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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:27 pm 
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This seems like a good place to start. It sounds like this case was fairly popular and somewhat successful CJS year and it looks pretty topical so it'll probably be run again this year. Any thoughts?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:32 pm 
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Excuse my lack of knowledge on the case, but what exactly did this do? CJS was my novice year and I can't say that I remember all of the cases that well :). Was the case meant to increase, eliminate, or scale down mandatory minimums? Some specifics on HOW the case was run would be appreciated.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:51 pm 
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JohnMarkPorter1 wrote:
Excuse my lack of knowledge on the case, but what exactly did this do? CJS was my novice year and I can't say that I remember all of the cases that well :). Was the case meant to increase, eliminate, or scale down mandatory minimums? Some specifics on HOW the case was run would be appreciated.


Mandatory minimums=minimum sentences (e.g. 10 years in prison) for certain crimes. The MMs are legislative and bind judges by not allowing them to issue sentences below the minimum.

Most cases eliminated MMs on the basis of injustice (tons of terrible stories of someone receiving too harsh a sentence because of the minimum) and/or breach of separation of government (i.e. legislative controlling judicial).

Some arguments against the case include judicial activism DA, racism DA (really just an impact of judicial activism), historical basis for MMs, and the necessity for certain MMs (e.g. in cases of murder, rape, kidnapping, etc.).

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:04 pm 
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One thing I used to do to get around DAs is I'd try and outweigh them by adding an extra harm about letting criminals go free. I had evidence that people often just acquit criminals rather than give them a sentence with a minimum, because the minimum is so unjust.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 5:26 pm 
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Cyberknight wrote:
One thing I used to do to get around DAs is I'd try and outweigh them by adding an extra harm about letting criminals go free. I had evidence that people often just acquit criminals rather than give them a sentence with a minimum, because the minimum is so unjust.


That's certainly an interesting response and I'm inclined to like it, but I also am inclined to doubt the validity of the card on a few bases and I have issues with the argument anyway. For one, guilty acquittals are unheard of enough that they often make the news when they occur. Second, juries don't sentence and discussion of sentencing is often not permitted in argument so I doubt that the jury would make an acquittal on a basis of sentencing. Third, even if your claim is 100% valid, removal of MMs could still result in biased guilt determinants/sentencing, as juries would, according to your logic, convict at a higher frequency but judges could still sentence with disparity. Fourth, nullification (which is essentially a guilty acquittal done because a conviction would be unjust) is a legitimate aspect of our court system. Fifth, the goal of the justice system isn't to get convictions, it's to achieve justice; justice doesn't always mean punishment for breaking the law, because laws can be unjust and so can punishment.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:54 pm 
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I responded in four different ways-some of these might not be as strong since the topic is courts, not CJS. Firstly, Judicial discretion might not always be perfect, but it's better than the alternative-mandatory minimums. Secondly, giving judges discretion is what the founders intended with the Separation of Powers; they didn't intend Congress to preside over sentencing. Thirdly, the longer sentences incurred by mandatory minimums have been statistically shown to increase likelihood of recidivism, so even if judicial discretion would incur much shorter sentences, that would probably be preferable. Fourthly, because sentences for non-violent drug offenders (the majority of prisoners in prisons across the US) will be shorter, prison populations will shrink, which will allow prisons/correctional facilities to be more effective, despite the prisoners being there for a shorter amount of time.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:08 pm 
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Drew wrote:
For one, guilty acquittals are unheard of enough that they often make the news when they occur.

Criminals getting let free before minimums existed were also uncommon enough that they made the news. If fact, I dare say they were less common.

Quote:
Second, juries don't sentence and discussion of sentencing is often not permitted in argument so I doubt that the jury would make an acquittal on a basis of sentencing.

Yeah, that's why it's a kind of a funny argument. I mean, technically they CAN know the minimum (it's all public information), but you wouldn't think it would come up very often. I have a judge saying it does, though. And it makes some sense, because people in the jury can discuss the sentence even if the attorneys don't.

EDIT: I actually just reread the card from my backfiles, and it talks about judges AND juries acquitting when there were minimums. Judges know the minimums well, so that makes sense. So at least for bench trials, this harm is totally legit.

EDIT 2: I actually just read the report that the card I read was from, and it makes things a little clearer. According to the report, even in Jury trials, Judges often avoid the minimums by a) encouraging the jury to acquit even if the person did commit a crime, and b) telling the jury what the minimums are (apparently, this is a common practice).

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Third, even if your claim is 100% valid, removal of MMs could still result in biased guilt determinants/sentencing, as juries would, according to your logic, convict at a higher frequency but judges could still sentence with disparity.

Right, but it's a good thing to sentence with disparity, and a bad thing to just not convict at all.

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Fourth, nullification (which is essentially a guilty acquittal done because a conviction would be unjust) is a legitimate aspect of our court system.

I agree. However, nullification ON THE BASIS OF AN UNJUST MINIMUM is not a good form of nullification. Nullification is only good if the jury thinks the conviction is unjust based on the fact that it goes against the spirit of the law, or because the law is unjust to begin with. That's not the issue here. We're talking about nullifying just because it's either give them a sentence they don't deserve or give them nothing at all.

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Fifth, the goal of the justice system isn't to get convictions, it's to achieve justice; justice doesn't always mean punishment for breaking the law, because laws can be unjust and so can punishment.

Right, but we'll still achieve more justice without minimums, because that way the options aren't 1) let the thug go free or 2) give him a sentence he doesn't deserve. Instead, you can give him a sentence he DOES deserve, which achieves justice better.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:33 pm 
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DA: Corrupt Judges. Maybe?

