Chapter 8-13 The courts
Terms in this set (194)
Who shapes and influences the judge's actions?
The actions of prosecutors and defense attorneys, among others. At the same time, the type of justice handed out varies from one judge to another.
Whether judges are as qualified as they should be
What 2 suggestions for improving the quality of the judiciary will be examined?
Merit selection and mechanisms for removing unfit judges. The role of judicial ethics will also be examined.
Position of the judge
The public holds the judge most responsible for ensuring that the system operates fairly and impartially
Benefits of being a judge
In discharging their duties, judges enjoy some distinct benefits of the office. Traditionally, they have been given a high level of prestige and respect. Federal judges enjoy life terms, as do judges in a handful of states.
Terms of office for state judges
from 6 to 10 years
Annual salaries of general jurisdiction trial judges
$104,170 to $180,802. The average is about $135,000
How are judges constrained by the actions of other members of the courtroom work group? (prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers)
They often accept bail recommendations offered by prosecutors, plea agreements negotiated by defense attorneys, and sentences recommended by the probation officer.
What's judge shopping?
Common practice in large courts. Through the strategic use of motions for continuances and motions for a change of judge, defense attorneys maneuver to have their clients cases heard by the judge they perceive as most favorable for their particular cases.
Three major of judicial selection?
Executive appointment, popular election, merit selection and explore the influence of both formal and informal selection practice.
In the early years of the Republic, judges were selected by executive appointment or elected by legislature. The U.S Constitution specifies that the president has the power to nominate judges with the advise and consent of the Senate
Election of judges
Today however, approximately 30 states use some sort of election mechanism, to select at least some of their judges.
Judicial elections have become nastier, noisier and costlier
(Barns 2007, Bonneau 2007 Scotland 1998)
Mudslinging and attack advertising have become common in some states
(Arbor and McKenzie 2011)
Interests groups backed by business or plain tiff lawyers are spending millions to back their candidates
( Goldberg, Holman and Sanchez 2002)
Thus today raises particularly at the State High court level are hard fought affairs
(Bonneau and Hall 2003; Peters 2008)
Moreover the U.S Supreme Court ruled that candidates for judicial offices are free to announce their views in key issues
(Republican Party vs White 2002)
What is one consequence? Incumbent judges
is that is incumbent judges are now being defeated for reelection at a higher rate than in the past( although at the trial level incumbent still often win)
Since the presidency of Jimmy Carter an increasing number of federal court vacancies have been filled with female judges, a pattern evidence during both Republican and Democratic administrations
(Goldman and Saronson 1994; Goldman and Slotnick 1999; Goldman and Slotnick, Gryski and Schiavoni 2007)
18 % of presidents's Clinton nominations to the deferral bench were women
( Spill and Bratton, 200)
Republican president George W Bush was also particularly vocal about his goal of diversity
( Solberg, 2005)
In general judges are men from the upper-middle class and their backgrounds reflect the attributes of that class
More often white and protestants and they are better educated than the average American. Another similarity among judges is that most were born in the community in which they serve
Who appoints trial court judges?
Are usually appointed by particular districts. The persons appointed were often born in that area and attended local or state colleges before going on to law school within the state
No gender differences among judges
( Miller & Maier, 2008)
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the 1st woman to serve on the U.S Supreme Court concludes
Overall, the findings presented here do very little to support the assertion that O' Connor's decision making is distinct by virtue or her gender( Davis 1993)
Male and Female federal district court judges do not differ in their decisions
( Stidham & Carp, 1997)
In 12 out of 13 areas of law( sex discrimination is the only exception) male and female judges do not differ in their decisions
(Boyd, Epstein & Matin 2010)
African-American judges are more likely to be found in states using appointment by either the governor or the legislature
They are less likely to be selected in states using elections
What happened in 1960?
California became the 1st state to adopt a modern and practical system for disciplining its judges
Judicial conduct commission is created as an arm of the state highest court
Made up of lawyers, judges, and prominent laypersons, investigates allegations of judicial misconduct and when appropriate, hears testimony.
