The judge makes a compelling case about needing more trials:
Plea bargains have become so widespread in part because of a perception that they place a lighter load on an overburdened criminal justice system.Even though the system desperately needs more trials, it strikes me as wrong and dangerous to reject plea deals on an individual basis to accomplish this goal. Rejecting plea deals on an individual basis will unfairly harm particular defendants, especially if that defendant will get a higher sentence should he lose the trial.
But Goodwin argues that this perception is outdated. The judge draws on federal data sources to illustrate that federal criminal trials have fallen precipitously even as the number of U.S. attorneys has grown dramatically.
“In [fiscal year] 1973,” he writes, “each federal prosecutor handled over eight criminal trials on average. By [fiscal year] 2016, the average number of criminal trials handled by each federal prosecutor plummeted to 0.29 trials.”
So, I think there are lots of ways judges can accomplish more trials. For example, give more variances after trial. Explain to defendants that there will not be a trial tax for going to trial. Hold prosecutors' feet to the fire for discovery and other violations so that they don't think that they can get away with everything. Enforce violations by excluding evidence. Appellate courts need to have a more limited view of harmless error in the few cases that do go to trial. There's a lot more to be said here.
Yes, more trials, but not this way.