Write 150 words about the video below. I did a copy and pasted of the transcripts to read. Do not need title page. Need cite and reference to support answer. What was the video about? What did you think was interesting? What did you learn anything new from the video? Explain
Court, trials, and sentencing: Due process [Video file]. (2012). Retrieved April 27, 2017, from https://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=18566&xtid=48004
Transcript reading begins
If what you know about the American courtsystem comes from watching television, youprobably think it’s a speedy, efficient, and dramafilled process. Bad guys get booked. The trialseems to come immediately after. Lawyers yelland posture.
Lie, lie, lie.
The jury reads its verdict and we’re done. But inreality, it can be a slow, technical, and even boringprocess with several steps and many monthsbefore the final outcome is known. In the UnitedStates, courts decide cases through an adversarialsystem. Two parties, the prosecution and thedefense, offer their version of events and arguethe case before the court. The dispute is decidedin favor of the party who offers the most soundand compelling arguments based on the law.
While States differs somewhat in the exactprocedure, there are basic similarities throughoutthe country. This is the story of the Americancriminal court system. Fairness demands thateveryone who enters the system understands thenature of the proceedings. The US Constitutionprovides those accused of a crime with a numberof significant right. All these rights are aimed atprotecting individuals from unreasonablegovernment action and maintaining the fairnessof the criminal justice system. There are manyprocedures that must be followed.
After the investigation and arrest, it is the job ofthe court system to determine whether theaccused is guilty or not. This process begins with aseries of steps, often called pre-trial procedures.And the first step is for the prosecutor to decidewhether there is enough evidence to support aconviction. In other words, probable cause.
Whenever someone is accused of committing acrime that is going to be presented to a grand juryfor indictment, they’re entitled to a preliminaryhearing. And that is where a judicial officer makesthe determination whether or not there is indeedprobable cause for this case to move forward.
There are two ways to bring charges. In somestates, the prosecutor may present the case to agrand jury. In that process, a designated group ofcitizens decides whether, based on theprosecutor’s evidence, the case should proceed totrial. If the grand jury believes enough evidenceexists to support charges, the suspect will beindicted. An indictment is a formal documentcharging someone with a crime.
The typical trial jury, of course, is 12. Grand jury’sare usually a lot larger than that. And theirfunction is to find probable cause to hold theperson for trial.
If the prosecutor proceeds without a grand jury, adocument called a criminal complaint formallycharges the accused. Then a preliminary hearingmay be held to determine whether there isenough evidence to require a trial.
One of the primary roles that we have is publicsafety. And we have to make quick decisionswhether or not this person is a threat to thecommunity. And if the person has engaged incrimes of violence against a person, obviously,that threat level is there and the extent of thecrime could make that level high.
So when those situations happen, the lawprovides us with a tool of going out and arrestingthem or going to a judge and getting a criminalcomplaint and arresting them. And we put themin custody and they lose their freedom. Andbecause we don’t want them in societypotentially committing another violent act, orfleeing after they’ve committed a violent act.
Grand jury proceedings are closed and secret.Also, a judge is not present during grand jurydeliberations. The prosecuting attorney is thelegal adviser and examines all witnesses whotestify before it, including any defendant ordefense witness.
A preliminary hearing is open to the public andthe accused has the right to be represented by anattorney who can cross examine witnesses andpresent favorable evidence.
You can be arrested and get locked up veryquickly in that process. But as time goes on, youhave more of a thorough analysis about whetheror not that person is being treated. And the statewould have to put on evidence to show thatprobable cause exists that person’s reallycommitted the crime. And then that person canbe more formally charged later on.
If a grand jury finds probable cause, anindictment is confirmed and filed. If a judge findsprobable cause during the preliminary hearing, aformal charging instrument called a Bill ofInformation will be issued. And the prosecutionwill continue. So even though they are different,grand juries and preliminary hearings have thesame purpose– to decide if there is enoughevidence to formally charge someone with acrime.
During the time leading up to the trial, theaccused may have to stay in jail, or may begranted a pretrial release. This depends on thejurisdiction in which the person is indicted, theunique details of the case, and whether or not theaccused is likely to flee before the trial.
If the crime is very serious, usually we’re talkingabout homicides or even multiple homicides, bailmight be denied entirely. On the other end of thespectrum, people that don’t have a criminalrecord to speak of are generally released on theirown recognizance without the posting of bail.