Defendants and Victims
Payne v. Tennessee
Directs our attention to both defendants and their victims
over 70 % of all serious criminal offenses are committed by roughly 7 % of offenders
are significantly younger, mainly male, members of racial minorities, more likely to come from broken homes, less educated, more likely to be unemployed and less likely to be married.
Mostly underclass (Jencks & peterson 1910
possess few of the skills needed to compete successfully in a technological society. Drawn from the urban underclass. More higher poverty= higher amount of crime
African-American, Hispanics and Native-Americans are arrested, convicted and imprisoned at higher rates per capita than whites
African-American males time in state or federal prison
Hardships victims and witnesses face participating in criminal court process
Trial delays, which result in frequent travel and wasted time
Long waits in uncomfortable surroundings
Wages lost for time spent going to court
Fear of the defendant or retaliation from the defendant's associates
A sense that criminal justice personne; are indifferent to their plight
Testifying in court
Because few people are accustomed to testifying, lawyers must coach their witnesses ahead of time to answer only question ascend, to speak forcefully and NOT to become rattled by cross-examinantion
defense attorney tests witness memory, challenges their veracity and venue suggests that they were responsible for their own victimization
Lack of cooperation
More than half of all major crimes are never reported to the police, or not all the victims wish to prosecute
Giving the police incorrect address, failing to show up in court, offering testimony that is confused, garbled, or contradicted by other facts
When victims cooperate with prosecution, odds that a case will be prosecuted increase dramatically
(Dawson & Dinovitzer, 2001)
Uncooperative behavior ( reported by witnesses)
not all blamed on witness and victims!
court process can be equally at fault
41 % were never told that they should contact the prosecutor
62% were never notified of court appearances
43 % stated that the police , prosecutor and judge all failed to explain witness's rights and duties
Civil protection order
Legal sanctions against domestic violence are not limited to criminal law. Victims may request a CPO. However, civil prot. orders are not self-enforcing, may induce a false sense of security among women at risk from former intimate
Vicim had prior relationship with the defendant
Half of all violent crimes( rape, assault, robbery) are committed by relatives, friends, or acquaintances of the victim
Victim/Witness assistance programs
encourage cooperation in the conviction of criminals by reducing the inconvenience citizens face when appearing in court
Victim and Witness Protection Act 1982)
Enhance and protect the necessary role of crime victims and witness in the CJ process
Victim's Bill of Rights( 1982)
California was the 1st state to adopt
Payne v Tennessee 1991)
The 8th amendment creates no bar to the introduction of victim impact statements during sentencing
Simon & Schuster v. New York State Crime Victims Board (1991)
Declared unconstitutional New York's Son of Sam law which sought to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes
Victim Compensation programs
CJ system of the U.S is offender-oriented, focusing on the apprehension, prosecution,, and punishment of wrongdoers.
System has done little to help victims recover from financial and emotional problems they suffer
Court orders the defendant to pay the victim for the losses suffered. But a major shortcoming of restitution is that in many crimes, no offender is convicted, even if its convicted, many defendants have little or no ability to provide adequate compensation to victim. Once the restitution is ordered, the victim's likehoold of collecting is not good
Maximun amount that can be paid in damages
$1.000 to $50,000
eligibility requirements are strict
Most states require the that the victim assist in the prosecution of the offender, excluding domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assaults victims.
Family exclusion clause
Makes victims living in the same household as the offender ineligible
Victim impact statements (today every state permits it as a part of the sentencing process)
consist of written or oral information about how the crime impacted the victim and the victim's family. Emotion-filled statements usually offered in an attempt to sway the sentencing court to impose a severe sentence on the convicted offender
Constitutionality of Victim Impact Evidence
In the late 1980s the U.S Supreme Court decided 2 cases , Booth v Maryland( 1987) and South Carolina v Gathers(1989) in which the Court held that victim impact statements were unconstitutional in capital cases bc they can create an unacceptable risk that a jury may impose the death penalty in an arbitrary and capricious manner (short lived)
Payne v. Tennessee (1991)
the Court decided that the 8th amendment was not a per se bar (falsely accuses another of having a venereal disease or being a convicted felon) to victim impact evidence during sentencing, even in death penalties cases.
