activity to be seized? These people paid out the wazzoo to bribe their kids into top schools. They didn’t get paid.

    How in the world is that supposed to work?

    “You have money, we want it.”?

    1. The kids obtained knowledge under false pretenses, so they will themselves be held and used by the cops, like any other property seized.

      1. That’s how they sometimes treat prostitutes and pornstars…. This would just make it legal (rather than something that’s leaked, investigated, and then *gasp* no convictions!)

  11. Where have you been?

    Approximately 90% plus of California inmates are convicted by plea bargain. They know what happens if they stand trial. This also gives the District Attorneys great stats for their re-election campaigns.

    On the other hand, the whole system would implode in gridlock were the accused to assert their right to trial.

    The deplorable irony is that the street wise quickly grab ‘the deal,’ often doing a little time for serious felonies left uncharged, and the naive take it up the you know what for insisting on their ‘innocence.’

    1. I don’t think gridlock is necessarily a bad result. The extraordinary costs might prompt opportunistic politicians to reduce the number of criminal statutes, and ambitious prosecutors to be more reasonable in their charging decisions.

    2. And the various California DAs couldn’t even take 15% of cases to trial without massive budget increases at a time when California is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

      If every defendant refused to plead out, they would be forced to outright drop 80% of cases.

  12. It’s nice to see Shakford talking badly about prosecutorial malfeasance after defending it the last 2 years.

  13. “Federal Prosecutors Are Punishing Actor Lori Loughlin for Exercising Her Right To Defend Herself.”

    First, this peasant has no legal right to own a firearm in our beloved socialist slave state.
    Secondly, she has no right to defend herself. The person(s) who attacked her were being exploited by the capitalist system that enslaved them, forced them to turn to the work force in order to obtain money, and they are the true victims of this merciless for-profit society.
    Lastly, let us all hope and pray those judges sitting on the local Soviet Court will find this fiendish woman guilty and sentence her to many years in the gulag for having the temerity to think she was above socialist law in owning a firearm and thinking she has a right to defend herself against the poor and the oppressed.
    It makes you think what’s this country coming to?

  14. The plea bargain system is shit, and absolutely needs reform.
    Agreed.

    Now do Michael Flynn, bitch

    1. >bitch

      misdemeanor,

      1. Come get me, massholes!

    2. Flynn?

      That jerk sold off everything he had to pay for his legal defense. Now the state doesn’t have any assets to seize. They should lock him away forever as a warning to others who might want to do the same.

      As long as the wealthy can use their assets for their legal defense, there will be no equality. Everyone should be forced to use the public defender’s office. It is only fair.

      1. Since the ‘district attorney’ has access to UNLIMITED legal assistance, the TAXPAYER should also have the SAME access at the same level.

        Make it a “loser pays” system where the district attorney, if he brings a weak case, should pay. OUT OF HIS POCKET and leave the taxpayer money where it belongs.

    3. The plea bargain system is shit, and absolutely needs to be eliminated outright.

      FTFY

      1. Get ready for jury duty if they do. If they get rid of plea bargaining, people are going to spend a substantial part of their lives in the jury box.

  15. How the hell can you spend 25 years in prison for bribing someone to let your kid into college? The victims of the scandal (applicants who may have been unfairly edged) deserve justice that amounts to a 25 year prison sentence for the offender?

    1. Knee jerk reactionary law making the latest rage.

  16. Bribery – Using money to cheat the standard admissions process? Hmm… Sounds like the general elections or something.

    “We’ll pay for your healthcare if you vote for us.”

    1. What’s really rich is the Prosecutors “bribing” the defendant with “plea-bargains” while the defendant is on trial for “bribery”.

  17. There is nothing new about the “trial penalty,” meaning the extra punishment sought by federal prosecutors and imposed by federal judges, on those defendants who exercise their almost-certainly-futile right to a jury trial.
    Federal juries are carefully controlled and intimidated by judges and no defendant is likely to get a fair trial. That’s why more than 99% of those indicted by federal indictment are convicted. Plead guilty early and get a lesser sentence, or go to trial and get a longer sentence.
    There is no justice in federal criminal law. This has been going on for decades.

  18. Prosecutors should be REQUIRED to prepare an honest and accurate and complete indictment when charges are first laid. When the defendant confesses then apply whatever spiffs they dedided to apply when they indicted. More lenient sentence, suspension for certain non-central charges,etc. o

    This business of being indicted, then findin out “we got more on ya, so start jigging to OUR fiddle. “.

    That is not blind justice.

    1. Minor modification: prosecutors should be required to charge all offenses they plan to based on the evidence they possess.

