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Bargaining in the Shadow of Trial? Exploring the Reach of Evidence Outside the Jury Box

Award Information

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $511,283)

This research seeks to operationalize and estimate the impact of strength of evidence in plea bargaining. The leverage value of a plea is the difference between a trial sentence and a pled sentence, and the expected value of trial is the sentence 'multiplied' by the probability of conviction. Phase I entails an online survey of State/local judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys (each n=1,000), recruited with assistance of professional judicial, defense, and prosecutor associations. Subjects are randomly assigned to hypothetical robbery case scenarios varying on eyewitness/confession/DNA/unknown evidence; responses address the relative importance in charging, plea/trial sentences, probability of conviction, and willingness to plea. Phase II entails data extraction from n=523 adult felony casefiles closed between 2004 and 2005 (sampling dismissed and pled, taking all trial) in 3 Upstate NY district attorney offices to examine the relative importance in probability of conviction and trial, also controlling for legal (weapons) and nonlegal (race) factors.


Date Created: September 20, 2009