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Articles by David Reutter

Prosecutor’s Sentencing Message to Defendant: Insist on Trial, Pay with Your Liberty

by David M. Reutter

For persons inexperienced with the criminal justice system, it seems incomprehensible that an innocent person would plead guilty. The threat of a trial penalty, however, pushes many innocents to do just that. The cases of Pamela Moses and Levonta Barker illustrate how prosecutors abuse their discretion ...

New Jersey Supreme Court: Youth May Be Considered as a Mitigating Factor but Not Aggravating Factor in Sentencing

by David M. Reutter

The Supreme Court of New Jersey held that a defendant’s youth may be considered only as a mitigating factor in sentencing and cannot support an aggravating factor as to whether the defendant would commit another offense under N.J.S.A § 2C:44-1(a)(3).

That holding was issued in an ...

Tenth Circuit Announces District Court Abused Discretion by Imposing Harsher Sentence Based on Defendant’s Decision to Plead Guilty Without Plea Agreement

by David M. Reutter

In a case of first impression in any circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), it was procedurally unreasonable for the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to impose a harsher sentence upon a ...

The Right to be Forgotten

by David M. Reutter

Success in having a court record expunged may shroud it from public records disclosure, but where one lives determines if there is a right to be forgotten. Some states have automatic expungement laws, but the right to be forgotten by the media is another matter entirely. ...

Michigan Supreme Court: IAC Where Defense Counsel Failed to Request Instruction on Defense-of-Others for Nonassaultive Offense of Home Invasion, Orders New Trial

by David M. Reutter

The Supreme Court of Michigan held that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to request a defense-of-others jury instruction for defendants who were on trial for home invasion and felonious assault.  

Jeremiah and Micheline Leffew moved to Michigan in September 2017 and moved in with Jeremiah’s ...

Study Examines the ‘Black Box’ of Prosecutorial Charging and Plea Bargaining Discretion

by David M. Reutter

Prosecutors are empowered with unparalleled and nearly unchecked discretion in making charging and plea-bargaining decisions. Their decisions have been called a “black box” for their inscrutability. A recent study casts some light onto the how and why of those decisions.

The role of prosecutorial discretion has ...

Systematic Lying in Plea Bargaining Is a Feature, Not a Flaw

by David M. Reutter

Systematic “lying at plea bargaining allows defendants the opportunity to negotiate fair resolutions to their cases in the face of a deeply unfair system, even as that lying makes way for—and sustains—the problematic system it seeks to avoid,” wrote Thea Johnson, an associate professor at Rutgers ...

Sixth Circuit: Government Violated Plea Agreement by Arguing for Sentence Exceeding Guidelines Range, Despite Promise Not to ‘Suggest in Any Way’ Variance Is Appropriate

by David M. Reutter

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held the Government violated a plea agreement by arguing for a sentence that exceed the Guidelines. It remanded for resentencing before a different district court judge.

The Court’s opinion was the second time the issue was before ...

Plea Bargaining: An Illegitimate System to Administer Justice?

by David M. Reutter

A counseled plea bargain is the fastest and most economical resolution to a criminal case. The American justice system has come to tolerate and encourage plea bargains because of these attributes. Recent studies, however, find that a defendant who enters a plea with the assistance of ...

Iowa Supreme Court Reverses Conviction Where Prosecutor Allowed to Amend Trial Information at Trial to Charge a ‘Wholly New and Different Offense’

by David M. Reutter

The Supreme Court of Iowa reversed a conviction where the trial court allowed the prosecutor to amend an information at trial and abandon the original charge to bring a more severe charge.

The Court’s opinion was issued in an appeal by Jameesha Renea Allen after a ...



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