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Presentation on theme: "THE COURTROOM WORK GROUP"— Presentation transcript:


2 Introduction Courts are comprised of many individuals and groups
These groups have highly interdependent roles

3 The Work Group Core Consists of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys Regular and ongoing relationships Variety of interaction times and places Different roles allow for efficient case processing

4 Judges Issue arrest and search warrants
Make probable cause determinations Grant or deny bail Preside over initial appearances and hearings Rule on pretrial motions Preside over trial

5 Prosecuting Attorneys
Legal advisors to law enforcement Represent the State in criminal cases Participate in jury selection Give opening and closing arguments Call State witnesses and cross-examine defense witnesses

6 Defense Attorneys May be privately retained or appointed
Ensure that the defendant’s rights are protected Defend their client throughout the criminal proceedings

7 Other Work Group Actors
Law Clerks Court Clerks and Administrators Jurors Witnesses Police Officers News Media

8 Characteristics of the Work Group
Exhibit authority relationships Display influence relationships Held together by common goals Have specialized roles Use a variety of work techniques Engage in a variety of tasks Have different degrees of stability and familiarity

9 Courtroom Work Group Core Members Regular Members
Judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys Frequent participation in courtroom processes Common demographic characteristics Professional backgrounds Common perspective on court operations Regular Members Law enforcement, expert witnesses, news media Frequent, but not daily courtroom participation Occasional Participants Jurors, crime victims, litigants Infrequent courtroom participation Diverse training, values, and orientations

10 Authority Relationships
Judges are the rulers of the courts Reflected in the judge’s attire, courtroom design, and the way they are addressed Limits on a judge’s authority Attorneys’ discretion Budgetary control Jurisdiction Sentencing guidelines Appeals

11 Influence Relationships
All work group members influence and are influenced by other members Different bases of power and areas of knowledge Judges have formal authority and direct the actions of the court Prosecutors have superior case knowledge and discretion about what goes to trial Defense attorneys may interview witnesses, obtain evidence through discovery, and file pretrial motions

12 Common Goals Doing Justice Maintaining Group Cohesion
Disposing of the Case Load Reducing Uncertainty

13 Specialized Roles Judges Prosecuting Attorneys Defense Attorneys
Respond to motions throughout trial Demonstrate impartiality Prosecuting Attorneys Represent the State and its interests Must not obstruct the efforts of the defense, but there is no obligation to aid the defense Defense Attorneys Represent the defendant’s interests to the greatest degree possible

14 Work Techniques Knowledge gives group members different types of power and influence Interaction techniques Unilateral decisions Adversarial proceedings Negotiations

15 Work Group Tasks Initial Appearance Preliminary Hearing
Grand Jury Indictment or Criminal Information Arraignment Pretrial Motions Trial Procedures

16 Stability and Familiarity
Stability creates close and long-term relationships Small groups lead to closer interactions Results of greater familiarity Better negotiations Less reliance on formalities More utilization of informal arrangements Creates the foundation for cooperative relationships

17 Group Interactions Judges Prosecutors Defense Attorneys
Develop relationships with attorneys Exert influence over cases and plea bargaining Prosecutors Operate from a position of power Dynamic tension with judges and defense attorneys Defense Attorneys Must “sell” a deal to their client May stall the case progress

18 Disruptions to Group Goals
Outside factors may alter group dynamics and interactions Changes in sentencing laws California’s “Three Strikes Law” Changed the relationships of courtroom work group members Disrupted work efficiency Made case prediction difficult


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