America’s Courts and the Criminal Justice System

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Please note that all response posts must contain a minimum of 500 words and include proper citation. Any response post that fails to meet the minimum word count will receive a grade of zero.


Title America’s Courts and the Criminal Justice System
Author David W. Neubauer; Henry F. Fradella

response to Monica Lass

The term courtroom work group is a meeting between a prosecutor, defense attorney, and a judge. The idea is that if these people who generally all do something different, still work towards the same cause. If these people work together, hopefully they can produce an outcome for the overall justice deserved. Each actor in the courtroom wants to keep a respectful relationship and they want to keep the entire process running smoothly.

The defense attorney’s job is to help their client as best as they can. This may include trying to get the charges dropped or lowered to something more minor. There is a major lack of defense attorneys that work for the state and they are often inexperienced. They usually have so many clients that it is hard to fully submerge them self into a case. “¾ of state prison inmates have a court appointed lawyer” (Cengage Learning 2017). With such few defense lawyers and so many people needing them, it can be extremely difficult to manage all their cases.

The prosecutor’s job during the courtroom work group is to keep the process moving, usually to try to come to an agreement through a plea bargain. A plea bargain is when a prosecutor and defense attorney agree on the accused person admitting guilt, but for a lower charge. The defense attorney does this by making sure that the defense attorney feels like their client will be proven guilty, so they might as well take the deal.

The judge’s job is to maintain order, and determine that all evidence is legal. They also have the most influence over sentencing the convicted person. A big part of their job is examining all of the facts presented in a fair and neutral mind set.

The main effect of case outcomes from the courtroom work group is definitely the prosecutor’s influence on the way he defense attorney defends their client. Often a plea bargain is offered. This is done by stacking up evidence against the accused person and making the defense attorney feel like they will not have a chance of being proven innocent. This allows the prosecutor to still charge the accused person with a crime and win, but also allows the defense attorney to do their job, by lowering the sentence.

The most important person is the judge because they have final say. Some judges hear a small case without a jury, making them the only decision maker, and they also keep order in the courtroom the entire time. The judge is the highest member of the courtroom work group and would be considered very respected. Judges are also supposed to remain completely impartial but sometimes they will have prejudices that make their decision making sway a certain way. The fact that they are able to do this makes them pretty powerful. The most powerful part of a judge’s job is when they sentence a guilty person.

Response two Daryl Dukes

The individuals that work in the courtroom everyday regardless of what types of cases come in and out remain the same. The prosecutor, judge, defense attorney, clerk, and bailiff all contribute to an efficiency that is largely unseen by the public. I have been in the legal community for a while now and yes, I can verify that seeing a real courtroom in action and knowing the players involved it can be mostly mundane but also passionate. The concept of the courtroom workgroup has become a standard way of explaining patterns of decisions produced by, and dynamics within, criminal trial courts in common law jurisdictions (Young, R. 2013).

Researching varied thoughts on the courtroom workgroup, 2017 points out that speed is one of the cornerstones of the courtroom workgroup and they focus on processing cases rather than dispensing justice. The fact that there is a unique rapport within this workgroup and each member has a goal to achieve for their own purpose facilities a path to a resolution that is more appropriate to the reality of the situation. This outcome is based on a discussion of the possible charges against a person and the severity of the crime weighed against any kind of procedural flaws that may be an obstacle that could lead to an unfavorable outcome for either party. This is how plea bargains can come about and be agreed upon.

In my opinion, the most important member of the workgroup is the prosecutor. The discretion that is provided prosecutors is broad. They have the upper in almost all situations and can direct which way. With prosecutorial discretion, a prosecutor can decide whether or not to charge, what to charge, and when to charge. They have investigative resources through crime labs, law enforcement agencies as well as their own in house investigators. They can pressure witness to cooperate or reward them for cooperating. I believe that this discretion can be abused and possibly in the future we will develop statutes or other law that will limit or delegate these powers.

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