CJ 158 Lecture 6 Spring 2011 - Courts and Adjudication

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March 31, 2011:

Courts and Adjudication Discuss: The Functions and Structure of American Courts Defense attorneys Prosecutors Judges March 31, 2011

Function of the Courts:

Function of the Courts United States has a dual court system Federal court systems and State court systems American courts adversarial process The state and defendant are represented by lawyers Each of which is trying to represent their clients ’ best interests All courts are limited to trying cases in their own jurisdictions, or geographic area of control Court functions: Norm enforcement by setting expectations for personal behavior Dispute processing to assist citizens in settling their disagreements Higher courts also engage in policy making, by interpreting state constitutions and the U.S. Constitution

Dual System:

Dual System Federal Courts Oversee a limited range of cases dealing with federal crimes: Counterfeiting Kidnapping Smuggling State Courts Oversee the full range of cases Both have appellate and trial courts

Slide 5:

New York is in the 2 nd Circuit United U.S. District Court Eastern District of NY Location 1 U.S. District Court Eastern District of NY Location 2 U.S. District Court Southern District of NY & U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit

2nd Circuit Courts in New York:

(Sources: http://www.nynd.uscourts.gov/ Northern District; http://www.nyed.uscourts.gov/ Eastern District; http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/ Southern District; http://www.nywd.uscourts . gov/mambo/ Western District 2 nd Circuit Courts in New York

Dual System:

Dual System State level 52 courts of last resort (equivalent to the US SC) Texas and Oklahoma have 2 courts of last resort The supreme courts of Texas and Oklahoma deal with civil cases Courts of criminal appeals deal with criminal cases Intermediate court of appeals Trial courts of general jurisdiction Trial courts of limited jurisdiction Approximately 16,000 different courts that operate in the US Majority of these are at the local level

Dual System:

Dual System Fragmented court system is a result of federalism Local governments should enjoy autonomy Different structures from state to state In most states the State Supreme Court is the court of last resort - Not NY In NY it refers to general district trial courts

Court Structures:

To view the court structure of New York State visit: http://www.ncsconline.org/D_Research/Ct_Struct/state_inc.asp?STATE=NY Court Structures

New York Courts Structure:

Source: http://www.ncsconline.org/D_Research/Ct_Struct/state_inc.asp?STATE=NY New York Courts Structure

State Courts:

State Courts Courts of limited jurisdiction deal with Courts of general jurisdiction deal with http://www.ncsconline.org/D_Research/Ct_Struct/include/NY.pdf

State Courts:

State Courts Appellate courts Intermediate courts of appeals – first level of relief Court of last resort State Supreme Court (in most states – not NY) United States Supreme Court

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court Current members: Begins its term on the 1 st Monday in October & adjourns in late June/early July of the next year The SC reviews… Might be considered the most powerful entity in the US government Their rulings impact the country ’ s policies

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court How does the SC decide which cases tor review Court ’ s decision is almost entirely discretionary The justices never have to explain their reasons for hearing a certain case and not others Makes it difficult to predict which cases or type of cases will be reviewed During the 2008-2009 Session the heard Herring v. United States, but denied the writ of certiorari of Thompson v. McNeil

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court Writ of certiorari (sur-shee-uh-rah-ree) Writ of habeas corpus – “ a judicial order requesting that a judge examine whether an individual is being properly detained in jail, prison, or mental hospital ” Habeas corpus might also be filed in relation to the conditions of confinement

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court Herring v. United States Court dealt with the application of the exclusionary rule Herring was arrested on a warrant issued by a neighboring county Warrant was no longer valid and only remained in the database due to a clerical error District Court denied motion to suppress – citing good faith Supreme Court affirmed by a 5-4 vote “ isolated police negligence attenuated from [an] improper arrest ” does not necessarily require application of the rule

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court Thompson v. McNeil Thompson had been on death row in Florida for 32 years Claimed the excessive time was cruel and unusual punishment Court denied the writ Justice Stevens, “ a punishment of death after significant delay is ‘ so totally without penological justification that it results in the gratuitous infliction of suffering. ’” Justice Stephen Breyer summed up why he believed the Court should take this case: "The question here, however, is whether the Constitution permits [the] execution after a delay of 32 years—a delay for which the State was in significant part responsible." Justice Thomas - pointed to the cruelty of the murder Thompson committed and asserted that it was the defendant himself who caused the delays in question

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court Factors that influence the review of a case More than 90% of the petitions for review are denied

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court Upon granting certiorari Research the legal issues and facts surrounding the case Supreme Court does not hear any evidence Important to understand that the court does not determine guilt or innocence Only deals with the constitutionality of the case Attorneys present oral arguments to the justices Justices can ask questions at any point in time during the oral arguments Every oral argument is tape recorded You can listen to them @ www.oyez.org Herring v. United States

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court SC decisions Affirm the lower court ’ s decision Reverse the lower court ’ s decision Example - United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984) Remand the case back to the lower Example - a lower court might have held that a party was not entitled to bring a lawsuit under a particular law. If the SC holds to the contrary, it will send the case back to the trial court instructing them to commence a trial.