What are two official measures of crime in U.S?
Data is only based on crimes which are reported to the police
The most publicized and widely used measure of crime comes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program ( underreporting is a major witness of the UCR.
The UCR divides criminal offenses into which 2 categories?
Type I and Type II offenses
Type I offenses
There are 8 serious ones referred to as Index crimes. Crimes that produce headlines about rising crime rates
Type II offenses
Are less serious, but more numerous
National Incident Based Reporting System ( NIBRS) FBI began to gather more detailed info for crimes reported to the police in 1988
Is incident-based, rather than summary based. It tracks all of the same offenses covered in the traditional UCR type I and type II categories, plus a few others such as CRIMINAL TRESPASS and PASSING BAD CHECKS.
Data gathered about each incident ( UCR)
1-The location of the crime
2- Whether the crime was completed or attempted ( traditional UCR did not differentiate % attempts and completed crimes)
3- Type of weapons used (if any)
4- Type and value of property damaged or stolen
5- The personal characteristics of both the offender and the victim ( e.g.. age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, and socioeconomic status)
Its used in different ways, sometimes called formal or technical arrest) is defined as the taking of a person into custody for the commission of an offense as the preparation to prosecuting him or her for the offense.
Arrest, broader sense)
means any seizure of a person signiflicantly enough that it becomes the functional equivalent of a formal arrest in that the person seized will reasonably not feel free to terminate the encounter.
sometimes called a Gerstein hearing after the case)
The Fourth amendment requires a judicial determination of probable cause as a prerequisite to extended restraint of liberty following arrest thus, after a person has been arrested a law enforcement officer must take the arrested person before a magistrate for an initial appearance.
Other terms used for initial appearance
statuses in different jurisdictions require that this be done promptly using terms such as: IMMEDIATELY , WITHOUT UNNECESSARY DELAY, FORTHWITH, or other similar statutory language.
Gerstein v. Pugh 1975
as a general rule the supreme court expects an initial appearance to occur within 48 hours of a warrantless arrest inclusive on weekends.
Bail is a guarantee
in return from being released from jail the accused promises to return to court as needed. It eventually became implanted in the 8th amendment, which provided excessive bail shall not be required
Preventive Detention 1984
congress amended the bill reform act to make clear that when setting bail a judge may place in custody arrestees to preventative detention, effectively holding suspects without bail if the accused of committing a dangerous or violent crime and locking them up is deemed necessary for community safety
What does the bail reform act of 1984 allow?
It allows suspect to be held in jail without bail for up to 90 days pending trial if the judge finds clear and convincing evidence that
1. There is a serious risk that the person will escape
2. The person may obstruct justice or threaten, injure or intimidate a prospective witness or juror
3. the offense depends is one of violence or one punishable by life imprisonment or death.
the law also creates the a presumption against pre trial release for major drug dealers (Berg, 1985)
the supreme court upheld the bail reform act in US v. Salerno 1987, ruling that the congress enacted preventive detention not as a punishment for dangerous individuals but as a potential solution to the pressing social problem of crimes committed by persons on bail.
Failure to appear
Defendants who have gained pre-trial release do not always appear in court when required.
Skipping Bail has several consequences.
First, bail is forfeited. Second, a warrant is issued for the suspects arrest. This warrant termed a bench warrant or a capias. Authorizes the police take the persons into custody
Preliminary hearing -Also called preliminary examination
The magistrate must determine whether probable cause exists to believe that a felony was committed and the defendant committed it. In this context probable cause means A fair probability under the totality of the facts and the circumstances known that the person arrested committed the crime charged
Grand jury's make accusations'/ trial juries decide guilt or innocence
The grand jury emerged in English law in 1176
Indictment or information
In Hurtado V.California- 1884, the supreme court held the states have the option of either an indictment or information. Today, grand jury's in every U.S. state and district of Columbia can investigate criminal activity, in contrast, U.S. jurisdiction differ with regard to how grand jury indictments operate.
