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Published: Fri, 02 Feb 2018

Contemporary decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court

Chapter 7

2. In what ways have contemporary decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court modified the original meaning of the Sixth Amendment? Is the original intent of the Sixth Amendment relevant in today’s world?

Today’s Speedy & Public Trial

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution states “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” The right to a speedy and public trial was intended to minimize the advantage of prosecutors over the public in matters of law criminal procedure. In today’s world, the Supreme Court has deduced the amendment to mean that in federal courts, counsel must be provided for indigent defendants unable to commission their own counsel. “In Faretta v. California, the Supreme Court held that an accused who “competently and intelligently” decides to forego his right to be represented by counsel is entitled to conduct his own defense without having a lawyer forced upon him against his will” (Gardner, 2000). Some major cases that have affected the change of the Sixth Amendment have been Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963 and Escobedo v. Illinois in 1964. These cases brought up questions in the meaning on the Sixth Amendment. In Gideon v. Wainwright, Gideon was charged in a Florida state court with a felony for breaking and entering. He lacked funds and was unable to hire a lawyer to prepare his defense. When he requested the court to appoint an attorney for him, the court refused, stating that it was only obligated to appoint counsel to indigent defendants in capital cases. Gideon defended himself in the trial; he was convicted by a jury and the court sentenced him to five years in a state prison. The state court’s failure to appoint counsel for Gideon violated his right to a fair trial and due process of law as protected by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. In Escobedo v. Illinois, Danny Escobedo was arrested and taken to a police station for questioning. Over several hours, the police refused his repeated requests to see his lawyer. Escobedo’s lawyer sought unsuccessfully to consult with his client. Escobedo subsequently confessed to murder. Escobedo was denied the right to counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment and because of this, Escobedo had not been adequately informed of his constitutional right to remain silent rather than to be forced to incriminate himself. “The Supreme Court’s modern Sixth Amendment jurisprudence has undermined the practical import of the right to counsel in the interrogation context by undervaluing the attorney-client relationship itself” (Holland, 2009, p. 381).

Holland, B. (Spring 2009). A relational Sixth Amendment during interrogation.  Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 99, 2. p.381(54). Retrieved November 22, 2010, from Academic OneFile via Gale:

Gardner, Martin R. (2000). The Sixth Amendment right to counsel and its underlying values: defining the scope of privacy protection. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.

Chapter 8

4. Recognize major changes in the composition of the bench over the past several decades.

Changes in the Bench

The Supreme Court bench has gone through some major changes over the past several decades. Minorities are being more accepted to the role of justice and continuing the American history and tradition. Over time a significant number of women have been selected to sit on the Supreme Court bench. There have been a few women so far to serve in the Supreme Court judicial bench. Sandra Day O’Conner served from 1981 to 2005 and in 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the oath for Supreme Court Justice. President Barack Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elana Kagan in 2010. Sotomayor would also be the first Hispanic to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court bench. The first African-American to take the oaths of office as a Supreme Court Justice was Thurgood Marshall in 1967. All of these changes help to make the Supreme Court bench diverse and fair to American people. With its start in 1790, the Supreme Court established its power to interpret the U.S. Constitution and to determine the constitutionality of laws passed by congress and the state legislatures. In its entire history, the Supreme Court has had only 16 Chief Justices, and over 100 Associate Justices. Among the Justices there was one president. William H. Taft, seven years after serving as the 27th U.S. president, was appointed chief justice in 1921. Samuel Chase was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by the Senate in 1805. Salmon P. Chase was on the now-defunct $10,000 bill in 1918. Charles Evans Hughes served two separate terms. He resigned in 1916 to run for the presidency and was then reappointed in 1930. Among the Justices there have been six justices appointed to the first U.S. Supreme Court under the Judiciary Act of 1789. There have been seven people of Jewish religious views. The first was Louis Brandeis, confirmed in 1916. There have been nine justices who have comprised the Supreme Court every year since 1869, when Congress fixed the number of justices. There have been ten Roman Catholics. The first was Roger Taney, confirmed in 1836. There have been fourteen justices from New York, the most of any state. Seventeen of them have resigned from their seats for reasons other than retirement and forty-eight have died while serving an active term. Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the President of the United States. The Justices serve until they retire, die or are impeached.  The average tenure for Justices is about 15 years, with a new Justice being appointed to the Court about every 22 months. The election of women and minorities into the federal judiciary still falls at a low compared to the two thirds of the judiciary compromised of white men but has show great increase throughout history. “Today, the Federal Judicial Center (2009) reports that of the 1298 sitting federal judges, 248 are woman, 109 are African-American, 72 are Hispanic, 11 are Asian American and 1 is Native-American.” As time goes on, the federal judiciary and the U.S. Supreme Court will continue to grow stronger and united as the intentions were of the founding fathers.

History by the numbers: U.S. Supreme Court justices.  June 2004 v39 i2 p58(1)American History, 39, 2. p.58(1). Retrieved November 25, 2010, from Academic OneFile via Gale:

Neubauer, David, & Fradella, Henry. (2010). American courts. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.