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 11:53 am 
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The Founders, who did indeed advocate separation of powers, nevertheless had no problem with mandatory minimums. The very first Congress established mandatory minimum sentencing for some federal crimes in 1790 (piracy, for example).

Since 97% of all federal criminal cases are plea bargained, the likelihood of a jury ever being influenced by mand-min is tiny in proportion to the total number of cases.

The real risk of mand-min is that prosecutors use them to threaten defendants during plea-bargaining. "Hey if you don't plead guilty to x , then we'll also throw in y and z and each of those has an additional 10-year mandatory minimum."

On the other hand, dig back through the history of "why" mand-mins were established. For example, the history of the federal child pornography mand-min shows that it was established because Congress found that judges were letting the guilty off with light sentences, and wanted to fix it.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 4:28 pm 
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So I'm not sure if this is a legitimate approach when going neg. against this case but if the plan was to completely abolish MMS then could you run a counter-plan or minor repair to simply lower MMS? OR if they were running a minor reform to MMS could you argue to completely abolish MMS? Like I said I'm not to familiar with running counter-plans or minor repairs yet so I don't know if it would work.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:27 pm 
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Seabass00 wrote:
So I'm not sure if this is a legitimate approach when going neg. against this case but if the plan was to completely abolish MMS then could you run a counter-plan or minor repair to simply lower MMS? OR if they were running a minor reform to MMS could you argue to completely abolish MMS? Like I said I'm not to familiar with running counter-plans or minor repairs yet so I don't know if it would work.


Sure, you could do that. If you have good warrants for why to prefer reform over abolition or vice versa, then a CP would be perfectly reasonable (or an implied CP, love those).

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 3:42 am 
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So most mandatory minimums cases fall into two categories:
ABOLISH THEM ALL!!!!
Abolish mandatory minimums for non-violent offenses

Does anyone have a definition of non-violent offenses (and, more specifically, the specific crimes that are legally considered "non-violent")? I've found a few of violent offenses but they seem very generic (murder, and 3 other types that I forgot).

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:34 am 
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In my opinion, abolishing them for nonviolent offenses makes a bit more sense, because if a crime is not violent, choosing an appropriate punishment is a lot more subjective.

As for definitions, I know they exist because I used them CJS year. Can't remember where you find them though. As I recall, an offense is violent if you physically harm someone or threaten to do so. Mere possession of a weapon does not count as "violent."

EDIT: Also there's this. http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/a ... rimes.html

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 3:50 pm 
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Cyberknight wrote:
EDIT: Also there's this. http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/a ... rimes.html

Yep, that was the common definition used CJS year.

As far as MM go, what about the argument of partisan judges? Example: A Liberal minded judge would be more likely to be extremely lenient on a drug offender whereas a Conservative judge would be more likely to crack (no pun intended) down harder on a drug offender. That isn't fair or right in the least bit. Regardless of the judge's opinion on drugs, it is the decided policy of the United States that drugs should be illegal and the judicial system should punish offenders. Is it right that the judges should be able to voice their differing opinions on drug crimes by assigning radically different scale punishments?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 8:38 pm 
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The problem with that argument is that you assume inconsistency is a bad thing. Problem is, one could argue that the liberal judges have it right, while the conservative ones are being to strict. It's better for some people to get just punishments and a few to get overly harsh ones than for EVERYONE to get overly harsh ones.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 3:43 am 
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Cyberknight wrote:
The problem with that argument is that you assume inconsistency is a bad thing. Problem is, one could argue that the liberal judges have it right, while the conservative ones are being to strict. It's better for some people to get just punishments and a few to get overly harsh ones than for EVERYONE to get overly harsh ones.

Whether it's right or wrong is subjective to the moral standard of an individual. Right or wrong is feasibly irrelevant because everyone has a different opinion on what right or wrong is. Therefore, it would be best to have the majority opinions be represented through our representative form of government. (that's the whole idea of representative government) It isn't right for individual judges to take the law into their own hands when it violates the will of the representative government.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 5:17 am 
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Hammy wrote:
Whether it's right or wrong is subjective to the moral standard of an individual. Right or wrong is feasibly irrelevant because everyone has a different opinion on what right or wrong is. Therefore, it would be best to have the majority opinions be represented through our representative form of government. (that's the whole idea of representative government) It isn't right for individual judges to take the law into their own hands when it violates the will of the representative government.


Yeah you should really do LD based on that argument. :lol: ;)

Also you fail so hard on uniqueness.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 4:39 am 
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The Invisible Hand wrote:
Yeah you should really do LD based on that argument. :lol: ;)

Except I'd rather not spend a whole year talking about this one concept. ;)

The Invisible Hand wrote:
Also you fail so hard on uniqueness.

I can link it no problem. Aff case revokes MM. Judges are free to administer punishments however they see fit. Disparity like cuss words in a rap song.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 6:58 pm 
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Hammy wrote:

The Invisible Hand wrote:
Also you fail so hard on uniqueness.

I can link it no problem. Aff case revokes MM. Judges are free to administer punishments however they see fit. Disparity like cuss words in a rap song.


Literally everything a judge does is subjective. That is literally what the word judge means. Unless you want there to be set penalties for every crime I would say you lack uniqueness.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:40 am 
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Whether it's right or wrong is subjective to the moral standard of an individual. Right or wrong is feasibly irrelevant because everyone has a different opinion on what right or wrong is. Therefore, it would be best to have the majority opinions be represented through our representative form of government. (that's the whole idea of representative government) It isn't right for individual judges to take the law into their own hands when it violates the will of the representative government.

That really doesn't address my point. My point is that it's better for people to get unequal punishments for similar crimes, some just and some not just, than for people to all get the same unjust punishment. That's why having a more consistent system is not necessarily good; you can be consistently unjust. Does that make sense?

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