May 06, 2005

Admitting Guilt

Lyndie England just got caught trying to have things both ways in her Abu Ghraib trial. She wanted to plead guilty but not really. She entered a plea bargain which demanded that she admit guilt but during the punishment phase of the trial, her defense team repeatedly brought forth witnesses who undercut the idea that she was guilty or that she was responsible for her actions.

The judge, finally having enough, declared a mistrial. More power to him because that means that England now has to renegotiate from a much weakened position. The prosecution can go for the maximum sentence and pull in the previous trial's guilty plea as evidence. The societal purpose of a guilty plea is to trade a reduced sentence for a clear admission of guilt and full information that removes all doubt as to what happened. This isn't the first time that defense lawyers have tried to have their cake and eat it too. This time they got caught. I hope that it'll be the start of a trend.

HT: The Annotated Times

Posted by TMLutas at May 6, 2005 08:48 AM