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Courts and the Criminal Process

by: Stephanie Auer

Courts and the Criminal Process CRJU 233

Marketplace > Radford University > Criminal Justice > CRJU 233 > Courts and the Criminal Process
Stephanie Auer
GPA 3.99

Jack Call

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Jack Call
Class Notes
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Stephanie Auer on Monday October 19, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to CRJU 233 at Radford University taught by Jack Call in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 22 views. For similar materials see /class/224735/crju-233-radford-university in Criminal Justice at Radford University.


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Date Created: 10/19/15
Introduction 01 SOME GENERALIZATIONS ABOUT JUDICIAL PROCESS l Courts frequently make decisions that Create law A Traditional view makes law enforces it and interprets it Much too simplistic overriding importance of the ambiguity inherent in words Courts are policy makers Most importantly on constitutional matters Constitutional matters involve greater ambiguity and therefore give judges greater opportunity to exercise discretion are more difficult to change In effect judicial decisions interpreting the Constitution add to and become part of the Constitution and cannot be changed except by amending the Constitution or by persuading the Court to reverseoverrule itself D Courts are political institutions Politics according to David Easton the process whereby authoritative decisions are made about who gets what in society 2 The word politics has acquired a negative connotation which is somewhat unfortunate because it gets in the way of focusing properly and objectively on the political process which is extremely important ll Policy areas affected by court decisions include many matters that are of great importance to most Americans lll All courts make policy but appellate courts are more important policy making bodies than trial courts A Appellate courts issue written opinions which serve as and more courts than legal decisions of trial courts B Trial courts l Courts that hear a case initially 2 Resolve both factual and legal issues C Appellate courts l Courts that hear appeals from trial courts and sometimes from administrative agencies also 2 Decide only legal issues IV There is considerable controversy about what is the proper role of the courts relatively active or relatively passive V Most of the controversy focuses on the supreme court but there is a trend toward greater focusing on the role of other courts as well VI There is an increased tendency to look to the courts as a place to change policy when other institutions appear to be unreceptive civil rights is the prime example The Hollow Hope Gerald Rosenberg a discussion of empirical studies of the impact of important Supreme Court decisions Concludes that such decisions have relatively little impact Vll Legal systems in the Western world Romano Germanic law code law and common law A Code law synonymous terms code law Roman Germanic law continental systems inguisitorial systems civil law systems l older of the 2 dates back to Roman law 2 Most widely used at least in Western society 3 All law can be found in a pre existing comprehensive code 7 4 No doctrine of precedent 5 court decisions are not sources of law only helpful amplifications 6 Judges do not make law they find it and apply it 7 Trial process inguisitional rather than adversary process 8 Characteristics of inquisitorial process a No lay juries career judiciary l Lay persons sit with professional judges as decision makers 2 Only a majority vote usually required for a verdict 3 Voting is usually conducted by secret ballot in an effort to prevent judges from Wielding too much influence on juries b Role of the judge l lnvestigating judge assembles dossier 2 judge presents evidence at trial and questions Witnesses 3 Attorneys suggest questions 4 Witnesses are allowed to testify in narrative form 5 Usually no questioning of Witnesses by attorneys c Proof taking is episodic trial may adjourn for quite some time B Common law l Anglo American 2 King39s judges applied common customs of the country to individual cases on a case by case basis 3 4 key characteristics a Law was predominantly judge made historically at least Prominence of statutory law is late l9th Century development b Importance of precedent and stare decisis l Sometimes the two are not synonymous 2 Precedent a Definition requires that courts look to prior decisions for guidance Holding a rule of law that comes from a judicial opinion or decision c Binding precedents decisions that courts must follow because of stare decisis Persuasive precedents decisions that courts do not have to follow but follow because of the persuasiveness of their reasoning and result Written opinions l Description of facts 2 Description of legal history of the case 3 Discussion of general law relevant to the case 4 Identification of the issue in the case 5 Resolution of the issue with explanation reasoning f Legal reporters l West Publishing s regional reporters 2 Emerging importance of web sites and legal databases such as Westlaw and lexis nexis Case citations know this for testing purposes 3 Stare decisis a developed in England requires that courts follow their own prior decisions and the decisions of higher courts within the same jurisdiction l What is a higher court Appellate courts within a court s state and the Supreme Court on matters of constitutional law 2 Complications caused by petitions for a writ of habeas corpus Can be filed in federal district in criminal cases where a person