If bail is set high, what happens generally is a bailbondsman will pay the bail and the defendant isrequired to post 10% of that bond. And what thebail bondsman does, of course, is assure that thedefendant appears at trial, because they’ll losetheir money if the defendant’s not there. So ifthey don’t show, they go after them.
Bail money is paid to the court in order to makesure the defendant will appear when told to do so.Bail may be paid in cash, credit, or property. TheEighth Amendment to the Constitution requiresthat bail not be excessive.
When you are looking at an individual and settingbond, you look at each case individually. There’snot a set of rules that you can necessarily employin every case. But you look at the individual, yousee the crime that they’re charged with. You lookat their age, their health, their criminal record,their standing in the community, whether or notthey’re likely to commit another crime if they domake the bond. You also look at their financialcondition.
Whether held in jail or allowed to post bail, thenext step for the defendant is the arrangement, orthe appearance before a judge to face formalcharges. Acceptable pleas vary amongjurisdictions, but they generally include guilty, notguilty, and nolo contendere, or no contest.
Prosecutors are limited by the facts. They canonly charge crimes that the evidence supports.And so they are to some extent limited to whatthe investigation has revealed. So they have tocharge based on what the police have found in the police report.
Now, that doesn’t mean they can’t find more thanone charge that comes out of one criminalepisode. And they often do. And the reason theydo that is they’re trying to get the defendant toplead guilty in exchange for dropping some of thecharges. But they’re constrained. They can’tcharge with anything. The evidence in theinvestigation has to support the charge.
A defendant’s right to counsel is constitutionaland guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. So ifthe defendant can’t afford an attorney, one will beappointed without charge.
There are differences in the laws regarding adultsand juveniles in criminal cases. Juveniles, exceptfor the most serious offenses, are entitled toproceedings in juvenile court, which is supposedto be more rehabilitative and less punitive. Somore focused towards treatment and counselingas opposed to long sentences in custody.
And as part of that, in many states, when policetake a juvenile, that is a person under the age of18, into custody for interrogation, there aresometimes additional safeguards. Some stateswill require, at least for very young children, that aparent be present or a lawyer be present. So thereare additional safeguards in most states and mostjurisdictions when juveniles are involved.
A trial in juvenile court is called an adjudicatoryhearing. During the hearing, the judge will listento testimony from all of the witnesses. The judgewill then review any additional evidence anddecide if the juvenile is not guilty, guilty, or guiltyof something less than the original charge.
Both juveniles and adults can plea bargain. Thatis an agreement where the prosecutor offers thedefendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usuallyto a lesser charge, or with a recommendation of alighter than the maximum sentence. A largemajority of cases are settled before trial with aplea bargain.
If a person enters into a plea agreement, and thatagreement puts a judge in a position where theycan fairly administer justice, it’s a good thing. Andit’s a good thing for a lot of reason. It’s a goodthing for, number one, it saves time in the courtsystem. Number two, it gives the defendant theability to admit their guilt.
If there is no plea bargain and the accusedmaintains his innocence, the case moves to aformal trial. There are many constitutional andstatutory rights that the accused is provided.Some include the right to a speedy and publictrial. The Sixth Amendment guarantees animpartial jury. It also gives the defendant the rightto know who the accusers are and what they arecharging.
Those are very important rights that a defendanthas. But just built in throughout the process is thedefendant’s right to confrontation. That means tocross examine or question any witness that thestate might present. And that, of course, issomething I’m not sure defendants understandwhen they come to trial either. I think what mostpeople have seen is what they’ve seen ontelevision. And that is not a totally realisticversion of how trials are going to go forward andwhat your actual rights are.
Pretrial motions, which are arguments concerningwhat is and is not admissible during a trial, aremade after the preliminary hearing but before thecase is taken to trial. They are presented to thecriminal court judge. Pretrial motions can bemade by both the prosecution and the defenseand are made in order to set limits on the trial.
For example, the defense or prosecution mayargue that a particular person should or shouldnot be allowed to testify during the trial. Pretrialmotions can also be made to dismiss the criminaltrial entirely.
There can be some real grounds for dismissal ofindictments or charges. They’re not that frequent,but there are defective indictments. They aremissing very important parts of the crime thatsomeone is charged with, or the location whereit’s charged, or the name of the alleged victim.