Chapter 9

4. Discuss the prior relationships between defendants and victims and why this is important in domestic violence cases.

Domestic Violence Relationships

Prior relationships between defendants and victims are extremely important. These relationships influence the crimes that defendants commit. Domestic violence cases are solely based on the type of association the victim has with the offender. Nearly half of victims have an idea of who the suspect is. Victims can be targeted because of their associations but this also gives police and prosecutors a greater advantage to taking justice and catching and punishing the offender. Also not all domestic violence cases include battery or assault towards the victim but due to the relationship between the offender and the victim. Crimes between known person are treated as less serious offenses than crimes by strangers. About half of all violent crimes are committed by someone who is a relative, friend, or acquaintance. Men are more likely than women to experience violent victimization and violence against women is almost always committed by an intimate partner or ex-intimate partner. “Measuring violence between intimate partners is difficult because it often occurs in private and victims are reluctant to report incidents to anyone because of shame or fear of reprisal” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010, p. 218). Often times the victimized woman does not wish to press charges in domestic violence cases against the related defendant in fear of retaliation. They also tend to overlook the domestic incident and many times domestic violence will occur again.

Neubauer, David, & Fradella, Henry. (2010). American courts. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.

Chapter 10

3. List the four ways that criminals are formally charged in court and the major actors in each of these important documents.

Formally Charged

Criminals are formally charged in court in four ways and major factors affect these important documents. “The criminal court process begins with the filing of a formal written accusation alleging that a specified person or persons committed a specific offense or offenses” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010, p. 240. Defendants in violation of a criminal law can be charged in court by a complaint signed by the victim. A complaint is filed by the victim and reported to a law enforcement officer. A bill of information filed by the prosecutor is also like a complaint. “It is required in felony prosecutions in most states that do not use the grand jury. In grand jury states, an information is used for initiation felony charges pending grand jury” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010, p. 241). Another way to charge a defendant in criminal court is through an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant is issued by a judicial officer such as a lower-court judge most of the time is issued after the arrest has been made by police. Because there is probable cause and evidence to support the filing of criminal charges through a sworn affidavit, police are authorized to arrest and detain the individuals named in the warrant. Finally, a true bill of indictment is a written decision filed by a grand jury that it has heard sufficient evidence from the prosecution to believe that an accused person probably committed a crime and should be indicted.

“Which one is use depends on the severity of the offense, applicable state law, and local customs” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010, p. 241).

Neubauer, David, & Fradella, Henry. (2010). American courts. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.

Chapter 11

2. In what ways do crime control model advocates approach bail differently than do backers of due process model values?

Bail: Crime Control v. Due Process

Crimes control advocates approach bail differently than supporters of the due process model. Crime control model refers to a theory of criminal justice which places emphasis on reducing the crime in society through increased police and prosecutorial powers. Therefore, “Supporters of the crime control model stress that bail should be used to protect society. They focus on defendant’s who are likely to commit additional crimes while out on bail” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010, p. 261). In contrast, the due process model focuses on individual liberties and rights and is concerned with limiting the powers of government. “Adherents of the due process model stress that the only purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant appears in court for trial. The basis of this view is the promise of the adversial system that a person is innocent until proven guilty and therefore should not suffer any hardships, such as a stay in jail, while awaiting trial” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010, p. 261). It is a constant battle between the two views and when it comes to bail, it is no different. I support the crime control and agree bail is to protect society. “Bail reform based on the due process model of justice seeks to make the process fairer for defendants by proving 10 percent bail deposit and pretrial service programs. By contrast, bail reform based on the crime control model of criminal justice is concerned with pretrial crimes and stresses the need for preventative detention” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010, p. 276).

Neubauer, David, & Fradella, Henry. (2010). American courts. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.

Chapter 12

3. Identify the types of evidence subject to mandatory criminal discovery.

Exculpatory Evidence

Evidence subject to mandatory criminal discovery is exculpatory evidence. Exculpatory evidence is any evidence that may be favorable to the defendant at trial either by tending to mitigate the defendant’s guilt to by tending to mitigate the defendant’s culpability, thereby potentially reducing the defendant’s sentence” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010, p. 282). Examples of evidence include surveillance tapes from a convenience store robbery. Exculpatory is applied to evidence which may justify or excuse an accused defendant’s actions, and which will tend to show the defendant is not guilty or has no criminal intent. Failure to disclose any exculpatory evidence can result in the dismissal of a case. “Prosecutors are under a legal and ethical obligation to present exculpatory evidence in their possession to the grand jury so that it can make an independent judgment of probable cause” (Neely, 2002, p. 171). The validity of a guilty plea has been argued when exculpatory evidence is not known to the accused at the time of the plea. The Supreme Court has held that due process does not require the disclosure of material exculpatory impeachment information before a defendant enters into a plea bargain.

“Evidence is material only if there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different” (Jaworksy, 2002, p. 249).

Jaworsky, Todd. (2002). Defendant’s Right to Exculpatory Evidence: Does the Constitutional Duty to Disclose Exculpatory Evidence Extend to New Evidence Discovered Post-Conviction. 15 St. Thomas L. Rev. 264

Neely, S. R. (Wntr 2002). Preserving justice and preventing prejudice: requiring disclosure of substantial exculpatory evidence to the grand jury.  American Criminal Law Review, 39, 1. p.171(29). Retrieved November 26, 2010, from Academic OneFile via Gale:

Neubauer, David, & Fradella, Henry. (2010). American courts. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.

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