And so Brittany begins running, ill-advisedly, in her beat-up Chuck Taylors, which she soon upgrades to spotless, turquoise New Balances. Catherine, for some reason forgiving of Brittany’s persistent churlishness, introduces the young woman to a local running club. What follows is surely intended to inspire laughs of recognition in audience members who picked up running in adulthood, as the neophyte Brittany hangs out at the back of the group with a fellow reformed slacker, Seth (Micah Stock). The new trio sets themselves an ambitious goal: to complete the New York Marathon the following November.
While Banks’ story seems rare, Brooks explained that it’s increasingly common for those who have been accused to opt for lackluster plea deals in lieu of a risky trial.
“It happens every day. It happens every single day, because when you’re a defense attorney and you’re advising your client, it’s not really about whether they’re innocent or guilty, it’s about what you’re up against, and what your chances of success are gonna be,” he explained. “And in the old days, when I first started practicing [law] 30 years ago, the sentences weren’t so great [and] you could go to trial and not be running the risk of dying in prison, but now, with almost every case, you’re looking at life.”
“The criminal justice system has become a giant casino where it’s, take door number one or door number two,” he continued. “Door number one, you might be able to get home to your family. Door number two, you die in prison and that’s what Brian’s choice was – you take this deal, I may be able to get you probation. You take this deal, you die in prison. So, innocence gets lost in all that, because it’s really about, what is the evidence here and what are your chances of success and what are the risks on the other side of that?”
The likelihood of an accused party opting for a trial has steadily declined over the last 50 years, according to a report published last year by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and cited by the Innocence Project. When looking at state and federal criminal cases in recent years, researchers found that accused parties chose a plea deal more than 97 percent of the time and only opted for a trial on less than three percent of occasions.