Innocent Defendants Pleading Guilty


United States District Judge Jed Rakoff recently wrote an interesting and timely article in the New York Review of Books highlighting the risk of innocent defendants pleading guilty and offering a proposal aimed at reducing this risk. (Jed S. Rakoff, Why Innocent People Plead Guilty, N.Y. REV. BOOKS, NOV. 20, 2014). Judge Rakoff recommends changing the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to allow federal magistrate judges to participate in plea negotiations early in criminal cases just as they now participate in settlement negotiations in civil cases. In this column we examine the reasons why we share Judge Rakoff’s concern and offer an assessment of his proposal.


legal ethics, innocent, guilty, plea bargaining, prosecutorial poweer

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Criminal Justice

Publication Information

30 (Spring) Criminal Justice 45 (2015)

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