I consider the pre-trial to be a very critical stage ofthe proceedings, because I think that is when allof us come together and get an understandingbased on the motions that are presented as towhat is left or what is going to go forward and beheard by a jury. So I think that’s very importantthat there are pretrial motions brought forwardand determinations the judge, so that the lawyerscan advise their clients what the issues are reallygoing to be before the jury that they need toconcentrate on.
Some of the most difficult and complex pretrialmotions are those testing the admissibility ofwitness testimony.
Testimony can be dealing with the suppression ofevidence. The search of a car or if lawenforcement took property from you, seizedproperty that violated your rights of privacy. Andthose are search and seizure issues. If lawenforcement came into your house and seizedevidence, did they have a search warrant to dothat? If they didn’t have one, did they need one?Was there an exception to the requirement ofgetting search warrants?
While the pretrial phase may last days, weeks, oreven months, depending on the complexity of thecase, it is a critical first step in the criminal courtsystem, safeguarding everyone’s right to equalaccess and representation. And only then is thecase ready for trial.
A jury trial begins with the selection of membersof the community in which the accused is tried. Ajury is usually made up of 12 people who arecharged with deciding matters of fact anddelivering a verdict based on the evidence in acase. The process of selecting the jury is alsocalled voir dire, which means to tell the truth. Itrefers to the process by which prospective jurorsare questioned about their backgrounds andpotential biases before being chosen to sit on ajury.
Once both sides have approved the requirednumber of jurors, they are sworn and seated inthe jury box. The judge then explains the trialprocedure, the basic principles of law, and thejurors’ duties. In order to convict, the jury must beconvinced of a defendant’s guilt beyond areasonable doubt.
I’m a big fan of the jury system. I’ve always, in ageneral sense, felt that juries do the right thing.And they understand their obligations. And theyunderstand that the state has the burden to proveguilt. And when we don’t, we lose, usually. And weshould.
To you initiating the traffic stop on my client, myclient–
In the courtroom, the prosecution and defenseargue against each other in this adversarialprocess. The theory is that the truth will emerge ifeach party is given a chance to present the fullrange of evidence, facts, and arguments before aneutral judge.
It is my job to determine what the law is and to dothe best that I can to instruct the jury as to whatthe law is. And then they are to take the facts thatthey have determined from the evidence that hasbeen presented at the trial and apply those factsto the law that I had given them to reach theirverdict.
The judge and the lawyers play the lead roles inthe courtroom, but there are others who assist inthe administration of justice. The court clerkkeeps the schedule and makes sure that everyjudgment is properly recorded. The bailiff calls thecourt to session and maintains order. The courtreporter transcribes an exact record of theproceedings, certifying it as an accurate an officialrecord.
I could not do my job without a professional staffbehind me to take care of what they need to takecare of.
Once the jury is seated, the trial begins. First, theprosecutor and defense attorney outline themajor objectives of their cases in their openingstatements.
The purpose of an opening statement by both theprosecution and the defense is to educate the juryabout what you’re going to try to prove. If it’s ahomicide case, then the prosecutor’s going to betelling the jury that they intend to prove that thisdefendant committed either a first degree orsecond degree murder and why that’s so.
The defense, on the other hand, is going to tell thejury what their theory in the case is. Self defensemight be an example of that. And so it’s designedto educate the jury about what both the state andthe defense are going to do in the trial processitself.
After the opening statements, the prosecutorpresents the evidence accumulated by the stateagainst the accused. The prosecution callswitnesses in direct examination.
On direct examination, either the state or thedefense puts on their witnesses. And it’s their ownwitness they put on. So let’s just take theprosecution as an example. What they’re doing isputting on witnesses favorable to their side. Andthey’re asking them questions that will supporttheir theory of the case. For instance, that it’s apremeditated killing. And they are friendlywitnesses. The prosecution wouldn’t be usingthem as a witness unless they thought they weregoing to help their case. Same is true of thedefense.
Evidence is generally of two types– physicalevidence and the testimony of witnesses.
But he had reported his wallet and identificationas being stolen.
After each witness, the defense has the right tocross examination.
You’re trying to expose either the inconsistenciesor the inaccuracies or the lies in the witness’stestimony. And you’re allowed a lot more leewayon cross examination to lead the witness, becausethe witness is no longer friendly.
