Oki’s characterization of the Rampart scandal, and the court’s institutional role in allowing innocent defendants to plead guilty to avoid harsher sentences, is by no means universal. But it is typical. “I don’t know that it is fair to characterize Rampart as a huge, widespread, systemic scandal, other than the actions of a few rogue cops, improperly supervised,” Oki said.
As tough as many of the recommendations in the report were to make, and as tough as they will likely be to put in place, some observers said they did not go far enough. USC law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who made some similar recommendations in a report for the Police Protective League two years ago, said too little was said about the pressures that move the innocent to plead guilty.
“I wish there was more analysis,” he said, “of why the system failed.”
Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said she was unhappy that the task force decided not to require courts to find a factual basis for a defendant’s guilty plea. “It seems the focus of the judges is to process these cases as fast and as efficiently as possible,” Levenson said. “That’s not right. Judges are the last line of defense of the criminal-justice system. When they see something wrong, they should scream from the mountaintop.”