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court Unanimous decision - entire court (usually all 9 justices) agrees on a decision Majority decision – 5 or more justices agree on the decision Also concurring and dissenting opinions Concurring opinion represents an agreement with the unanimous or majority opinion but with qualification Example - Justice Blackmun wrote a concurring opinion in the Leon - while he agreed with the overall ruling of the issue he cautioned against casting it in stone Dissenting opinion is written when one or more justices (but less than the majority) disagree with the majority opinion Dissenting opinions can only occur when there is not a unanimous decision Example - Justice Brennan wrote a dissenting opinion in the Leon He and Justice Marshall disagreed with the court ’ s ruling because in essence it leaves the door open to argue that the benefits of including evidence outweigh the costs of how it is obtained is a slippery slope

United States Supreme Court:

United States Supreme Court People complain about the amount of work the SC completes annually Since 1980s # reviews has declined 1982-83 session heard 151 cases Early 2000s the # dropped to around 75 2005-2006 session heard 69 cases

Courtroom Actors:

Courtroom Actors 4 groups keep the wheels of justice turning Lawyers Defense attorneys (1) Prosecutors (2) Judges (3) Juries (4) Each of the major players has a unique and distinctive role

Attorneys:

Attorneys Overwhelming majority of lawyers do not deal with criminal cases (Neubauer, 1984) Most deal with civil, contract, intellectual property, tax law, etc. Not a lot of money in criminal law Most people can ’ t afford to pay for their defense Glorified cases like O.J. or Gotti are not the norm In general, less skilled attorneys focus on criminal defense

Attorneys:

Attorneys There are good private defense attorneys but because so many defendants are indigent they usually only deal with a small proportion of cases Research on public vs. private defense - nearly 80% of defendants prosecuted in the Nation ’ s largest 75 counties receive publicly provided legal counsel (Harlow, 2000) In federal court it is about 65% of defendants

Attorneys:

Attorneys Prior to Gideon defendants in state proceedings were not guaranteed counsel As a result of this case, public defender systems were created across the country If a defendant cannot secure privately obtained counsel they are entitled to an appointed attorney at the states ’ expense 3 ways in which an attorney might be appointed to the defendant

Providing Counsel for Indigent Defendants:

Providing Counsel for Indigent Defendants

Assigned Counsel System :

Assigned Counsel System Most likely in small jurisdictions Two ways of assigning Private attorneys volunteer to have their name on a list In some instance the list is based on all the attorneys barred in that area (non-voluntary) Issue - attorneys might not specialize in criminal law Might be assigned an attorney that primarily deals with contract law

Assigned Counsel System :

Assigned Counsel System Low paying job Suffolk County $60.00 per hour for misdemeanor cases and the cap is $2,400 For felony cases the cap is $4,400 but they do not list the hourly rate (Source: http://suffolk18b.org/contactus.html)

Contract System :

Contract System County enters a contract with a private law firm Fixed amount of money to handle the estimated number of cases for a given year Estimated contract systems are used in about 200 counties in the U.S. In some instances the law firm has the right to renegotiate if the funds run out prior to the end of the year Method might …

Public Defender System :

Public Defender System Hire full or part-time salaried attorneys to represent indigent defendants Attorneys that work for a public defender ’ s office are on the state ’ s payroll Issues Some defendants are reluctant to trust PD High caseloads 2007 - public defenders in Kentucky handled an average of 436 cases (Lewis, 2007) How might this impact case preparation

Indigent Defendants :

Indigent Defendants 1996 - 4.2 million indigent cases were handled by courts in the 100 most populated counties across the country (DeFrances and Litras, 2000) 3,141 counties and county equivalents in the 50 States and the District of Columbia (Source: http://www.usgs.gov ) 3% of the counties in the U.S. dealt with 4.2 million indigent defendants in 1996

Appointed vs. Private Attorney:

