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Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems




Countries struggling with overburdened criminal justice systems often decide to introduce U.S.-style plea bargaining as part of a larger process of criminal procedure reform. Plea bargaining, however, is not simply a technical change in process. Policymakers and rule of law assistance providers should consider the consequences of this new procedure beyond simple case processing. The introduction of plea bargaining requires legal professional to adapt to a new way of doing their jobs. It potentially changes how defendants and victims view the system. It also carries the potential to change how the general public views the legal system. This can be of particular concern in countries struggling to establish the rule of law.

Plea bargaining requires informal negotiation. This informal negotiation may look like another form of corruption in countries whose legal systems already suffer from endemic corruption and serious legitimacy problems. This Article will examine the potential consequences of this emergency trend on rule of law development in countries lacking a strong human rights tradition, focusing particularly on countries of the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia.

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University of Iowa College of Law

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