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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 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” Model 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 standardized 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 The Trial Jury Selection Trial Process Opening statement Prosecutor Defense Closing argument Verdict Sentence

16 Sentencing Structures Indeterminate Tied to rehabilitation More open ended Determinate Fixed

17 Sentencing Disparity When 2 people who commit similar crimes, and have the same prior record receive different sentences What stage do disparities enter? Jurisdictional Differences Plea bargaining (part of “going rate?”) Victim/Offender relationships Sentencing judge (biased, bad day…)

18 Racial Disparities RACE Incarceration Rates Black = 3,300/100,000 Hispanic = 1,200/100,000 White = 500/100,000 BUT, involvement in serious crime?

19 Racial Disparity in Sentencing II The “Liberation Hypothesis” More disparity in less serious cases More disparity when black offender and white victim Rape and Capital Murder Race as part of “offense seriousness” Crack cocaine versus powder

20 Other Disparities Class = Difficult to detect (most in system are relatively poor) Difference between white collar and street Differences in some “celebrated cases” are obvious Gender Juvenile Justice Adult System

21 Reducing Sentencing Disparity Sentencing guidelines Grid (priors and seriousness) But: Do not eliminate disparity Disparity may be “built in” Larger Issue: Who now has discretion?

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