Chapter 7 overview


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Chapter 7 overview

  1. 1. Chapter 7 Courtroom Participants and the TrialChapter OutlineI. The Adjudication Process Jurisdiction Trials in Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Trials in Courts of General Jurisdiction and Federal District CourtsII. Charges and Proceedings before Trial Determining the Charges: The Police and the Prosecutor Bail Competency to Stand Trial and the Insanity Defense Plea BargainingIII. Preparation for the Criminal Trial The Sixth Amendment Right to a Speedy Trial The Speedy Trial Act of 1974 Rules of EvidenceIV. Participants in the Criminal Trial Duties and Rights of ParticipantsV. The Criminal Trial Justice Is the Goal
  2. 2. Learning ObjectivesAfter completion of this chapter, students should be able to:1. Describe the basic legal philosophy of a criminal trial.2. Understand how court jurisdiction is determined.3. Identify major pretrial proceedings.4. Explain the Sixth Amendment requirement for a speedy trial.5. Know the roles of the participants in a criminal trial.Key TermsArraignment (p. 112) a short hearing before the judge in which the charges against thedefendant are announcedBail (p. 112) a promise, sometimes backed by a monetary guarantee, that the accused will returnfor further proceedingsBail bondsagent (p. 113) an agent of a private commercial business that has contracted with thecourt to act as a guarantor of a defendant’s return to courtBailiff (p. 119) a county deputy sheriff or U.S. deputy marshal responsible for providing securityand maintaining order in a courtroomBarker v. Wingo (p. 117) the court ruled that the defendant’s failure to request a speedy trialdoes not negate the defendant’s right to a speedy trialBench trial (p. 122) a trial in which the judge rather than a jury makes the determination ofguiltyCharge to the jury (p. 121) written instructions about the application of the law to a case thatthe judge gives to the jury to help them reach a verdictCircumstantial evidence (p. 121) evidence that implies that the defendant is connected to thecrime but does not prove itClearing cases (p. 115) refers to the status of a criminal offense. When the police or prosecutorassert that the perpetrator of the crime is known the case is “cleared”
  3. 3. Clerk of court (p. 119) a government employee who works directly with the trial judge and isresponsible for court paperwork and records before and during a trialCompetent to stand trial (p. 114) the concept that a defendant comprehends the charges againsthim or her and is able to assist his or her attorney with the defenseConditional release (p. 114) a bail alternative in which the defendant is released from custody ifhe or she agrees to court-ordered terms and restrictionsContempt of court (p. 118) a charge against any violator of the judge’s courtroom rules,authorizing the judge to impose a fine or term of imprisonmentCourt docket (p. 116) the calendar on which court cases are scheduled for trialCourt recorder (court reporter) (p. 119) a stenographer who transcribes every word spoken bythe judge, attorneys, and witnesses during a trialDefense attorney (p. 119) the defendant will have an attorney appointed by the court or a privateattorney paid for by the defendant to represent him or her in the trialDirect evidence (p. 121) evidence that connects the defendant with the crimeDouble jeopardy (p. 109) the rule that a defendant can be charged only once and punished onlyonce for a crime; if tried and found innocent, the defendant cannot be retried even if newevidence of his or her guilt is discoveredDue process (p. 110) rules and procedures for protecting individuals accused of crimes fromarbitrary and excessive abuse of power by the governmentExcessive bail (p. 112) Eighth Amendment prohibits bail which is excessive but there is nouniform standard as what “excessive” isExpert witness (p. 121) gives testimony based on his or her expert knowledge and can makeinferences beyond the factsGag order (p. 122) a judge’s order to participants and observers at a trial that the evidence andproceedings of the court may not be published, broadcasted, or discussed publiclyGrand jury (p. 110) a panel of citizens that decides whether there is probable cause to indict adefendant on the alleged chargesIndigent defense (p. 122) the right to have an attorney provided free of charge by the state if adefendant cannot afford one, established in Gideon v.Wainwright (1963)
