Criminal Justice System
Courtroom Work Group
Courtroom work group comprises of the various categories of professional officers that partake in the direct court processes. Among the mandatory players of the court process that constitute the court work group include the bailiff, public defenders, the bench composed of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and other employees of the court such as court administrators. In an ordinary court day, at least all these players must have a direct role or must have an interest in the procedure due to their direct involvement in the court process. There are various rules and regulations that provide the official roles of the different work group officials for professionalism to prevail in court processes (Schmalleger, 2011). Statutory guidelines form the conduct provisions that the courtroom officials must follow in the judicial procedures. Among such statutory requirements, provisions of ethical conduct reminiscent of the demands of the profession form the most important role definition and service delivery (Banks, 2004).
Despite the diversity of the roles carried out by various courtroom group players, certain levels of interaction and cooperation must always prevail to facilitate the delivery of requirements of court processes. Among the most important principles of such cooperation is the spirit of compliance with civility rules, which are generally not as formal as the statutory rules. The bottom line in court procedures is the discharge of justice to the public and the participants in the courtroom work groups work with dedication to complete the process (Banks, 2004). In view of possible recommendations to the operations of the courtroom work groups, declaration of the extent of protection of public interest in various positions taken should formulate the ethical culture in courts. Contrary to principles of public interest, certain legal positions appear to favor individuals and courtroom work groups must demonstrate public protection.
Prosecution concept of the courtroom gains materiality due the presence of a prosecutor, who is the state’s representative in cases where public interest protection borne by the state is contravened. Criminals infringe on public interest and the case is presented by the state in court through a prosecutor, who is also referred to as an attorney or solicitor (Schmalleger, 2011). For purposes of title and ascent to office, different prosecution offices exist in the US. For instance, the position of a solicitor in certain states is elective for a period of four year renewable term. Federal prosecutors however ascend to the position through a different arrangement of hiring. Other roles include liaison with the police department to offer legal assistance in cases where technical legal requirements may be needed.
In view of the discernment of the appropriate case to take up for prosecution, the prosecutor must exercise prosecutorial discretion, which is guided by the balance of facts available for the work. As illustrated by the facts of the infamous “Duke Rape Case”, prosecutors must proceed with a particular case if they have sufficient support for a prosecutorial cause (Schmalleger, 2011). The prosecutor in the case was dismissed from service due to light judgment on a case that he chose to prosecute, despite several contradictions. Terming it as a misuse of the enormous power at the disposal of the office, the Attorney General of North Carolina defined the prosecutorial discretion that must be informed from thorough prior analysis of the case. The US Supreme Court’s input in the definition of the discretion that must be exercised by prosecutors provides for some actions that a prosecutor must take to decipher the magnitude of an infringement to amount to prosecution. Assessing the remoteness of case dismissal facts must inform the prosecutor on whether to drop a case of to proceed.
The question of how stringent the criteria of prosecuting a case ought to be is answered by the likelihood of attaining evidence beyond reasonable doubt. In the requirement that the prosecutor must adduce uncontestable evidence, the criteria of prosecuting cases must be based on the availability of evidence. Raising the standards too far may cause the prosecutor to find little evidence in a case whereas lowering the standards too low may lead to dismissal of cases that have sufficient evidence for prosecution. By creating a balance of the available facts and evidence to a case using prosecutorial discretion, a prosecutor should find the appropriate action to take without implicating the credibility of his office.
The criminal justice funnel complicates the deployment of judicial resources across all criminal cases with equality, as a fundamental principle of the criminal justice process. Profiling of cases at the courts leads to discriminatory case execution approach which defies the equality principle in the courts. As a rule of operation, all cases should be accorded the seriousness that they require and an expeditious process provided to the parties of the case. In the criminal justice funnel, the case profiling thereon depicts the system subject to several forces leading to complexities of discharge of justice (Schmalleger, 2011). A majority of cases in the analysis are easily expedited based on their less complex nature while fewer cases get a rare attention due to their high profile and complexity. Resource deployment in the cases is differential due to the inequality witnessed in the attention of the courts, perhaps occasioning the challenge of the court system in terms of efficiency.
The apparent characterization of cases in the funnel leads to complication of discharge of justice, which can build public trust in the delivery of justice since justice delayed is assumed to be denied. All levels of the funnel must be collapsed if the criminal justice system is to attain efficiency levels reminiscent of a society embracing instant innovations and solutions (Smartt, 2006). Due to enhanced technological capacity of the courtroom groups, it is possible for the courts to interrogate the ordinary requirements of the judicial procedure to arrive at the appropriate conclusion with a high accuracy within pleasant timelines. Equally, the cost of carrying out judicial procedures should be revised downwards due to the enhanced information systems making judgments conceivable with impressive speeds. For instance, it is possible for a criminal investigation to proceed with accuracy if forensic expertise currently availed by technologies such as biotechnology continues to form part of the process. While spending on such a case may be presumed to be higher, the removal of the burden on the court upon its disposal releases the court to deal with other cases thereby generating a cheaper option for the entire judicial process.
Cases backlog in the court as a result of inefficiencies and lack of resources to expedite court processes can be overcome if the bottlenecks are eliminated in the system. Speedy arrest, prosecution and trials as envisaged in the Speedy Trial Act which targets at the elimination of cases likely to clog the already crowded case list. In view of the need to reduce the number of unnecessary procedures entering into the judicial process, there are several pretrial procedures that attempt to dispose off lighter cases or reduce the length of the process through bargains. For instance, the prosecution may enter into a pretrial plea bargain where the procedure of adducing evidence in court to implicate the defendant may be shortened by negotiations of disclosure by the defendant for a speedier process. Application of technology may provide speedier delivery of justice such as video conferencing that eliminates time wastage through travelling. Other automation processes that are likely to enhance speed of judicial processes include integration of court processes for improved efficiency such as recording, storage, efficient scheduling and judges’ allocation to cases (Schmalleger, 2011).
Banks, C. (2004). Criminal justice ethics: theory and practice, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.
Schmalleger, F. (2011). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the 21st century (11th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Smartt, U. (2006). Criminal justice, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.