Two primary functions of grand jury
Shield and sword ( Zalman and Siegel)
Shield refers to the protections the grand jury offers, serving as a barrier between the state and its citizens and preventing the government from using the criminal process against its enemies
Sword refers to the investigatory powers of this body (Alpert and petersen 1985)
Indictment or true bill
if the grand jury believe grounds for holding the suspect for trial are present (They will return an indictment meaning that they find the charges to be true. In the other hand if they find the charges insufficient to justify trial, they return a no bill or no true bill.
in furtherance of their investigative powers, grand juries have the authorities to grant immunity from prosecution. The fifth amendment protects the person from self incrimination. In 1893 congress passed a statute that granted the transactional immunity.
in a change for a witness testimony, the prosecutor agrees not to prosecute the witness for any crimes admitted (practice often referred to as turning states evidence) the organized crime control act of 1970 added a new and more limited form of immunity
under use immunity the government may not use a witness grand jury testimony to prosecute that person, however if the state acquires evidence of crime independently of that testimony, the witness may be prosecuted.
Subponea Power : Investigative powers of the grand jury to gather evidence under the cops authority
The grand jury may issue a subponea requiring an individual to appear before the grand jury to testify and bring papers or other evidence for its consideration
contempt - punishment to failure to comply with a subponea
The contempt power can also be used as punishment. A prosecutor may call a witness knowing that he or she can refuse to testify,and then have the witness jailed. In this way a person can be imprissoned without a trial. This has happened mainly to newspaper reporters. In Branzburg v. Hayes 1972 the supreme court ruled that journalists must testify before a grand jury. Some journalist have gone through jail rather than reveal their confidential sources, because they believe that to do so will wear down the freedom of the press protected by the first amendment
National Association of criminal defense lawyers 2000
the leading advocate for federal grand jury reform. This organization advocate a citizens grand jury bill of rights which among other things will grant witnesses the right to counsel during testimony, required prosecutors to disclose evidence that might exonerate a target, and allow of investigations to testify ( LefCourt, 1988)
occurs in the trial court of general jurisdiction.
What happens during arraignment?
The defendant is formally accused of a crime either by an information or indictment) and is called upon to enter a plea.
how are initial appearance and arrangement similar?
the defendant must be informed with some specificity about the alleged criminal actions
felony defendants are not allowed to enter a plea (eithter innocent or guilty)in a lower court because that court lacks jurisdiction to take a plea and to sentence
The informal and formal exchange of information between prosecution and defense?
Examples of info that prosecutors often gather and defense attorneys want to know about before trial?
Laboratory reports, statements of witnesses, defendant's confessions, and police reports
in Brady v. Maryland- 1963, the U.S Supreme Court held that "the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.
The Brady rules applies only to exculpatory evidence that is material
Exculpatory evidence is material "only if there is a "reasonable probability" that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different.
Informal Prosecutorial Disclosure
discovery rules are vitally important to defense attorneys. In states that grant defense considerable discovery rights, the lawyer can go straight to the prosecutor's files and obtain the essentials of the state's case against the defendant. By learning the facts of the prosecutor's case, the defense attorney need not face the difficult task of trying to force his client to voluntarily disclose this information.
Juridisctions that grant limited discovery rights to the defense
Defense attorneys must be more resourceful in determining what actually happened. To that end, a variety of proceedings not directly designed for discovery purposes can be used. At the preliminary hearing, intended to test the sufficiency of the evidence for holding the defendant, the defense hears at least part of the story of some critical witnesses.
Automatic Discovery for certain types of evidence, without the necessity for motions and court orders. Who most disclose what to whom, varies significantly, causing controversy in the CJ system.