Appointed vs. Private Attorney Once thought that private counsel led to better outcomes Recent studies have shown that there are few differences in: Plea bargaining rates (Nardulli, 1986) Conviction rates Sentences received (Hanson and Chapper, 1991)

Attorney Competency:

Attorney Competency Just because a defendant is provided counsel does not mean the person representing him/her is competent Documented cases of defense attorneys Showing up to court so drunk they could not even stand up straight, even in capital cases (Bright, 1994) Having so little knowledge of criminal law that irreversible mistakes were made that sent their clients to death row (Smith, 1997) Falling asleep during trial in death penalty case in Texas Presiding judge claimed that while everyone has a constitutional right to counsel, “ the Constitution does not say the lawyer has to be awake ” (Shapiro, 1997)

Prosecutors:

Prosecutors Prosecutors go by many names: District attorneys, state ’ s attorneys, commonwealth attorneys, or county attorneys In each case they represent the state No such thing as a private prosecutor Decide whether criminal charges are warranted, which charges to make, and what sentence to recommend to the court Local level – most prosecutors are elected In Alaska, Connecticut, and New Jersey the prosecutor is appointed Size of DA ’ s office vary by jurisdiction Los Angeles, CA - prosecutor ’ s office employs 500 assistant prosecutors as well as numerous legal staff Louisville, KY – prosecutor ’ s office employs 102 staff including 48 assistant prosecutors

Prosecutors:

Prosecutors The Suffolk County prosecutor ’ s office is headed by … Elected position Approximately 150 Assistant District Attorneys The DA ’ s office oversees 14 different Bureaus ranging from: The district court bureau (minor crimes) to The major crimes bureau (felony crimes) to The economic crimes bureau (economic crimes e.g., fraud) Felony conviction rate of more than 97% Each year more than 1,000 applicants apply for a limited number of positions as assistant district attorneys (Source: www.co.suffolk.ny.us)

Prosecutors:

Prosecutors Federal level - prosecutors are called U.S. Attorneys Appointed by … Government might also create an office of special prosecution to investigate and prosecute special cases - happens when: Concern about possible conflicts of interest Case is so complex that it would disrupt normal operating procedures Examples: Whitewater, Watergate, and the Lewinsky scandal Needs to be an impartial party conducting the investigation Often prosecutors use their job as a springboard for a political career Rudy Giuliani was a US Attorney turned Mayor of NYC Who is currently the Attorney General of the United States? … Responsible for overseeing all Department of Justice operations including the US Attorneys office

Judges:

Judges Presiding over trial hearings, they also act as a negotiator, administrator, and in some instances problem solver Help prosecutors and defense attorneys negotiate plea deals Smaller rural jurisdictions they make sure the courthouse runs efficiently Problem solver in specialized courts for drug addicts, mentally ill persons, domestic violence, and homeless people Designed to divert away from going to jail/prison Instead of incarceration offenders might be required to visit the drug court monthly so a judge can monitor his/her progress If the offender violates the conditions set by the judge the judge can impose criminal sanctions

Judges:

Judges No standardized process for becoming a judge in the United States – at the local level Requirements to become a judge are not standard either In Maine and Massachusetts judges are not required to have a law degree There is no constitutional requirement stipulating that judges at the federal or local level are attorneys (Travis, 2008) Selection of judges Five methods currently used in the US Overwhelming majority of judges are elected but the process differs across states

Selection Processes for Judges:

Selection Processes for Judges No difference between a partisan and nonpartisan election procedurally Difference: Nonpartisan elections - candidate does not list their party affiliation on the ballot Partisan election - candidate lists their party affiliation on the ballot (Source: American Judicature Society, 2008 as cited in Cole and Smith, 2010)

Selection Processes for Judges:

Selection Processes for Judges Gubernatorial appointment - judges appointed by the Governor of their state Legislative selection – judges are appointed by the state ’ s legislature (Source: American Judicature Society, 2008 as cited in Cole and Smith, 2010)

Selection Processes for Judges:

Selection Processes for Judges Merit selection (Missouri Plan) - combines appointment and election Eligible judges are recommended to the governor by a committee of citizens and attorneys Governor decides who replaces the vacant seat Retention elections - voters merely determine whether the judge should be retained (Source: American Judicature Society, 2008 as cited in Cole and Smith, 2010)

New York State Judgeship Terms:

(Source: http://www.judicialselection.us ) New York State Judgeship Terms

Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields – very high, high, average, low, or very low: Judges?:

Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields – very high, high, average, low, or very low: Judges? (Source: Cole and Smith, 2011)

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