incarcerated as a result of a conviction obtained in state court claims that the conviction was obtained as a result of a trial at which one or more of his federal constitutional rights were violated Limits on ability to bring a petition for a writ of habeas corpus lncarceration Assertion of federal right Petition may not be based on 4th Amendment claim Stone v Powell l976 Exhaustion of state remedies c mechanisms for enforcement how can judges be compelled to follow precedent l appeals 2 discipline impeachment problematic however non reappointment election defeat 3 peer pressure a desire to maintain the respect of colleagues d the holding in a case creates a rule which becomes a precedent avoiding precedents fact freedom distinguishing a prior case The key in determining whether a court must follow another court s decision is in determining whether the other court is a high court A court is a higher court if the case in the lower court can go to the other court for review Ie can the lower courts ruling be appealed to the other court EXERCISE Which of the following cases would be a binding precedent in a case being tried in the Radford Circuit Court Supreme Court decision right to privacy implicit in the Bill of Rights prohibits bans on abortions during the first 6 months of pregnancy Supreme Court decision determining whether a sawed off shotgun is a concealed weapon under a federal statute which prohibits mailing concealed weapons The phrase concealed weapon is also used in a Virginia statute prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons without a license The question of whether a sawed off shotgun is a concealed weapon has come up in a case in the Radford Circuit Court Virginia Supreme Court decision defining breaking under the statutory provision making it a crime to break and enter a building with the intent to commit a crime therein Decision of the llth Circuit Court of Appeals which includes Alabama Georgia and Florida that the right to freedom of worship in the lst Amendment prohibits states from forcing Amish children to attend school beyond the 8th grade Decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which includes Virginia West Virginia Maryland North Carolina and South Carolina that the right to freedom of worship in the lst Amendment prohibits states from forcing Amish children to attend school beyond the 8th grade Decision of the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia that the Virginia death penalty statute is unconstitutional Decision of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York that the right to freedom of worship in the lst Amendment prohibits states from banning the handling of poisonous snakes during public worship services 4 advantages of precedence and stare decisis a promote stability coherence and predictability b enhances fairness and appearance of justice c promotes work efficiency c many uncodified rules and regulations Codes 7 organized compilations of precedent and star dicesis Types of law Constitutional law derives largely from judicial interpretations of constitutional provisions Statutory law comes from legislative bodies but must be interpreted by courts l The statutes are codified the interpretations are not 2 Annotated codes 7 include brief summaries of cases interpreting a statutory provision right after that section in the code book Administrative law comes from administrative agencies that promulgate regulations based on authority given them by legislature They also must be interpreted by courts Common law comes from judges filling in gaps left in the law by the other three types of law The hierarchy of law 2 Much law emerges from cases 3 Importance of treatises d centrality of adversary system l Key elements a Neutral and detached decision maker and judge Judge may not take active role parties are supposed to be equal so active role by judge upsets the balance of power b party prosecution l Parties decide how to structure cases 2 Parties are equal 3 Parties are advocates for their side have no duty to find the truth 4 Parties call and question witnesses c Highly structured court procedures for conducting trials l Rules of procedure 2 Rules of evidence 3 Rules of ethics professional responsibility 4 canon of judicial ethics 5 Highly rule oriented 6 Goal is to resolve conflicts between the two parties Civil law and common law systems can be viewed as opposite ends of a spectrum but as described here they represent pure models lndividual countries will vary somewhat in different ways from each other from the model Common law systems Much more statutory than they used to be Broadened discovery processes has softened the adversary process somewhat Civil law systems Often some reliance now on precedent Increasing use of statutes to fill in gaps in the code Movement toward recognition of rights that sound very american Conclusions It is inappropriate to automatically conclude that one system is better than the other Denial of Justice Lloyd Weinreb a good criticism of the American adversary process written by an American expert on American criminal procedure with recommendations for adoption of some aspects of the inguistiorial process Trials Without Truth Why Our System of Criminal Trials Has Become an Expensive Failure and What We Need to Do to Rebuild It William PiZZi 7 overall approach is similar to Weinreb book although recommendations are different Judges make law in our legal system by Interpreting the constitution Interpreting statutes Interpreting administrative regulations 4 Exercising their common law rule making authority VIII Institutional Differences Between Courts and Legislatures


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