Court Based Answered Essays

1. Describe the composition of the courtroom work group. Explain how it controls the processing of criminal cases in most jurisdictions.Description. The courtroom workgroup comprises individuals, as well as teams, who remain tasked with the responsibility of working together with the sole purpose of ensuring successful prosecution of criminal court cases. The individuals in question include the judge, defendants, jurors, claimants, prosecutors, as well as defense attorneys. According to Spohn, Hemmens, and McCann (2018), other workgroup players or actors consists of the law clerks, the news media, court clerks, police officers, court administrators, and witnesses. The identified parties play a variety of roles, with the judge issuing warrants, presiding over hearings, presiding over trials, making or issuing different forms of probable cause determinations, ruling on motions, and denying and granting bails. On the same note, prosecuting lawyers play a leading role in representing the state when it comes to criminal cases, while their defense counterparts working as private appointees in ensuing the defendants’ civil rights are not only protected but also defended throughout the case proceedings. Additionally, the jurors help with determining whether the defendant is guilty of the criminal offense he or she has so far been charged within the court of law (Suzanne & Elizabeth, 2016). Concisely, the roles played by members of the courtroom workgroup are interdependent and complementary.

Case processing. Given its role of ensuring successful prosecution of a case, the courtroom workgroup influences the processing of criminal cases from their inception to their completion, commonly known as logical conclusion. To achieve this, the workgroup in question works together by creating an environment characterized by justice. In this respect, justice refers to the court atmosphere characterized by a great deal of fairness, which revolves around offering equal opportunity to defendants and prosecutors, regardless of their religious affiliation, gender, national origin, race, age, as well as age (Spohn, Hemmens, & McCann, 2018). In addition, the courtroom workgroup is structured in a way that it boasts different authority or power relationships. For instance, the judge serves as the supreme leader or ruler of the court, which remains reflected in his or her dress, how other individuals address them, and the design of the courtroom. Despite the leadership role of judges, their authority is limited, especially by appeals, prosecutor’s discretion, sentencing guidelines, budgetary control, as well as jurisdiction (American Bar Association, 2019). In this way, the presiding judge must rely on the laid-down court procedures, including relying on prosecutors and defense attorneys to present evidence or witnesses.

Prosecutors, the key members of the courtroom workgroup, have superior knowledge about a given criminal case, meaning they enjoy a great deal of discretion over what cases will go to the trial stage. On the same note, defense attorneys play a central role in interviewing witnesses as a way of obtaining evidence through file pretrial motions, as well as discovery (Spohn, Hemmens, & McCann, 2018). In this way, the courtroom workgroup members control the processing of criminal cases by sharing common goals of doing justice, reducing uncertainty, maintaining high-level group cohesion, and reducing the caseload. The different bases of their knowledge revolve around the fact that they utilize three main techniques in determining whether a given case would end in a plea agreement or trial: negotiations, unilateral decisions, as well as adversarial proceedings. Ultimately, the courtroom’s workgroup influences case processing through informal arrangements, better negotiations, establishment of cooperative relationships, and less reliance on legal formalities.

2. How do judges decide? Discuss the factors judges legitimately consider when imposing sentences, and what scholarly studies indicate may also be influencing judges’ sentencing decisions.

3. Explain why the threat of a potential “trial penalty” is essential to maintain a criminal court system reliant upon plea agreements. Is a system that induces the vast majority of defendants to give up their constitutional rights legitimate?

4. Discuss the appellate process from trial to the U.S. Supreme Court. Distinguish between direct appeals and habeas corpus proceedings or interlocutory appeals.

5. Do you believe in problem solving courts? Which do you believe are most likely to prove effective today and in the future?  Are there any other specialized courts you would propose?  Why?

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