  4. 4. Initial appearance (p. 110) the Court determines the charges against the defendant arelegitimate, advises the defendant of his or her rights, sets bail, and assesses the need for legalrepresentation for the defendantLay witness (p. 120) a citizen who testifies only to what he or she heard, saw, felt, smelled, orotherwise directly experiencedLegal standards of evidence (p. 121) standards requiring that evidence and the testimony ofwitnesses must be competent, material, and relevantHearsay evidence (p. 120) information about a crime obtained secondhand from another ratherthan directly observedPlea bargaining (p. 115) the negotiation between defendant and prosecutor for a plea of guiltyfor which in return the defendant will receive some benefit such as reduction of charges ordismissal of some chargesPreliminary hearing (p. 110) a hearing before a magistrate judge in which the prosecutionpresents evidence to convince the judge that there is probable cause to bring the defendant to trialPretrial motions (p. 110) are requests by the prosecutor or defense made in advance of the trialReal evidence (p. 120) physical evidence, such as a gun, a fingerprint, a photograph, or DNAmatchingRelease on recognizance (ROR) (p. 114) provides for the pretrial release of the accused, basedmerely on the defendant’s unsecured promise to appear at trialRules of evidence (p. 118) administrative court rules governing the admissibility of evidence ina trialSentence bargaining (p. 116) the defendant negotiates with the prosecutor for a reduction inlength of sentence, reduction from capital murder to imprisonment, probation rather thanincarceration, or institution where the sentence is to be served in return for a guilty pleaSignature bond (p. 114) the release of a defendant based on his or her signature on a promise toappear in court, usually for minor offenses such as traffic violationsStatute of limitations (p. 116) legal limits regarding the length of time between the discovery ofa crime and the arrest of the defendantTaylor v. Louisiana (p. 123) ruled the exclusion of women from jury duty created an imbalancein the jury poolTestimonial evidence (p. 120) the testimony of a witness
  5. 5. Unsecured bond (p. 114) releases the defendant based on his or her signing a promissory noteagreeing to pay the court an amount similar to a cash bail bond if he or she fails to fulfill thepromise to appear at trialVoir dire (p. 120) the process through which a jury is selected from the members of the jurypool who have been determined to be eligible for serviceChapter SummaryA criminal trial is very complex event involving many participants who are doing work behindthe scene. The three types of criminal trials occur in either state trials in courts of limitedjurisdiction, state trials in courts of general jurisdiction, or federal criminal trials. Trials in courtsof limited jurisdiction are brief and involve misdemeanor crimes. The majority of trials areconducted in state courts of general jurisdiction. The police and the prosecutor must work together to bring charges against the defendant.This relationship serves as a check and balance for the potential abuse of power. Prior to a trial,the court decides if the defendant is to be granted bail or denied because of concern for publicsafety. Given that many trials take months to reach the courtroom, the poor are many times at adisadvantage spending more time in jail than most awaiting trial. Prior to trial it is the court’sresponsibility to assess the defendant’s competence to understand the charges against them. If thedefendant is not competent to stand trial, the trial is postponed, while the court orders a series ofpsychiatric evaluations. The process of plea bargaining is a very important mechanism for reducing the back log ofpending cases, and over 90 percent of defendants do plead guilty. Plea bargaining can focus on areduction in charges or the on the length of sentencing. Because of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974,most defendants must be brought to trial within 100 days of arrest. This requirement places greatstress on the resources of the prosecutor and the court to meet this expectation under the SixthAmendment. Prior to the trial, both prosecutor and defense counsel to the case might make a number ofpretrial motions, including: motions for continuance, discovery, change of venue, suppression,bill of particulars, severance of charges or defendants, as well as case dismissal.The court recorder records every word spoken at the trial for permanent record. The bailiff isresponsible for security and escorting the jury. The prosecutor is responsible for presenting theevidence against the defendant. The judge determines what evidence can be presented to ensurethat the defendant gets a fair trial. Defendants are entitled to court-appointed counsel if theycannot afford a lawyer.Media to ExploreGo to, the official Web site of the federal judiciary, forinformation about the district courts, including many links to other resources.Go to to view training programs for bonds agents.
  6. 6. Go to forfurther information regarding pretrial motions.Go to for extensive information about the history and personnel ofthe state of Illinois court system. Each of the state courts will have a similar Web site that youcan visit for information about the court system. For example, the Web site for California courtsis the Web site forinformation concerning the insanity defense.The American Bar Association provides information about the right to a speedy trial at