U.S.Department of Justice Moves to Curb Use of Waivers in Guilty Pleas
In its September 27-28, 2014 edition, the Wall Street Journal reported in a story entitled “U.S. Moves to Curb Use of Waivers in Guilty Pleas” (Section A4) that the DOJ is finally considering amending its policy.
The Journal reports that fully a third of the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices have moved to a standard waiver-of-appeal provision in all plea agreements. The story further reports that bar associations in twelve states have condemned the practice as unethical and improper. Normally, the DOJ does not much care what positions state bar associations take on a given subject, believing associations to be populated with criminal defense attorneys acting in their own clients’ interests.
But the Journal reports that, drawing upon such bar association positions, federal judges are becoming increasingly critical of the widespread use of waivers. The DOJ cares a great deal more about what judges do, of course, than about what defense lawyers think.
The DOJ, according to the Journal, will this week announce that it will no longer allow its prosecutors to require defendants to waive all appeals, instead preserving for appeal any claim of ineffective assistance, presumably whether it occurs in the plea negotiation and hearing process or at sentencing.