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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Ruling shows will to reform

    The U.S. Supreme Court came to a smart decision on Wednesday by ruling that “criminal defendants have a constitutional right to effective lawyers during plea negotiations,” according to The New York Times.

    Criminal defendants deserve to face a more formal and regulated process of plea bargaining. Whether or not the defendant is guilty, he or she still needs to be able to see all of his or her options as clearly as possible.

    In that same article, effective lawyers boil down to the fact “that what used to be informal and unregulated deal making is now subject to new constraints when bad legal advice leads defendants to reject favorable plea offers.”

    The importance of guilty pleas is obvious when looking at the numbers. According to The New York Times, about 97 percent of federal convictions resulted from guilty pleas, with 94 percent in state convictions for 2006.

    These plea deals decide whether people spend a year or a decade in prison. Whether the general public agrees with what the defendant did or not, there is a reason that these policies exist.

    The Sixth Amendment guarantees a fair trial, but the word “fair” can be incredibly subjective. Many court cases from centuries ago are still analyzed, but that is what is supposed to happen. The U.S. Supreme Court does not deal with open-and-shut cases.

    This decision confronts the idea of fixing the system. The court system and its many operators do great work for the nation. This decision to expand the protections of criminal defendants just shows how much more attorneys can do.

    No one is getting thrown under the bus — instead, the highest court in the United States is admitting that there still needs to be fine-tuning.

    Decisions by the Supreme Court don’t just affect the people directly impacted by the outcome of what they implement. Every case sets precedent and brings up new questions. The judiciary branch of the federal government is independent of Congress, separated from political squabbles.

    Furthermore, these judges are not dealing with just the imminent present, but also centuries to come. Pointing out what needs fixing seems like a smart move from a judiciary body that deals with so many controversial cases.

    If all of the states can listen and try to alter the judicial system in a positive direction, this ruling will not just help who pleads guilty. It will also help everyday people see transparency in a government that needs it.

    — Megan Hurley is a journalism junior. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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