Plea Bargaining (SC)

Section 1, J-Term 23

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 12/16
Credits: 1
Days* Time Room Start Date End Date
  • TWRF
  • 0900-1200
  • WB162
01/17/2023 01/20/2023
*“R” means Thursday

Course Description

This short course will focus on plea bargaining and the guilty plea system. In modern America, the criminal trial is a rarity. In some jurisdictions, it is practically nonexistent. Instead, almost all cases are resolved by guilty pleas, typically entered into after some form of plea bargaining. We will survey the variety of practices collectively defined as plea bargaining. We will discuss plea bargaining’s perceived advantages and disadvantages: whether, on the one hand, it unduly sacrifices accuracy and formality for the good of expediency; or, on the other hand, whether it facilitates compromise in arenas where adversarial heavy combat is less than optimal. We will explore the degree to which plea bargaining has affected the roles and responsibilities of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys; and we will examine the different contexts in which these changes make more or less sense. Additionally, we will analyze whether plea bargains successfully reflect probable trial outcomes, or, instead, whether cognitive biases and institutional arrangements and pressures lead parties to reach agreements outside the shadow of law and trial. Finally, we will evaluate the adequacy of efforts to regulate, reform, and/or abolish plea bargaining. The grade will be based on short analysis papers and class participation.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students will be required to submit response papers directly to the professor (not via EXPO).

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Saturday, January 14, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Monday, January 23, 11:59 PM