Eradicating Assembly-Line Justice: an Opportunity Lost by the Revised American Bar Association Criminal Justice Standards

 In Symposium

Every day in criminal courts across the country, thousands of people enter guilty pleas within hours of their arrest at their initial appearance or arraignment before a judge. The practice is so rampant that it has spawned its own phrase—“meet ‘em, greet ‘em, and plead ‘em”—that derisively, but accurately, captures the routine. And while in many jurisdictions these are uncounseled pleas as defendants waive their right to counsel or are simply not provided attorneys,3 in New York City, where every person accused is provided with defense counsel, there were still about 62,000 arraignment guilty pleas entered in 2015.

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