Legitimacy, Courts and State-Induced Guilty Pleas in Britain
The guilty plea process established by judges, while placing a premium on cost-effectiveness, remains embedded in a legal framework, which, it is claimed, serves to secure correct outcomes and protect against error. This, indeed, is a necessary requirement both to deliver justice on the ground but also to project the appearance of formal legality. The certainty and celerity of punishment which State-induced guilty pleas claims to achieve must be accompanied by the assurance that expedition does not imply less vigilance, so that, to use for pedagogic purposes the categories made fashionable by Auld (2001), 'the innocent' are protected from wrongful conviction and 'the guilty' receive punishment. In the absence of an independent tribunal of fact and conventional procedures to secure compliance with rules regarding admissibility of evidence and the burden and standard of proof, the guarantee is primarily to be found in the personnel of the law: prosecutors, judges and defence lawyers. In this chapter we examine the extent to which prosecutors and judges provide such assurance that concerns over State-induced pleas may be properly allayed, before turning to defence lawyers in Chapter 6.
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