The Brian Banks Case
At the Long Beach courthouse, Brian Banks pled no contest to the charges of rape and kidnapping instead of fighting a weak case against him. Banks told news reporters that he had accepted to take the plea bargains deal out of fear. The attorneys had informed him if he did not take it, he could have gotten an extremely long sentence or worse still, life in prison.Wanetta Gibson, Brian Banks’ classmate, falsely accused him in the summer of 2002 of pilling her to the staircase at their Polytechnic High School and raping her. Banks would be arrested and charged. A plea bargain was presented to him, which, if he did not accept, he faced a possible forty-one years in prison, to life sentence. He took the plea bargain that entailed five years imprisonment, probation for five years, and registration as a sex offender (Palta, 2012).
Her accuser Wanetta and Wanda Rhodes, her mother, went on and to take the Long Beach Unified School to court. They claimed that the Polytechnic high school was not safe learning environment. They won a $1,500,000 dollars settlement. Gibson met Banks in 2011 after contacting him on Facebook. She admitted to him that she had made-up the rape and kidnap story. Unknown to her, Banks secretly recorded her confession. She would refuse to accept to the prosecutors that she lied to avoid giving back the money that she and her family won in court. Either way, he was assisted by Gibson’s recorded admission and Innocence Project attorneys of Northern California. Brian Banks managed to have his conviction overturned by the Los Angeles County prosecutors on May 24, 2012 (Palta, 2012).
The Long Beach Unified Technical High school on April 12, 2013, announced a decision to litigate Wanetta for $2 million. This was in an attempt to recover the $1,500,000 she had received in the lawsuit against the school that succeeded the Bank’s Sentencing. The school district went on to win a $2,600,000 ruling against Wanneta Gibson on June 14, 2013. Thisincluded $750,000 settlement that was initially paid to her, interest, attorney’s fees, and $1 million settlement in punitive damages.
It is not uncommon to find innocent people pleading guilty when they are threatened with worse circumstances in the event that they do not take up plea bargains. In many cases, plea bargains are used when the prosecution want to bring closure to a case with minimal resources and where evidence is also had to corroborate. There was anextreme denial of justice in this instance. The prosecution and district attorney’s offices seem to be more concerned about job performance and security. The quicker more cases are cleared, the better for them. This does not put into consideration establishing the truth through thorough and structured investigation. As long as the accused pleads guilty, it is well. The court spent a lot of effort on getting a plea bargain and making clear their threats to the defendant. They focused on the consequences of not taking the plea bargainthan on investigation and ensuring justice is served (Sainvil, 2013).
Many arguments are usually fronted in favor of plea bargains. The case of time and cost is usually most significant and prominent. Those in favor of plea bargains conclude that the practice often saves courts considerable time and money. This was the primary motivation for the prosecution presenting a plea bargain to Brian Banks. The prominent element of duress and fear factor to make a decision on whether to proceed with the case or take a plea bargain. This contributes a big part of the direction that the case goes (Sainvil, 2013).
Most people have been known to make plea bargains just to bring closure to cases and move on. This was the case in Brian Banks incident. In an article on scpr.org about the vindication of Banks, he stated that he took the plea bargains out of fear. The prosecutors had informed him that incase he was found guilty through a full trial, he would face even life in prison. The lack of evidence for a case related to rape was very evident. Banks and Wannetaindeed went to the stairwell at the school and made out. When they came out of the stairs, Wanetta accused him of rape. This was the genesis of the case. In the rape kit that would be used as evidence in the case, there were no semen traces. There were no witnesses to backup Wanneta’s story. Banks’ attorney, however, insisted that he take up a plea. He argued that Bank’s size, race, and age would mean a guaranteed conviction of 40 or more years in jail. Banks insisted that he did not commit the alleged acts. Finally, he reluctantly took the plea after the fear got to him. Banks did not get justice, and he was sentenced to jail without sufficient evidence (Reilly, 2012).
The prosecutors had focused on bringing the case to closure, more than establishing the truth through investigation, before going ahead with the case. In the same article on scpr.com, the writer proves that the most common method cases are handled once people charged is through the use of plea bargains. Many pieces of researchsuggest that people pleading guilty is very common even when they are innocent, especially where plea bargains are used as a method to get accused people to accept.
Palta, R. (2012, May 24). Brian Banks exonerated: ‘I’m here, and I remain unbroken’ Retrieved May 31, 2015, from http://www.scpr.org/blogs/news/2012/05/24/6293/brian-banks-exonerated-banks-attorneys-emotional-o/
Reilly, R. (2012, May 31). Some NFL dreams never die. Retrieved May 31, 2015, from http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7986979/redemption-brian-banks
Sainvil, W. (2013, January 23). Plea Bargaining: Coercion or Choice? | Innocence Project of Florida. Retrieved May 31, 2015, from http://floridainnocence.org/content/?p=8304