February 26, 2015

Daily Journal publishes PLF op ed on Yates v. U.S.

By Mark Miller Senior Attorney

Earlier today, the San Francisco Daily Journal published Pacific Legal Foundation’s op-ed on the Yates v. United States decision handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States this week.  In the piece, we laud the Supreme Court’s important—and correct—decision.

The op-ed expands on the point PLF made in its amicus brief on behalf of Yates—the government should not use inapplicable criminal laws to coerce defendants into accepting plea bargains and waiving jury trials for crimes they did not commit, just to avoid the risk of a lengthy prison sentence. Chief Justice John Roberts echoed Pacific Legal Foundation’s amicus brief during the oral argument, as the op-ed explains:

In challenging the federal government’s lawyer, Roberts stated, “But the point is that you could, and the point is that once you can, every time you get somebody who is throwing fish overboard, you can go to him and say: Look, if we prosecute you you’re facing 20 years, so why don’t you plead to a year, or something like that. It’s an extraordinary leverage that the broadest interpretation of this statute would give federal prosecutors.”

In her dissent, Justice Kagan effectively picked up on that point when she emphasized that the U.S. Code has an overcriminalization and excessive punishment problem. She considers the Yates case emblematic of that problem.  Pacific Legal Foundation agrees.

Read the whole op-ed here.

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