This website has two goals. First, it's a tool to help you craft trial bargains. Second, it's a place to collect more information about trial bargaining. I hope you'll share your trial bargaining experiences, good and bad. I can be contacted at gregory.gilchrist [at] utoledo.edu.
The forms are just a starting point for bargaining. There is no clear limit to what the defense might bargain with in exchange for leniency. Feel free to use these directly, or as a starting point to craft your own bargains. I plan to add more forms in the future.
Trial bargaining in federal court will likely involve three steps:
- Counsel will negotiate the terms of agreement
- The agreement will be memorialized (as in the forms)
- The prosecution will move to schedule a Pre-Trial Conference, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17.1, at which the trial court will review the trial agreement and accept or reject its terms
Trial bargaining is relatively new. There are precedents for its use, but there has not really been a widespread effort by counsel to secure limited leniency while preserving some sort of trial right. Whether it will work, and to what degree, remains to be seen. But, if nothing else, it represents an opportunity to generate more options for your clients. And that can't be bad.
Of course, as is true of any new venture, we'll get better at trial bargaining with time. If you have suggestions for improvements (to the forms, this site, or anything else), please let me know. And certainly, if you find success securing trial bargains for your clients, I hope you'll share that as well!
Note: The forms on this site are based on plea agreements available on the public record from the District of Maryland. For more on the forms, see Bargaining for More Trials in The Champion (forthcoming 2016).