A federal jury in Boston recently convicted Gamal Abdelaziz and John Wilson of conspiracy to admit their children to the University of Southern California. The story is more newsworthy than what has been said about the corruption in our criminal justice system regarding corruption in the college admission process.
Surprisingly, people are being punished for exercising the “right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury” and the right to “face witnesses against it” guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.
The Associated Press reports: “Thirty-three parents, including TV actor Felicity Hoffman and Laurie Laughlin and Laghlin’s fashion designer husband Mosimo Giannulli, have pleaded guilty. The parents have so far been sentenced to nine months in prison.”
Abdelaziz and Wilson were the first guardians to go to trial. What kind of punishment do they face? A press release from the Department of Justice explains:
“Mail and Cable Fraud and Honest Service Mail and Cable Fraud Conspiracy Maximum 20-Year Imprisonment, Three-Year Custody Release and 250 250,000 Penalty or Double the Total Profit or Loss Waiver, and বি 250,000 fine or double the total profit or loss, whichever is greater.Country fraud allegations and honest service wire fraud are punishable by 20 years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and $ 250,000 fine or double the total profit or loss, whichever is greater. 10 years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a লার 250,000 fine or double the total profit or loss, whichever is higher. In prison, one year of supervised release and a 100,000 fine. “
Even longtime federal judges have questioned prosecutors’ tendency to file “conspiracy” charges over underlying allegations. It allows prosecutors, basically, to charge defendants twice for the same crime – once to “conspire” to plan a crime, once to do it. At a pre-hearing in an unrelated case earlier this year, longtime federal judge Edward Corman of Brooklyn described it as “a common form of charging for unnecessarily complicated”.
Allegations of conspiracy are part of a broad imbalance between those who plead guilty and those who exercise their Sixth Amendment right to justice. Convict and “sentenced to nine months in prison from trial.” Insist on a trial and spend decades in jail.
New York Times “They face up to 20 years in prison on the most serious charges, but experts say they will receive much less under the penal code, probably less than three years for Mr Abdulaziz and five years for Mr Wilson,” the report said. Years, much more than “nine months in prison from probation.” The difference is that the proponents of criminal justice reform call it “the punishment of justice” – the additional imprisonment that people face only for exercising the rights they have under the Sixth Amendment, which is constitutionally guaranteed.
Please bargaining saves the government time, money and the hassle of proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt indeed. The ratio seen so far in college admissions – two convictions after one trial – shows how lean the system is. In practice, in the case of modern American criminal justice, despite the constitutional guarantee, a trial is rather unusual than routine.
A 2018 report by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers found that less than one percent of federal criminal cases resulted in trials. “There is ample evidence that federal criminal defendants are being forced to plead guilty because the penalty for exercising their constitutional rights is too high for the risk. The punishment that will be imposed after the trial, ”the report said. A proposal by former federal judge John Gleason said, “It is a constitutional right of the government to give its evidence, enshrined in the Sixth Amendment; no one has to gamble freely for years and decades to use it.”
Advocacy groups have come together in recent years to defend the rights of the First Amendment and the Second Amendment against legal attacks. The Sixth Amendment also requires champions, before the right to justice is further violated. Our constitutional independence may be more important than who enters the USC.