The Vanishing Jury Trial

The NY Times examines the disappearance of jury trials in the Southern District of NY – where there were only 50 in 2015. Nationally, 97% of cases are resolved by plea, compared to 81% in 1980. Legal experts attribute the decline primarily to the increased power of prosecutors, resulting largely from sentencing guidelines and the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, as well as overcriminalization – the result of which is to  discourage defendants from going to trial, where, if convicted, they might face incredibly harsh sentences.

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