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POLS 210 Notes for Week 7

by: Suzanna Fleming

POLS 210 Notes for Week 7 POLS 210

Suzanna Fleming
GPA 3.88

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Notes from PowerPoint, lecture, and important documentary on plea-bargaining.
Law and Courts
Professor Brough
Class Notes
LawandCourts, politicalscience
25 ?




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Suzanna Fleming on Friday October 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 210 at Northern Illinois University taught by Professor Brough in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Law and Courts in Political Science at Northern Illinois University.


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Date Created: 10/07/16
10/04/2016 Judges Who are they and what do they do?  Trial court judges > First, it is useful to note that trial judges and appellate judges have very different jobs  and duties » Trial courts generally exercise original jurisdiction (first place where case  is heard) within state  » Pre­trial matters, motions (whether evidence should be excluded or  introduced [admissibility of evidence­whether it was obtained illegally];  change of venue in case of dissatisfaction; whether or not the trial should  go through at all, etc.)  » Must oversee trials (witness testimony, evidence, facts of case determined, etc.) » Jury instructions­what facts are important and how to apply the laws to the facts.   National ABA: judge will state issues in the case and define words  not familiar to the jurors, standards jurors should apply, reading  sections of applicable law to the jury, soul judge of the facts and  credibility of witnesses, what facts are in dispute and what does not matter, adherence to laws in making decisions, etc.   Jury nullification » Familiar with local attorneys possibly defendants  Appellate court judges > Appellate judges are usually paid more than trail judges > Appellate judges do not conduct trials—they review cases from lower courts » Appeals on issues of law » Was law applied correctly?  Error­irrevocable?  Minor­harmless, and not constitute basis for reversing decision.  Let it stand.   Major­reversing decision » Briefs and hearings  What does it take to become a judge? > Actually, there are very few requirements > “The U.S. Constitution establishes no requirements at all for federal judges” (Baum) > States do have some requirements, but they vary » 22 years of age » Pass the bar exam » Resident   Who are judges? > Although the bench is much more diverse than it once was, judges do share many  characteristics > Demographics—most come from families of higher socio­economic status o Mostly white males, but increasing female judges since 1970 > Most have political experience > Do backgrounds matter (and should they)?  Impact of judges’ backgrounds on judging > Individual backgrounds almost certainly shape their “attitudes toward political and social  issues” > Research on race and gender: » There are some areas where differences might exist ~ Female judges may view sex discrimination differently from male judges Ex: Sandra Day O’Connor—often voted with other conservative justices Had been unable to get a job in a legal market dominated by men despite being second in  her class Only offered a job as a legal secretary One of the strong voices on the court against discrimination  Federal Judges in 2013, by race and gender Appointments to Federal Courts, by Administration  What do Judges do? > Adjudication:   Process of deciding cases.   Differs in trial courts and appellate courts.  > Negotiation:   Case­loads often overwhelming.   Try to get parties to negotiate, and not go to trial in order to lessen the  load.   Settling out of court.  > Administration:   Institution.   A lot of work has to be done to keep institution functioning.  Has to sit in committees to discuss funding and keep courts operating.   Pros and Cons of being a Judge > Cons/Disadvantages » Many skills are required for the job, but there’s really no formal  preparation for the job » It can be a highly stressful job » Finances > Pros/advantages » Freedom and autonomy » Don’t need to drum up clients » Status » Power  10/06/2016 The Plea­Frontline documentary Jury trials­guilty or innocent Pleading guilty for a lesser or reduced sentence­a bargain Defendants were not told what they were being charged for Court appointed lawyers did not care: Poor representation Lawyer knows nothing of the defendant or plaintiff Problem with the system—professionals   Possible reform? Losing rights, heavy fines despite financial status, immigrant possible deportation—on pleading  guilty on probation Prosecution invents stories Threats constitutional and legal  If you do not take the plea, consequences are devastating Prosecuting/police enforcement misconduct tainted verdict—reversal of charges  Fraud and violation of the law  Supreme Court 2005 Make a deal and plead guilty—no contest Plea bargaining—confess yourself guilty/hold false witness against yourself


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