High Profile Defendants Rejecting Plea Deals
John Edwards did it. So did Roger Clemens. They both rejected plea deals. John Edwards’ plea deal included serving time in federal prison. Roger Clemens rejected a plea deal that would have spared him being caged. Both went for broke and won.
It’s a lot easier “beating the system” when you have fame and finances. Most people shoved through the courts are bled their last dollar, either through bail money or to pay the outrageous fees to get their car from impound. Cops are also more likely to push around disenfranchised or marginalized groups, fabricate charges, charge stack, or even beat and tase them compared to those with higher social profiles.
By Edwards and Clemens not taking the plea deal and winning, maybe some people will be inspired to do the same. More people might realize that the prosecution is supposed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt rather than taking the easy way out with a coerced plea deal.
Still, we can’t forget that with the watchful eye of high-priced attorneys, with the news media listening to every word, prosecutors and judges perform differently than in front of an empty courtroom and a lone defendant with little means. This is why it is important to monitor courtrooms and support those charged with victimless crimes who insist on a trial. If more cases went to trial, the system would clog and (the hope is) prosecutors overloaded with cases not accepting plea deals would turn instead to crimes where there are actual victims. This is why it’s important to publicly record trials, allow for transparency and accountability of a system that holds a monopoly on force and imprisonment.