To what extent should the defense be required to disclose relevant materials in its possession to the prosecution?
After all the constitution limits reciprocal discovery in criminal case, unlike in civil proceedings, because criminal defendants enjoy the privilege against self-incrimination
Alibi defense means that the defendant claims the crime was committed while the defendant somewhere else, and thus could not have been the perpetrator.
The defense would have to disclose a list of witnesses to be called to support the alibi (federal rule of criminal procedure Williams v. Florida)
The exclusionary Rule
prohibits the prosecutor from using illegally obtained evidence during a trial.
The exclusionary rule is commonly associated with the search and seizure of physical evidence under the fourth amendment.
But the exclusionary rule is also applicable to interrogations and confessions that violate either the fifth amendment against self incrimination or the sixth amendment right to counsel.
Pre trail confrontations between witnesses and suspects ( show ups, photo arrays and lineups) that were either unreliable ( therefore violating due process) or that occurred in violation of the accused sixth amendment.
For example, if a police lineup is improperly conducted, the identification of the suspect may be excluded from evidence during trial pursuant to the exclusionary rule.
Traditionally, english common law routinely admitted all confessions, even those produced by torture.
That began to change in the mid 1700s when english courts started to examine the circumstances under which a confession was made.
In an attempt at greater precision, the supreme court under the leadership of chief justice earl warren adopted specific procedures for custodial police interrogations.
In the path breaking decision miranda v. arizona (1996) the court imposed what is widely known as the MIRANDA RIGHT warning.
Fifth Amendment (1791)
1791: No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.
Brown v. Mississippi
Use of physical coercion to obtain confessions violate the Due Process Clause of the 4th Amendmnet
New York v. Quarles
overriding considerations of public safety justified a police officers failure to provide miranda warnings before asking questions about an abandoned weapon.
Minnick v. Mississippi 1990
Unlike an invocation of the right to remain silent, once a suspect has invoked his or her right to counsel, interrogation must cease and police may not reinitiate interrogation without counsel present.
The fourth amendment provides
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,papers,and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue.
Searches incident to lawful arrest
Chimel v. California (1969)
Police may search someone who is lawfully arrested ''to remove any weapons that the latter might seek to use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape.
Motor Vehicle Searches
Carroll v. United States (1925)
California v. Acevedo (1991)
Florida v. Jimeno (1991)
The mobility of motor vehicles justifies warrantless searches of them if there is probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains contrabands
Harris v. United States (1968)
Washington v. Chrisman (1982)
When a law enforcement officer is legally in a place in which he sees contraband or other evidence that provides probable cause to believe criminal activity is afoot, the evidence may be seized without a warrant.
A defense attorney who believes that his or her client was identified in a defective police lineup, gave a confession because of improper police activity, or was subjected to an illegal search can file a motion to suppress the evidence.
During the hearing on these pretrial motions, the defense attorney usually bears the burden of proving that the search was illegal or that the confession was coerced.
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
both states and the federal government are required to use the exclusionary rule to sanction non compliance with the mandates of the fourth amendment.
Payton v. New York (1980)
Absent some exigent circumstances (an emergency) police may not make a warrantless entry into a suspects home to make an arrest
Illinois v. Gates( 1983)
Whether probable cause exists must be examined under the totality of the circumstances". Moreover, a trial's court's ruling that probable cause exists is to be given substantial deference on appeal.
Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz (1990)
Sobriety roadblocks do not violate the Fourth Amendment . They are a reasonable tool for combating the problem of driving under the influence and they pose only a minimal intrusion on motorists stopped briefly at checkpoints.
Knowles v. Iowa (1998)
Issuing a speeding ticket does not give police authority to search the car
Process through which a defendant pleads guilty to a criminal charge with the expectation of receiving some consideration from the state
Plea Bargaining is new
evidence shows that it became a common practice in state courts sometime after the Civil War
What led to the institutionalization of plea bargaining? in the first third of the 20th century)
In federal courts, the massive number of liquor cases stemming from Prohibition. ( Padgett,1990)
3 types of plea agreement?
in return for the defendant's plea of guilty, the prosecutor allows the defendant to plead guilty to a less serious charge than the one originally filed.
