Uploaded on

More on the trial process for my Intro to Journalism class. …

More on the trial process for my Intro to Journalism class.
Source: Melvin Mencher's News Reporting and Writing, 12th Edition.

More in: Education
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads

Views

Total Views
369
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0

Actions

Shares
Downloads
1
Comments
0
Likes
0

Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
    No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Justice for all? A beginning reporter’s guide to the courts Source: Melvin Mencher’s News Reporting and Writing
  • 2. Types of courts • Reporters may cover civil or criminal cases. • Civil courts handle lawsuits, such as recovery for property damages, personal injury and breach of contract. • Civil courts can also issue orders compelling individuals, organizations and government bodies to refrain from action, i.e. preliminary injunctions.
  • 3. Criminal Courts • Most new police and court reporters will quickly be faced with covering the criminal court process. • This process kicks in after arrest and consists of pre-trial and trial periods. • The pretrial period has four phases: Arraignment, preliminary hearing, grand jury action and jury selection.
  • 4. Arraignment • Arraignment: The defendant is told what he/she is charged with, counseled about having the right to an attorney and offered the opportunity to enter a plea. • A prosecutor may, at this point, decide to reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor. If that happens, the case can often be wrapped up right there.
  • 5. Arraignment/Preliminary Hearing • If the defendant pleads guilty to a felony, the case is referred to a higher court. • If the defendant pleads not-guilty to a felony, the case is referred to the appropriate court for a preliminary hearing. • If the defendant waives his right to a preliminary hearing, the case goes to a grand jury. Felonies are handled by district, superior or circuit courts (name depends on the state).
  • 6. Preliminary Hearing • This is where a judge decides if there is reasonable grounds, or probable cause, to send the case to a grand jury. • The defendant may seek to have the charges reduced through plea bargaining. For lesser charges, the prosecutor will often agree. • For more serious charges or if the defendant has a prior record of serious crime, the case will likely go to a grand jury.
  • 7. Grand Jury • In half the states, criminal defendants are brought to trial via a grand jury. If a grand jury, made up (usually) of 23 citizens, decides there is enough evidence to move forward, it issues an indictment, also called a true bill. • If not, the grand jury issues a no bill. • A grand jury hears only the state’s (or prosecution’s) evidence. The prosecutor can move forward with charges even if a no bill is issued.
  • 8. Alternatives to Grand Jury • In 20 states the prosecutor files a charge called an information A judge hears witness testimony at a preliminary hearing and then decides if there is cause for a trial. • In a few states, a prosecutor files affidavits to support the charge. A judge then decides whether to move forward with a trial. • Which system does Texas have?
  • 9. Rearraignment, Plea bargain, • At rearraignment, the proceeding that comes after indictment. A judge empowered to hear felony cases presides. If the defendant pleads not guilty, trial date and bail are set. • Defendants may continue to plea bargain. In NYC, three-fourths of all murder arrests are plea bargained. In many cities, nine out of 10 criminal cases result in a plea bargain. Why?
  • 10. Pre-trial motions • Motion to quash the indictment: Challenges the legality of the indictment. • Motion for a bill of particulars: Asks for more detail about the charges. • Motion to suppress evidence: May argue that it was obtained illegally or improperly. • Motion for change of venue: Argues that the defendant cannot receive a fair trial in the city or judicial area where the crime took place.
  • 11. The Jury • Trials rise and fall on jury selection. • Citizens service on juries. The names of potential jurors are chosen randomly from a jury list. The names come from tax rolls, driver’s license files, voting lists, etc. • Twelve jurors and some alternates are chosen by defense attorneys and prosecutors. Each side gets to challenge the selection of jurors.
  • 12. Selecting Jurors • Two types of challenges: Peremptory, meaning no reason needs to be given for the challenge; for cause, when a specific reason is given. Can you think of a reason an attorney might want to challenge the choice of a particular juror for cause? • Each side is usually limited to 10 peremptory challenges. The judge decides the numbers of challenges for cause.
  • 13. The Trial • Opening Statements: Each side presents its case. • Direct Examination: The prosecution presents its case via witness testimony and evidence. If a judge decides the state has failed to make its case, she can dismiss it right there. • Cross Examination by Defense: Is….? • Redirect Examination: Prosecutor gets another turn.
  • 14. Motions, Rebuttal • The defense may make a motion asking for a “direct acquittal.” • Cross Examination by Prosecutor: The prosecutor may cross examine the defense witnesses. • Redirect Examination by Defense: The defense can come back and ask more questions if it thinks the state has managed to weaken the defense case.
  • 15. Rebuttals • Both sides get rebuttals. Witnesses may be recalled to the stand. New rebuttal witnesses may be called, but not without the judge’s permission. • Summations: These are the closing arguments offered by both sides. • Charge to Jury: The judge issues instructions to the jury. The jury must follow the law.
  • 16. Verdict and Sentence • Criminal trial: The jury’s verdict must be unanimous. If a jury cannot come to a unanimous decision, the judge declares a mistrial. • The sentence may be pronounced immediately or later if the judge asks for a sentencing report (i.e. more information). • The verdict story must include: Specific charges of conviction, length of possible sentence, time the jury deliberated, a summary of the trial.