Regarding latent prints–
After completing the cross examination, theprosecutor may conduct a rebuttal, or redirectexamination, which serves to clarify or correctsome points made during the cross. After the statehas presented its evidence and witnesses, thedefense calls its own witnesses and the process isreversed. The case presented by the defenseusually falls into one of three categories. Thedefendant didn’t commit the crime, thedefendant committed the crime but was justified,or the defendant committed the crime but can’tbe held responsible.
Each case depends on the specific circumstancesof that case. So in some cases, the person on trialclaims, sometimes truthfully, sometimes not, justtotal innocence, that the wrong person wasarrested. In other instances there might be someevidence of guilt, but it’s not clear. It doesn’t riseto a standard of, in legal terms, proof beyond areasonable doubt.
And as you might imagine, in some cases, there issome evidence that supports several of those.And it’s often because witnesses arecontradictory. One witness will– sometimeswitnesses perceive things differently. Sometimeswitnesses are mistaken, sometimes they’redishonest. So that’s the trial process is to try to,with both sides vigorously representing theirsides, in hopes to get to the truth of the matter sothat there’ll be a just result in the end.
Witnesses can play a huge role in a criminal case.Sometimes when physical evidence is lacking,they provide the only information about thecrime. They fall into two categories– factwitnesses and expert witnesses.
Well, a fact witness is to testify to the historicalfacts in this case. What happened, what I saw,what I heard, what I think. And so they’re talkingabout the actual facts that the sides are going toprove. An expert, on the other hand, is nottestifying to historical fact. He’s trying to educatethe jury, or she’s trying to educate the jury onsomething the jury wouldn’t otherwiseunderstand. The best contemporary example ofthat is probably DNA evidence.
Anyone who has seen a courtroom drama on TV isfamiliar with an attorney crying–
Objection, your Honor.
An objection is made when an attorney believes aquestion asked by the opposing counsel is eitherimproper in the way it was asked or calls forevidence that is not admissible. It is up to thejudge to sustain or overrule the objection.
I do look at whatever rule’s being cited and I hearthe arguments. And then I make a ruling based onwhat I believe the law to be on that particularissue.
We have proven that the amount carried by Mr. Robbins—
Once the evidence phase of the trial ends, bothsides present their closing arguments. Theseallow the prosecutor and the defense attorneyanother chance to tell the story of their case. Thistime in its entirety.
The closing argument is designed to educate ortry to convince the jury that you’ve proven whatyou claimed you were going to prove in youropening statement. That you presented in theopening statement your theory of the case, youput the case on, and now, that I think I’ve proventhis and this is why.
My client is innocent–
The bottom line is that the closing argument issuccessful when it helps persuade the members ofthe jury to act in a way the prosecutor or defenseattorney wants them to.
Near the end of the trial, members of the jury aregiven specific instructions about the law and howthey are to make their decision.
At the conclusion of the trial, it is the judge’s dutyto instruct the jury as to the law that they are toapply to the facts that they’ve determined fromthe evidence. But before we get to that stage,both the state and the defense are to present tothe judge proposed instructions. And to arguethose to the judge as to what they believe is theappropriate law that should be told to the jury in that trial. And then ultimately, it is up to the judgeto decide what to say to the jury.
Following instructions, members of the jury beginto deliberate. They are move to a closed roomwhere they discuss the evidence in order to reacha verdict. In a criminal trial, the jury may returnwith a verdict of guilty or not guilty. And if the jurycomes back with a unanimous verdict of notguilty, the accused usually can’t be tried again forthe same crime.
If the jury comes back not guilty, the game is up.The game’s over. Double jeopardy bars re-prosecution except in very limited circumstances.Once the jury says not guilty, then that meansthat there can be no further prosecution on thatoffence, or any lesser included offense. The onlyexception to that is where the facts change afterthe verdict.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Constitutiondoesn’t require a verdict to be unanimous. Nordoes it require 12 person juries. Some states usesix person juries. Almost all require a unanimousverdict, but a few require only 11 to 1 or 10 to 2. Ifa verdict of the required majority can’t bereached, no matter how much the jurorsdeliberate, a hung jury is declared and the judgerules a mistrial.
Then the state will decide whether or not theywant to begin the prosecution at another time.And we would have to wait until that particularjury has been discharged and begin anew at alater date and time.
When the verdict has been announced, or amistrial has been declared, the trial phase is over.
If the jury returns a verdict of not guilty, thedefendant is released and is freed from thecriminal justice system. If the defendant has beenfound guilty of the crime, the punishment phasebegins, known as sentencing. A sentence doesn’trefer just to jail time, but refers to any kind ofpunishment. There are many reasons forimposing various punishments.