In return for the defendant's plea of guilty one or more counts in the indictment or information, the prosecutor dismisses the remaining charges. A defendant accused of 3 separate burglaries pleads guilty to one burglary count, and the 2 remaining criminal charges are dismissed.
A plea of guilty is entered in exchange he for a promise of leniency in sentencing. There may be a promise that the defendant will be placed on probation or that the prison term will be no more than a given figure( say5 years)
In some jurisdictions, sentence bargaining operates in conjunction with count bargaining and charge-reduction bargaining.
Plea on the nose
In a sentence bargain, the defendant typically pleads to the original charge
Costs and Risks of Trial
Possibility of trial greatly influences negotiations. Trials are a costly and time- consuming means of establishing guilt. To try a simple burglary case it takes from 1-4 days and require the presence of the judge, bailiff, clerk, defense attorney and court reporter.
What common interests in disposing cases and avoiding unnecessary trials all members of the courtroom have?
reasons may differ.
Judges & Prosecutors want high disposition rates in order to prevent case backlogs and to present a public impression that the process is running smoothly.
Public defenders prefer quick dispositions because they lack the personnel to handle the caseload.
Private defense attorneys depend on high case turnover to earn a living, because most of their clients can afford only a modest fee. All members HAVE more cases to try THAN time or resources to try them.
What does a plea bargain represent to the prosecutor?
the certainty of conviction without the risk of trial
in seeking a conviction through a guilty plea, the prosecutor is in a unique position to control the negotiating process.
To begin with, the prosecutor proceeds from a position of strength: In most cases, the state has sufficient evidence for conviction, if however, the case is weak, the prosecutor can avoid the embarrassment of losing a case at trial by either DISMISSING it altogether or offering a deal that the defendant cannot refuse.
Whats the primary benefit of a plea?
is the possibility of a lenient sentence
Factors limit a judge's ability to control or supervise plea bargaining
Given the division of power in the advisory system, judges are reluctant to intrude on prosecutorial discretion
Why cases go to trial?
Although most cases are disposed off by a guilty plea, an important 2 to 10% of defendants are tried . Cases go to trial when the parties cannot settle a case through negotiation
Factors that shape plea bargaining?
The strength of the prosecutors case and the severity of the penalty are the same ones that enter into decision to go to trial
Jury Trial penalty
Although most defendants plea guilty, a significant minority of cases go to trial. It is a common assumption in court houses around the nation that defendants who do not enter a plea of guilty can expect to receive harsher sentences
Jury Trial penalty- "He takes some of my time, I take some of his"
Notion reflects the philosophy. Here time refers to the hours spent hearing evidence presented to the jury
Questioning the defendant
Most defendants plea guilty to 1 or more charges listed in the charging document. before a defedandt's plea of guilty can be accepted the judge must question the defendant.
Boykin v. Alabama
The Supreme court ruled it was error for the trial judge to accept petitioners guilty plea without an affirmative showing that it was intelligent and voluntary in 1969
In light of Boykin rule 11 of the Federal Rule of criminal Procedure and similar state provisions bars courts from accepting a plea of guilty in felony proceedings unless the court is satisfied after inquiry that
1. The plea is made knowing intelligently or voluntarily
2. The defendant committed the crime charged
3. The defendant is mentally competent to enter the plea and thereby pass on important constitutional rights
to ensure that defendants have been informed of all the rights they are waiving.
no contest plea
plea referred as to nolo contendere which is not an express admission of guilt by a defendant
This plea allows the defendant to plead guilty while claiming innocence. The name from this plea stems from the case of north Carolina v Alford (1970)
Acceptance and Withdrawal of pleas
Even in cases in which a defendant enters a traditional plea of guilt, judges still have the discretion to reject a plea agreement if they find it does not serve the interests of justice.
