Bluemount Bulldogs
Nova Scotia, Canada
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Contract Law Plea Agreements

In some jurisdictions, prosecutors and defendants may work with judges to determine in advance what sentence the defendants will receive if the defendants agree to pleadings. However, in most jurisdictions, the role of judges in the hearing of pleadings is limited. For example, federal judges retain final authority over trial decisions and are not bound by prosecutors` recommendations, even if the recommendations are part of pleadings. Similarly, federal judges should not be directly involved in negotiations on Plea Bargains. This article then argues that the inclusion of one of these safeguard measures – the implied good faith and fair trade agreement – would lead to legal reform in three negotiation scenarios in which the accused plaintiffs would be treated less well than the parties to other treaties: according to the Legal Aid Office of the Ministry of Justice, “The overwhelming majority (90 to 95 per cent) of cases result in pleadings.” The high court found that the prosecutor had violated the pleading agreement by his repeated and revolting references to Morales` criminal history in his sentencing memorandum. The higher court imposed the literal conditions of the promise and required the prosecutor to be strictly adhered to. Morales will eventually receive the six-month prison sentence for which he negotiated. Not surprisingly, the judge rejected the pleading agreement (after learning of Morales` vast criminal context), did not allow Morales to withdraw his plea (which the judge should have done), and sentenced Morales to three times the agreed 21 months after sentence. Morales appealed. This article is the first attempt to defend the concept of Plea Agreements as constitutional treaties and to establish a basic rule of construction that should guide judges in interpreting Plea Bargains. She presents two theses.

First, appeal agreements are constitutional treaties whose constitutional protection covers all matters relating to remedies. Second, due process requires that plaintiff defendants treat at least as well as parties to other contracts, which means that all safeguards related to contract law should be included in the right of negotiation by the consultation procedure clause. While Plea Bargaining allows the criminal justice system to conserve resources, pleadings are controversial. . . .