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Stephanos Bibas studies the powers and incentives that shape how prosecutors, defense counsel, defendants, and judges behave in the real world of guilty pleas. His 2004 paper, “Plea Bargaining Outside the Shadow of Trial” (Harvard Law Review), explored the agency costs, structural forces, and psychological biases that cause plea bargaining to deviate from expected trial outcomes. He also studies the divorce between criminal procedure’s focus on efficiency and criminal law’s interest in healing victims, defendants, and communities. His new book (The Machinery of Criminal Justice, Oxford 2012) explains how criminal justice should do more to encourage acceptance of responsibility, remorse, apology, and forgiveness.
As director of Penn’s Supreme Court Clinic, Bibas litigates a wide range of Supreme Court cases. He and his co-counsel won a landmark victory in Padilla v. Kentucky in 2010, persuading the Court to recognize the right of noncitizen defendants to accurate information about deportation before they plead guilty. His academic work played a central role in the Supreme Court’s landmark case of Blakely v. Washington.