I’m driving north of Monticello, Utah. Get pulled over. I’m told what the radar says. The patrolman puts down a reduced speed on the citation, and offers me a convenient weblink for paying the fine. Very nice. But I send in a “not guilty” plea letter. Now, not so nice. I have to travel the 250 mile trip to Monticello ... twice. Once for the trial, and once for a “pretrial” appearance. The speed the officer put on the citation? Forget it. Now it’s about what the radar device says.

Get it? Waive your due process rights, life is easy. Exercise your rights, life gets harder.

According to Pew Research, of all federal charges pressed in 2018, “The overwhelming majority (90%) pleaded guilty.” Only 2% of those charged exercised their right to due process. Why is that?

Lori Loughlin, the actress, was given a choice: Plead guilty and spend 2 months in jail, or go to trial and face serving a possible 20 years. Is that justice? Either she deserves 20 years, and she got away with it, or she was blackmailed into accepting jail time to avoid financial ruin and many years in prison. And if you’re poor? You can miss work, mortgage your house, spend months or years in the criminal justice system, or you can cop a plea.  

Government exists to defend the rights of its citizens. Unfortunately, instead of affording due process, the government from Monticello, Utah, to Washington, D.C., is intentionally making due process unaffordable to all.

Travis Thoms

Bosque Farms, New Mexico