Tuesday, November 27, 2007
As noted here, Oscar Wyatt received a sentence of a year and a day on his guilty plea. Tom Kirkendall at Houston ClearThinkers calls it "Hedging the Trial Penalty." This sentence for Wyatt's role in the U.N.'s Oil-For-Food program is a below guidelines sentence. It is a sentence being given to an 83-year-old man who pleaded guilty mid-trial to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As noted here he faced an enormous risk in going to trial. On one side you have him waiving the right to a jury trial. On the other side he is choosing not to roll the dice and risk the chance of a guilty finding after a jury trial, a finding with severe ramifications because of the higher sentence given post-trial.
But should individuals receive a higher sentence because they avail themselves of their constitutional right to a trial by jury? Is efficiency so important to our system that we should so heavily reward individuals who enter pleas?