Day in Court
This writing highlights various elements of the criminal justice after I visited a Boston Municipal Court. This court is situated at the Government Center T stop on the Green Line and the case was presided over by Honorable James W. Coffey. Indeed, by attending the court proceedings I was able to understand and grab some of the activities involved in administration of justice. It is interesting to see the degree in which courtrooms attempt to maintain peace and unity of the society via their jurisdiction and the investigative minds of the judges. It is worth understandable that Criminal Justice has the police, court and jails as the main components although the police are the front face of this kind of law. The ongoing court trial that I attended involved forceful attack on two innocent couples.
The victims were Mr. and Mrs. Patrick who were driving on but unfortunately, their car rammed from behind. The couple then got out of their car to check on the cause of the problem. Immediately they got out of the car, they were attacked by a gang that included about six heavily built men with guns on their hands who abducted the couple and drugged them for a shorter distance, approximately 60 yards before dropping them along the way. Regrettably, Mr. Paul who attempted to seek medical attention from the nearby health facility was pronounced dead due to a good number of backbone fractures and heart attack. Mrs. Paul was however just slapped by someone who seemed to be the head of the gang.
An attempt by the accused lawyer to defend the defendant by terming the crime scene as unrealistic and marred with malice did not succeed. Judge Coffey refused the lawyer’s claim by claiming that the criminal history of the accused was wanting and highly questionable. Judge James added that the accused person had a very bad record of serial murder trials, which began almost a year ago. Judge James further identified two of the accused close friends and termed them as some of the most wanted criminals according to the police department. Coffey noted that despite past hearings, the accused does not seem to be learning any lesson and that the nature of the crime was inexcusable morally and ranked high in manslaughter. The accused was therefore, found guilty and sentenced to 15 years by Judge Coffey.
I think the decision of the Judge was based on the previous acts of the defendant and therefore it was the Judge’s strategy to ensure that the defendant did not go scot-free. The juries who seemed to be taking notes regarding every fact were a true sign of judicial independency and representatives of the local community. The case I witnessed was not very easy to follow because there was need to prove beyond reasonable doubt. However, the medical practitioner who examined Mr. Paul’s body brought in signs of the defendant actions.
Judge Coffey looked firm and strict throughout the case and he appeared to be taking note of every fact and aspect of the proceedings. Perhaps the numerous effective arguments in the case affected the ultimate decision made by the judge. The case took a bit longer probably because the judge had a responsibility of explaining every decision in the layman’s language. Being a murder case, I was surprised at the simplicity of the facts presented at the case. The jury did not seem to sympathize with the accused right from the beginning of the case and this made it simple to determine the outcome of the case.
I have to admit that the proceedings of the case were very formal and looked serious because there was greater attention paid by every party concerned. Although the facts seemed simple and easy to me, it must have appeared too difficult to be followed by juries thus prompting the judge to make decision by himself. Generally, the courts are indeed very important institutions because of their efficiency in hearing and achieving accurate results. Judge Coffey was unshaken by the jury while analyzing the evidence that was provided by the doctor thus leading to punishment of a particular criminal.
The prosecution played an important role in attesting that the accused is accountable. The previous convictions of similar murder cases against the defendant added more weight to the evidence and was therefore, adduced in court against the defendant. However, I tend to think that this sum up to miscarriage of justice and further undermines the principle of presumption of innocence. I think there was suspicion created by the judge to the innocence of the suspect particularly when the judge highlighted past criminal records of the accused. I expected some fairness and that the most important thing in every case particularly criminal case was proving beyond reasonable doubt.
I think the judge did not give the defense lawyer enough time to defend his client. This made me feel that at times court proceedings do not even require lawyers especially when defendant is common figure in the court and has bad reputation or considered “guilty” even before hearing. It appeared that that hiring a lawyer by the defendant was just a formality and nothing much could have been done by the lawyer to defend his client. I think the legal system is very technical and tends to take care of previous injustices done by an individual. In that case, it is not possible for a frequent suspect to go scot free because the legal system will definitely trap the individual.