Who benefits from plea bargaining
supporters of the values of the due process model are concerned that plea bargaining undercuts the protections afforded individuals, may lead to the conviction of innocent defendants, and produces few tangible benefits for defendants.
If advocates of due process are worried that plea bargaining jeopardizes the rights of the individuals, the backers of the crime control model express the opposite concern.
The concept of the jury functioning as an impartial fact-finding body was first formalized in the magna carta of 1215 when english noblemen forced the king to recognize limits on the power of the crown
"No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be dis-seized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled or otherwise destroyed, nor will we pass upon him nor condemn him but by lawful judgment of his peers or by Law of the Land"
this protection applied only to nobility ("freeman"). Its extension to the average citizen occurred several centuries later. Thus, in the centuries after the Magna Carta, the legal status of the jury continued to evolve. Early English juries often functioned more like modern-day grand juries. Only later did they become impartial bodies, selected from citizens who knew nothing of the alleged event.
Duncan v. Louisiana (1968)
when the Supreme Court decided Duncan v. Lousiana (1968), ruling that the jury provisions of the sixth amendment were incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to apply to state courts, as well
Takes place when there is no right to a jury trial(ex. most traffic and petty offense cases). A judge serves as both; the trier-of-law (as always) and trier-of-fact determining guilt. But bench trials are not limited to cases in which no right to a trial by jury exists. Sometimes, the parties waive the right to a trial by jury and opt for a bench trial instead.
What is the three jury selection stages?
Compiling a master list, summoning the venire, and conducting void dire
Master Jury List
Voter registration lists are the most frequently for assembling this list (sometimes called a jury wheel or master jury wheel) They are rapidly available, frequently updated, in districts within judicial boundaries. However basing the master jury list on voter registration tends to exclude the poor, the young,racial minorities and the less educated
Summoning the venire
Periodically, the clerk of court or jury commissioner determines how many jurors are needed for a given time.
a court order commanding these citizens to appear at the court house for juror duty.
voir dire (speak the truth)
Involves the preliminary examination of a prospective juror in order to determine his or her qualifications to serve as a juror.
Challenges for cause
both sides have an unlimited number for this.
second method used by the prosecution and the defense in influencing who will sit on the jury.
attorneys use void dire for purposes other than eliminating bias. They use the questioning of jurors to establish credibility and rapport with the pane, to educate and sell prospective jurors on their respective theories of the case, or to either highlight or neutralize potential problem areas in the case (voss 2005) This in turn gives lawyers the opportunity to influence jurors attitudes and their votes.
Objective To The admission of evidence
attorneys must always be alert ready to make timely objections to the admission evidence. After a question is asked but before witness answers, the attorney may object if the evidence is irrelevant or hearsay. The court then rules the objection, admitting or barring the evidence.
the judge may rule immediately or may request the lawyers to argue the legal point out of the hearing of the jury
Occasionally, inadmissible evidence will inadvertently be heard by the jury. For example, in answering a valid question, a witness may overelaborate.
When this occurs and the attorney objects, the judge will instruct the jury to disregard the evidence. If the erroneous evidence is deemed so prejudicial that a warning to disregard is not sufficient, the judge may declare a mistrial.
Once the jury has been selected and sworn, the trial begins with opening statements by both sides, outlining what they believe the evidence in the case will prove.
After opening statements, the prosecutor presents the states case-in-chief, calling witnesses and introducing other forms of evidence to bolster the prosecutions allegation that the defendant is guilty.
The prosecutor conducts a direct examination by asking open ended, nonleading questions to prosecution witnesses, focusing on questions that get at who, what, when, where how and why.
A fundamental tenet of the adversary system is the need to test evidence for truthfulness and the primary means of testing the truthfulness of witnesses is cross examination.
Cross examination: thus the defense has the right to cross examine any witnesses for the prosecution. Because such witnesses are presumed to be hostile to the defense, close-ended or leading questions are permissible.
