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By G. Jack King
NACDL News columns.
Have charging and plea bargaining policies in the federal system gotten tougher under Attorney General John Ashcroft?
Not much, it seems, according to a recent national sampling by NACDL of United States attorney’s offices.
Ashcroft, on September 22, sent a memorandum to all U. S. attorneys,
purporting to state strict new Justice Department policies on charging
and plea bargaining. Early predictions that the new DOJ policies would
clog the federal courts have not yet materialized. One reason may be
that it is still business as usual in the courthouse — U.S. attorney’s
offices polled by NACDL indicate that most offices consider their
procedures already in compliance with the memo. Several refused to
discuss it on the record but none gave any indication that the policies
were causing any widespread overhaul of federal prosecution procedures
in their districts.
“It has not affected us at all,” said Channing Phillips, longtime
spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s offi
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