Courtroom Essays

The Judiciary’s role is to give everyone fair access to the courts to solve legal problems fairly and efficiently, decide justly the guilt or innocence of anyone charged with a crime, and interpret the laws and protect the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitutions of California and the United States. Criminal court is where you go when the state believes you have committed a crime and it files charges against you. The Criminal Court has jurisdiction over infraction, misdemeanor and felony cases. The Criminal Court conducts trials, motions, arraignments, preliminary hearings, probation hearings, mental health proceedings, and other types of criminal proceedings. In this essay I will be discussing my visit to the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana on March 26, 2014 and my observations of the criminal proceedings in Department C58.

In the courtroom were the public defenders, the district attorneys, private attorneys, court clerks, a court reporter, a bailiff, a resident probation officer, the judge, in custody defendants, out of custody defendants, spectators in the audience and when needed an interpreter. The defendants were charged with a variety of different crimes including petty theft, drunk in public, under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia and more serious crimes including possession of a controlled substance for sales, possession of a fire arm, commercial burglary, forgery, fraud and counterfeiting as well as probation violations.

The judge took the bench at around 9:30 am and started with the defendants that were charged with misdemeanor offenses. The judge called each defendant’s name; each defendant would step up to the podium, the judge then gave notice of the charges the defendant was currently being accused of. On several occasions the judge called the name of a defendant that was not present, she then issued an arrest warrant for the defendant, revoking their current bail, in some cases a new bail was set but the majority of the warrant’s had no bail amount. For the defendants that were present out of custody the judge would offer the defendant a sentence for the charges and asked for the defendant’s plea to the charges.

If the defendant wished to plead not guilty to the charges, which commonly occurred, the judge then appointed the public defender’s office to represent the defendant for the matter. In several cases the defendants were charged with a misdemeanor including under the influence of a controlled substance (HS 11550 a), possession of paraphernalia (HS 11364), petty theft (PC 484 a) and drunk in public (PC 647), these defendants provided the county with a sample of their DNA, they were required to pay a $75 collection fee and then charges against them were dismissed.

After the judge completed the misdemeanor cases she moved on to the felony cases, which were more complex. Just like with the misdemeanor cases, the judge would call the name of the defendant and have them step up to the podium, she would then give them notice of the charges against them and ask if they were able to afford an attorney if they were not able to do so she then would appoint the public defender’s to represent the defendant.

The cases that I observed were in a variety of different stages of the criminal case proceedings. Theses stages included arraignments, pre trials, preliminary hearing and sentencing. In most of the cases the judge would calendar the case for a further date. In these cases the defendant is notified of their constitutional right to a speedy trial and in order to set the case for a continuance the defendant had to agree to waive this right.

The defendant’s that decided to plead guilty to their charges were notified of their constitutional rights that they would be giving up by pleading guilty to the charges these rights included the right to a jury trial, their right to a speedy trial and their right to confrontation. The judge sentenced the defendant’s to a variety of sentences including fines, restitution, diversion programs, classes, county jail time, probation and state prison. The defendant’s that were in custody and were sentenced to jail time the judge would notify the defendant of his actual credits and his good time and give the defendant how many credits he/she had towards their sentence.

If the defendant’s sentence included probation, the defendant had to agree to the terms and conditions of their probation and the judge reviewed the rights that they were giving up to be placed on probation, including the right to own a fire arm and the defendant’s search and seizure rights. In conclusion, I found my courtroom visit to be great learning experience. More specifically after visiting the courthouse and seeing our criminal justice system firsthand, I feel that I have a greater understanding of the different topics we have been learning about in class including the different stages of the criminal court proceedings, the constitutional rights each person has when charged with committing a crime and the different people involved with the criminal courts.

Cameras In The Courtroom Essay

Cameras in the Courtroom
Throughout history there have always been issues concerning judicial courts and proceedings: issues that include everything from the new democracy of Athens, Greece, to the controversial verdict in the Casey Anthony trial as well as the Trayvon Martin trial. One of the more recent and ever changing issues revolves around cameras being allowed and used inside courtrooms. It was stated in the Handbook of Court Administration and Management by Stephen W. Hays and Cole Blease Graham, Jr. that “the question of whether or not to allow cameras in American courtrooms has been debated for nearly fifty years by scholars, media representatives, concerned citizens, and others involved in the criminal justice system.” The negatives that can be attached to the presence of cameras inside a courtroom are just as present, if not more present, than the positives that go hand-in-hand with the presence of cameras.
Through the past 50 years the television camera has become a part of human nature. Each channel is there to represent a different aspect of society. It has given society the ability to witness traumatic world events, infamous police investigations and debates in the House of Commons from the comfort of their own home. The question remains unanswered, why is the public not able to observe a courtroom trial on television? Some claim that the media would distort the whole process having a negative impact on jury, however, if certain protocols are followed there would be no conflicts concerning cameras in the courtroom. The media should be able to film trials in the courtroom as it would create a better society.
Viewing a judge's sentence creates a divide in society. Will the accused be offered a fair trial? Could the trial educate the public as to how the criminal justice system operates? Would the public scrutinize the system? All of these questions are compelling reasons for why the media should be able to enter the courtroom. The Canadian legal system has been publicly criticized for being fundamentally flawed, the only way society can solve this is to understand where the conflicts are and why they are occurring. Public law is a very important to our society as it governs the relations between the government and the people. The public should be able to carefully analyze the system to satisfy their right to know what occurs behind the closed doors of the courtroom.
The primary objective of punishment in the judicial system is to create a deterrent. Where better to create deterrence than in media; as the media will provide publicly viewed consequences resulting from the failure to follow the law. Watching a judge's sentence someone to 25 years in prison with no chance of parole can truly be a learning experience for someone and a total night mare for others. Society can only read and hear about results from cases, but that does not provide visualization of what actually happens in the court room. Many countries have allowed TV...

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