Law on the books vs. Law in action
Law on the books vs. Law in action
law on the books
lawyers discuss what the evidence will show
law in action
lawyers use to lead the jury to a favorable verdict
The main evidence offered to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
defense suggests that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof
a person who makes a statement under oath about the events in question.
through cross-examination, the defense undermines the credibility of the witness
a person who possesses special knowledge or experience who is allowed to testify not only about facts but also about the options he or she has drawn from a review of the facts
some expert witnesses testify only for one side or the other. some types of forensic evidence in criminal cases may not be reliable enough to pass the dauber test.
motion for judgement of acquittal:
defense argues that no reasonable jury could convict the defendant based on the evidence presented by the prosecution
judges almost never grant this motion largely because prosecutors rarely fail to present insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.
evidence that defense may present. because the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, the defense is not required to present evidence
the defense may rest without calling witnesses, but jurors expect to hear reasons why they should not convict
defendant as witness
the defendant may waive his or her privilege against self-incrimination and testify
defense attorneys are reluctant to call the defendant to the stand, particularly if there is a prior conviction
evidence that refutes or contradicts evidence given by the opposing party
the prosecutor will call witnesses to undermine a defendants alibi
Renewed motion for judgement of acquittal
defense argues that in light of the evidence presented by both sides, no jury could reasonably convict the defendant.
trial judges almost never grant this motion
after all the evidence has been presented, each side sums up the evidence and attempts to convince the jury why they should win.
many trial attorneys believe that a good closing argument will win the case.
explanations by the judge informing the jury of the law applicable to the case
legal language difficult for average citizens to follow
jurors deliberate in private, jurors select a foreperson and discuss the case, jurors take an oath to follow the law as instructed by the judge
some juries introduce popular law into decision-making process, on rare occasions a juror might refuse to follow the law in a particular case.
decision that the defendant is either guilty or not guilty
juries convict three out of four times. Jury verdicts often reflect a compromise
jury is unable to reach a verdict
defense attorneys consider a hung jury an important victory
motions filed by the defense after conviction and before sentencing
judge must accept a verdict of not guilty
renewed motion for judgement of acquittal
defense argues that the jury could not have reasonably convicted the defendant based on the evidence presented
trial judges are very reluctant to second-guess jury verdicts and almost never grant this motion
Motion for a new trial
defense argues that the trial judge made mistakes and therefore a new trial should be held
on very rare occasions, trial judges admit that an error occurred and set aside a jury verdict of guilty
allow each side to sum up the facts in its favor and indicate why believes a verdict of guilty or not guilty is in order.
begin with discussions of general legal principles (innocent until proven guilty,guilty beneath a reasonable doubt and so forth) they follow with specific instructions on the elements of the crime in the case and what specific actions the government must prove before there is a conviction.
once the jury informs the judge that a decision has been reached, the lawyers and the defendant gather in the courtroom.
How often do juries convict?
chances of winning a trial is 50-50 but the real odds against acquittal are significantly higher. in federal courts, juries convict 82% of the time.
the right of juries to nullify or refuse to apply law in criminal cases despite facts that leave no reasonable doubt that the law was violated .
some advocates of jury nullification based on a perceived need to reduce government intrusion into citizens lives
the provisions of the U.S. constitution often come into conflict in high profile criminal cases.
prejudicial pretrial publicity
the medias ability to taint the venire so that potential jurors are incapable of rendering a fair and impartial verdict based on the evidence presented in court.
Two cases in the 1960s caused the U.S. supreme court to overturn convictions based on prejudicial pretrial publicity having interfered with the defendants right to a fair trial Irvin v. dowd 1961, shepherd v. maxwell 1966)
Dr. Sam Sheppard stood accused of bludgeoning his wife to death in her bedroom. Shepard sent 10 years in prison until the supreme court ruled he couldn't get a fair trial. He was retried a second time and was acquitted and was later chronicled in the movie THE FUGITIVE
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