      We don’t want prosecutors hobbled when they charge a serial mass murderer with drunk driving, when they start finding bodies before trial.

  19. If you get your kid into college illegally, we send you to prison. If you get your kid into the country illegally, we send him to college.

    1. ^^ Absolutely brilliant 🙂

  20. All prosecutors are scum. That is all.

  21. “Plea deals aren’t about mercy these days. They’re about intimidating defendants into giving up the right to a trial.”

    This is nothing new at all.

  22. Same reason Flynn and Manafort pleaded guilty to manufactured crimes. When they’ll prosecute your wife for signing the joint tax return, you fold.

  23. Isn’t it a natural thing for parents to offer all kinds of things to help their kids get ahead?
    The real criminals are the ones, who abuse their position to grant those kids the advantage, for whatever is offered.
    What is the punishment being given to the people, who sold and abused the trust given to them?

  24. How is this even a crime, rather than just violation of the rules of that college? And even then, isn’t the violation by someone in the admissions process?

    Is this more of that “honest services fraud” bullshit?

  25. I agree. This is too tough. How about we just increase rich people’s taxes sufficiently so that we take down these rich assholes a few wrings on the ladder? Sound good?

    1. So stealing via another government agency is better? Your flight to Pyonyang is ready.

  26. Wrong crime. She was a member of the cast of Full House. Anybody associated with that showshould be summarily executed by a revolutionary cadre of militant proletarians

    1. Hummm, seems a bit extreme. I mean it was a show for preteens and they are all bad.

  27. It’s why it’s called a plea BARGAIN or a plea DEAL. Both parties get something out of it. Don’t pretend like this is some kind of surprise that they are adding additional charges. You even said yourself that it’s common. I guaran-goddamn-tee that when they were offered a deal, the possibility of other subsequent charges was discussed.

    1. The argument is that the charges are over charging to intimidate into an easy conviction. Less work, less money spent on actual justice.

      1. Yeah, let’s all weep for the poor rich white woman who’s facing the “injustice” of actually having to answer for her actions. Much better that we spend time incarcerating people for possessing/smoking a little pot. *rolls eyes*

    2. Yeah, Tony, the same kind of deal the Mafia offers.

  28. PBS Frontline – The Plea (2004). Discussion and 4 disturbing examples.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8H14K62a5U

  29. It is, however, an excellent opportunity to talk about the fact that our criminal justice system punishes defendants not just for breaking the law, but also for exercising their constitutional rights.

    Exactly why I look at the Charlottesville driver conviction with suspicion. I doubt he expected a fair trial.

    1. So, now we’re supposed to have sympathy for a white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd.
      Well, I can see where your priorities lie.

  30. So they rejected the Plea deal and additional charges they should have been charged with in the first place were added. I ask, did they know this was going to happen were they told this and given “an OUT”. and did not except it. I have no issue with this. You are given an opportunity to get it over quick an easy and if you get a choice. It is obvious they are guilty of the new charges, so they should have taken the deal.

    1. I am very curious to know what her defense is going to be.

  31. Plea deals aren’t about mercy these days. They’re about intimidating defendants into giving up the right to a trial.

    Plea deals have always been about getting defendants to plead guilty, thereby avoiding a trial. The prosecutor gets an immediate conviction, thereby avoiding the time and expense of a trial. The accused gets a conviction, normally of a lesser offense, and a lighter sentence than likely would have resulted from a conviction at trial.

    Pleas deals are everyday occurrences in every jurisdiction in this country. There’s nothing nefarious about them. They benefit everyone. Without pleas deals, our courts would grind to a halt.

    1. There would be nothing nefarious about a plea deal that reduced a 25 year sentence to 20 years. But when the plea deal is the difference between 25 years in prison and a few months in jail, either the prosecutor grossly overcharged for a minor crime, or the prosecutor corruptly let a major criminal off with the charges and sentence for a minor crime. And that is assuming that there is no doubt that the charges could be proved in court – these tactics are often also used to avoid a trial that would allow the defense to examine the witnesses and evidence.

  32. I’m still not convinced of what the crime was.

    Apparently she paid a school official to get her kids in. And? When a billionaire does that and gives enough money to build a library to get his kid in its OK?

    1. Her crime was being rich enough to think she could pay to avoid ‘the rules’ while not actually being rich enough to be able to pay to avoid the rules.

      That’s basically it.

      She did what every billionaire donor has done throughout history. She just doesn’t have enough money to buy the the college through the ‘acceptable’ channels.

      1. This! The bribe was too small and paid to the wrong people.

    2. “I’m still not convinced of what the crime was.”

