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The Courts “I know you’ve been sworn and I have read your complaints” Judge Wapner.

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Presentation on theme: "The Courts “I know you’ve been sworn and I have read your complaints” Judge Wapner."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Courts “I know you’ve been sworn and I have read your complaints” Judge Wapner

2 The Judicial (Courts) System PUROPOSE? 1. Formally charge 2. Pre-trial Detainment? 3. Determine guilt or innocence 4. Impose a sentence 5. Hear appeals

3 The Structure of the Courts State Courts Layers of Trial Courts (Superior and inferior) Appellate courts Supreme court Federal Courts Trial courts Federal Appeals courts “District courts” The Supreme Court

4 Who are the “players” in the judicial system? Prosecutor Defense Attorneys Judges

5 The Prosecutor Represents the state in criminal matters Federal = Attorney general and U.S. attorneys State = District or State attorney Prosecutorial Discretion (400# Gorilla) Whether or not to charge & specific charge Decision to drop case, or nolle prosequi May enter and end plea negotiations

6 The Defense Attorney Private Attorneys (Johnny Cochran) Sixth Amendment right to counsel Attorney list system Contracting with law firm Public defenders system (large, urban) Roughly ¾ of state inmates were represented by publicly funded attorneys

7 Role of the Defense Represent their client in a vigorous, adversarial manner Investigate incident, interview client/witnesses, represent client at all proceedings, negotiate plea with district attorney Conflict of interest? The Devil’s Advocate Low pay and conflict of interest = burnout

8 The Judge During Trial Rule on questions of procedure (how to question witnesses, rules of evidence) May determine guilt in a bench trial After trial or plea bargain Responsible for determining sentence

9 Is the process really “adversarial?” Sam Walker’s Wedding Cake Celebrated cases may approach ideal of an adversarial process Lower “layers” = administrative rather than adversarial Judge, defense, and prosecutor have a shared understanding of what a case is “worth”

10 The Courtroom Workgroup Term coined by Malcolm Feeley Judges, prosecutors and defense work together daily Minimize conflict and develop informal procedures for dealing with cases The “Going Rate” Seriousness of offense Prior record of defendant Relationship between victim and defendant

11 Plea Bargaining What is bargained? Charge Sentence Conservatives = loophole Liberals = perversion of the system Reality? Given the “going rate,” it is not so much a “bargain” as administrative process

12 Benefits of Plea Bargaining State Prosecutor assured of guilt verdict Save the court time and cash More time for “serious cases” Defendant Avoid pre-trial detention No uncertainty in sentence May get more lenient sentence

13 Pre-Trial Decisions Prosecutor must issue a criminal charge Formal document, lays out facts of case, circumstances of arrest, penal code Felony cases = bill of “indictment” or “information” Misdemeanors = criminal complaint

14 Pre-Trial Decisions Arraignment Judge makes sure defendant understands charge Makes sure defendant has counsel Defendant enters plea Guilty No Contest Not Guilty Decision regarding pre-trial detainment

15 Pretrial Detainment and Bail Purpose of Pretrial Detainment Original = risk of flight Preventative Detention = danger to society Case

16 The Trial Jury Selection Trial Process Opening statement Prosecutor Defense Closing argument Verdict Sentence

17 Purpose of Sentencing Rehabilitation Deterrence/Incapacitation Just Desert

18 Sentencing Structures Indeterminate Tied to rehabilitation Open ended Determinate Fixed

19 Sentencing Disparity When 2 people who commit similar crimes receive different sentences Causes? Plea bargaining Different type of case Different offenders (prior record) Sentencing judge (discretion)

20 Reducing Sentencing Disparity Sentencing guidelines Grid (priors and seriousness) Mandatory minimum sentences Three Strikes “Truth in Sentencing”

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