Attorneys who, like me, spend most of their time representing people accused of federal crimes know far too well what the academic researchers and writers call the “Trial Penalty.” This is the well-documented aspect of the federal criminal justice system in which any person with the nerve to stand up to the federal government in a criminal case receives an inordinately huge punishment, or penalty, simply because that person decided to use the Sixth Amendment’s promise of a jury trial. Here is a recent group of articles in a highly respected journal discussing various aspects of the “Trial Penalty”.
The research is clear. Trials are down, way down. Punishments are going up. But, punishments for the rare few who dare to challenge “the feds” in court are really going up, higher and higher. Continue reading