      Pretty sure you’d be safe calling it a ‘victimless crime’.

    3. In the case of a donation to build a library (or whatever it was that Kushner donated for) the benefit goes to the school and the students, rather than personally enriching one of the staff members. Kind of like the difference between paying a fine for speeding and bribing a cop not to fine you.

    4. Then you’re asking the wrong question: instead of asking what her crime was, you should be asking why aren’t those billionaires being charged as well when what they do amounts to the same thing. Stop playing the “what about” game.

  33. Meanwhile Hilary got away with FAR worse.

    1. And the Republican Party continues to let Trump get away with even worse than that.

      1. There was no collusion – get over it already.

  34. Finally, I have been saying this since the get-go.

  35. When are they going to get to the politicians and their parents who got their stupid children into great schools by buying a new library or for dedicating public funds to a university hospital for a new wing?

    1. I’m Hunter Biden and I do NOT approve this comment!

  36. These sorts of tactics by prosecutors are not “common” they are standard practice. Most charges brought by prosecutors are intended only as a way to pressure the accused into taking a plea.

    Receiving harsh punishment after opting for trial is casually referred to as the “trial penalty.” A penalty for exercising a fundamental right should be at least somewhat unsettling to those who consider themselves as constitutional originalists.

  37. Oh, wash. The prosecution isn’t tightening the screws to subvert 6th amendment rights, it is incentivizing the defendants to avoid taxing the system for the cost of a trial. It’s pretty blatantly obvious they knew what they were doing, that it was illegal and immoral. Well maybe not immoral since they seem to be so entitled.

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  39. This is a case where if you can’t get bad people to behave we then go after others as an example. It is totally wrong!

    Society’s inability to get people to obey its rules and laws has dire consequences. Not enforcing laws to deter minor acts of stealing and such impacts our culture over time. Sadly this is not a problem just in America. Across the world, the cost of enforcement and crumbling justice systems have forced courts to prioritize crimes by seriousness.

    This means many prosecutors are now letting petty criminals walk free for crimes such as shoplifting, minor assault, vandalism, and fraud. The article below explores this trend and its ramifications.

    https://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2019/06/societys-inability-to-get-people-to.html

  40. There are so many laws and underlying regulations on how to enforce the laws that the government doesn’t even know how many laws there are. This makes it impossible for the average citizen to use their conscience and common sense to act honestly. The book “Three Felonies a Day” suggests that everyone is guilty of commuting three felonies every day. In the prosecutors mind, everyone has committed a crime, so they don’t deserve a trial.

  41. I’ve been reading the comments about this from the beginning. If you can afford to fight charges in court, you should. Its like the whole public wants people to just lay down and accept charges. Heres some insider info! DA’s and bad defense attornies ALWAYS look to make a deal. The DA’s are all about the winning record. They don’t give a rats ass if you did it or not. They want the W. Felicity Huffman admitted that she paid to have test scores fixed. Laughlin hasn’t even been accused of that!! She simply made a huge cash donation to get her daughters into school. If you think that doesn’t happen dozens of time in North America daily, you’re beyond niave. There are DA’s who have been in office for years who have never tried a case! A good defense lawyer usually can make mincemeat out of them in court. Look at what happened so far, the judge keeps lowering the sentances and ridiculing the DA. These are people who accepted pleas! Imagine whats going to happen in court to the people who fight! When you get in trouble, and pay a lawyer to defend you, watch if the first thing they do is try to get you to accept a plea. This happens in 99% of cases. You argue “I’m innocent!, I didn’t do it” and they counter I know, but you cant AFFORD justice. Its a system ruled by lazy people, who are all looking to make as much money as possible with the littlest amount of work.

    1. And the public has been programmed to believe everybody charged is guilty. Look at the TV shows where the DA character is always telling the cops they need iron clad evidence or they won’t bring thw case. LOL You get charged, that’s it. The DA doesn’t care that all the facts are on their side! They simply follow through on the charges. What happened to that Smollett a-hole is the rarity!

      1. So, what is the current status of the Smollett prosecution?

  42. Rich people, who can afford to hire dream teams, don’t have to go to jail. Their armies of lawyers will discover some flaw in the process that brought their clients to justice, & their clients will walk. And if the lawyers can’t find a flaw, they’ll exploit the emotions of the jurors. They’ll say things like, “This poor woman, who we all know & love, was acting out of love to do the best for her children that she could.” And the blubbering jury (fans of “Full House”) will return a verdict of “not guilty.”

    Yes, people, there are two standards of justice in America. One for the rich & powerful. And another for commoners.

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