There are some people you look at and if youcould lock them up longer than you could, youwould. There are others who you look at and youthink maybe there’s something that we could dodifferently to help them change their lifestyle, buthave them under control at the same time. Wehave certain considerations for youthfuloffenders. Persons who are convicted of crimeswho are under 24 may be treated differently orplaced in a different facility than our generalcriminal population. So you actually look at somany factors when you sentence someone.
If the crime is a misdemeanor, the judge can passsentence from the bench. Otherwise, there is asentencing hearing. The purpose is to allowvarious interested parties to present evidence andarguments about what the appropriate sentenceshould be.
Judges want to know usually all they can aboutwho they’re dealing with. And why this personmay or may not have committed the crime andwhat could be the mitigating circumstances. I’vevisited prisons and jails before and I don’t neverunderestimate the feeling one gets when they’reincarcerated. So it’s a serious business.
Courts may also consider statements from thevictim or the family about the impact the crimehas had on their lives. The judge then determinesthe sentence.
In some places the statute sets a firm sentence, or it sets a range, which the judge can pick in thatrange. Let’s say that a sentence is 10 to 40. Thejudge could pick anything in between 10 to 40. Inthe federal system in some states, we have whatare called federal sentencing guidelines. Theycome from the federal sentencing guidelines butstates have adopted those as well. And whatthose are is a set of factors, guidelines really, thatthe judges apply to determine what sentence thedefendant deserves.
Sanctions that work best balance the need to beconsistent with sentences handed down in thepast with the need to tailor punishment andtreatment to the individual offender. The primarygoal is to punish the guilty and prevent futurecrimes. A criminal can do time in jail, pay a fine, orreceive other punishment.
If the crime is considered minor, the judge maysentence the criminal to probation, which meansbeing placed under court supervision. In thatcase, the criminal may not spend any time inprison so long as the conditions of the probationare maintained. Just like an adult, a juvenilemaybe jailed, imprisoned, placed in a treatmentprogram or on probation, or be required to pay afine. All depending on the seriousness of thecrime.
The system in the past has been what’s in the bestinterest of the child? Period. That’s the focus. Ascompared to adult prosecution, it’s just what’s in the best interest of the community? And that’show the traditional difference has been. It’s aboutturning the child around, solving the child’sproblems so they don’t grow to be an adultcriminal.
In most states, anyone charged with committing acriminal act before his or her 17th or 18thbirthday is initially processed as a juveniledefendant.
At both the state and federal levels, everyone hasthe right to appeal the verdict. If the decision isn’taccepted by both parties, one can ask the Court ofAppeals to hear the case again. , However thedefendant can’t re-argue the facts or submit newevidence. If a Court of Appeals finds that anyerrors occurred, it then decides whether theyprevented a fair trial. If it finds that an error wasprejudicial or harmful, it reverses the convictionand sends the case back for a new trial. Thecourts keep records of all proceedings and allconvictions. And while a juvenile’s record isusually sealed when he or she reaches 18, anadult’s record is usually permanent.
In the United States, the criminal courts systemserves as the venue where disputes are settledand justice is administered. From pretrialprocedures to the sentencing hearing, the rightsof the defendant must be balanced against therights of the victims and the community. Findingthe right balance is often difficult and subject tocriticism. But this process is one of the greateststrengths of the American criminal justice system.
A large part of what I do is to make certain that anaccused understands their constitutional rights.And it’s further my job to make sure that thoseconstitutional rights are guaranteed to themthroughout the process over which I preside.
I think it was Thomas Jefferson said he wouldrather see a hundred guilty people go free thanone innocent person go to jail. And they weretalking that way when they wrote theConstitution. And so in our country in our criminaljustice system we have rules that the governmenthas to follow to make sure that people are notabused and the innocents protected, while at thesame time making sure that we keep law andorder in our society and people are safe in theirhomes and property.
You’re going to be under arrest. Sir, I need you toput your hands on the car.
Although laws grow more complex, theunderlying principles of American criminal justicehave generally remained constant. The systemwas founded upon deterrence, punishment, andrehabilitation. And whether we are talking aboutpolice officers, prosecutors, judges, or juries, thecriminal justice system is greatly influenced by itsdual role to ensure the rights of individuals whileprotecting the good of society. And always withinthe framework of the United States Constitution.
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