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The Champion

June 2017 , Page 09 

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Inside NACDL: Imagining a World Without the Trial Penalty: NACDL’s Next Major Reform Initiative

By Norman L. Reimer

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This month’s column is based on the welcoming remarks Norman Reimer delivered at NACDL’s West Coast White Collar Conference on June 22, 2017, in Santa Monica, California. 

Imagine what it would be like to practice criminal defense in a system in which the following fundamental rules apply:

  • Clients could receive a sentence that is no more than 10 percent more severe following a conviction after trial than the most favorable plea offer made before trial.
  • Clients could not receive an enhancement for obstruction of justice for simply denying guilt in testimony, but rather there could be an obstruction enhancement only if there was an affirmative act to obstruct, such as bribing a witness to give false testimony.
  • A client could get credit for cooperation, not based on the government’s subjective determination of substantial assistance, but rather on the basis of good faith efforts to assist — as determined by the judge.
  • When law enforcement engages in a sting operation to invite a c
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