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In the courtroom

The number of the days you work as a juror and your working hours depend on the jury selection system in the county in which you live. Working hours may also be varied by the judge to accommodate witnesses coming from out of town or for other reasons.

Regardless of the length of your working day, one thing that may strike you is the amount of waiting. For example, you may have to wait a long while before you are called for a jury panel. You also may be kept waiting in the jury room during trial while the judge and the lawyers settle a question of law that has come up.

This waiting may seem like a waste of time to you and also may make it seem as if the court system isn't working very well. In reality, however, there are good reasons for the waiting you do both before and during trial

Your having to wait before trial is important for the efficient operation of the system, Because there are many cases to be heard and because trials are expensive, judges encourage people to come to an agreement in their case before trial. These agreements, called settlements, can occur at any time, even a few minutes before the trial is scheduled to begin. This means that it is impossible to know exactly how many trials there will be on a particular day or when they will start. Jurors are kept waiting, therefore, so that they are immediately available for the next case that goes to trial.

Your waiting during trial helps assure the fairness of the proceedings. You will remember that the jurors decide the facts and that the judge decides the law. If you are sent out of the courtroom during trial, it is probably because a legal issue has come up that must be decided before more evidence can be presented to you. You are sent out because the judge decides that you should not hear the discussion about the law, because it might interfere with your ability to decide the facts in an impartial way. Sometimes the judge will explain why you were sent out, but sometimes he may not be able to do so. Please be assured, however, that these delays during trial, explained or not, are important to the fairness of the trial.

In any case, judges and personnel do whatever they can to minimize the waiting before and during trial Your understanding is appreciated.


Kinds of cases

Civil Cases Civil cases are usually disputes between or among private citizens, corporations, governments, government agencies, and other organisations. Most often, the party bringing the suit is asking for money damages for some wrong that has been done. For example, a tenant may sue a landlord for failure to fix a leaky roof, or a landlord may sue a tenant for failure to pay rent People who have been injured may sue a person or a company they feel is responsible for the injury.

The party bringing the suit is called the plaintiff; the party being sued is called the defendant There may be many plaintiffs or many defendants in the same case,

The plaintiff starts the lawsuit by filing a paper called a complaint, in which the case against the defendant is stated, The next paper filed is usually the answer, in which the defendant disputes what the plaintiff has said in the complaint. The defendant may also feel that there has been a wrong committed by the plaintiff, in which case a counterclaim will be filed along with the answer. It is up to the plaintiff to prove the case against the defendant. In each civil case the judge tells the jury the extent to which the plaintiff must prove the case. This is called the plaintiff's burden of proof, a burden that the plaintiff must meet in order to win. In most civil cases the plaintiff's burden is to prove the case by a preponderance of evidence, that is, that the plaintiff's version of what happened in the cast1 is more probably true than not true.

Jury verdicts do not need to be unanimous in civil cases. Only ten jurors need to agree upon a verdict if there are 12 jurors: five must agree if there are six jurors.

Criminal CasesA criminal case is brought by the state or by a city or county against a person or persons accused of having committed a crime. The state, city, or county is called the plaintiff; the accused person is called the defendant. The charge against the defendant is called an information or a complaint. The defendant has pleaded not guilty and you should presume the defendant's innocence throughout the entire trial unless the plaintiff proves the defendant guilty. The plaintiff's burden of proof is greater in a criminal case than in a civil case. In each criminal case you hear the judge will tell you all the elements of the crime that the plaintiff must prove; the plaintiff must prove each of these elements beyond reasonable doubt before the defendant can be found guilty.

In criminal cases the verdict must be unanimous, that is, all jurors must agree that the defendant is guilty in order to overcome the presumption of innocence.

Napoleon's Law

The laws of much of continental Europe (particularly France), of Quebec in Canada, and of much of Latin America along with the civil laws of Louisiana owe their modern form largely to the work of a man who never even studied law. Napoleon Bonaparte, the Corsican soldier who became emperor of France after the French Revolution, established in 1800 five commissions to refine and organise the diverse legal systems of France. The result, enacted in 1804, was the Napoleon's Code.

Some of its original 2,281 articles were drafted by Napoleon himself, and all were affected by his thinking, even though he was completely self-taught in legal matters. The code was a triumphant attempt to create a legal system that treated all citizens as equals without regard to their rank or previous privileges. It was also so clearly written that it could be read and understood by ordinary people at a time when only Latin scholars could make sense of the earlier laws handed down since Roman times. The code was adopted intact in most of the areas of Europe that Napoleon dominated and spread from there across the Atlantic, taking root particularly in French-speaking American communities. Many of its principles are still in force today.



Punishment describes the imposition by some authority of a deprivation usually painful on a person who has violated a law, a rule, or other norm. When the violation is of the criminal law of society there is a formal process of accusation and proof followed by imposition of a sentence by a designated official, usually a judge. Informally, any organised group most typically the family, may punish perceived wrongdoers.

Because punishment is both painful and guilt producing, its application calls for a justification. In Western culture, four basic justifications have been given: retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation.

Most penal historians note a gradual trend over the last centuries toward more lenient sentences in Western countries. Capital and corporal punishment, widespread in the early 19th century, are seldom invoked by contemporary society. Indeed, in the United States corporal punishment as such appears to be contrary to the 8th Amendment's restrictions on cruel and unusual punishment Yet the rate of imprisonment in the United Slates appears to be growing. Furthermore, since the mid-1970s, popular and professional sentiment has taken a distinctly punitive turn and now tends to see retribution and incapacitation rather than rehabilitation as the goals of criminal punishment.

Criminal sentences ordinarily embrace four basic modes of punishment. In descending order of severity these are: incarceration, community supervision, fine, and restitution. The death penalty is now possible only for certain types of atrocious murders and treason.

Punishment is an ancient practice whose presence in modern cultures may appear to be out of place because it purposefully inflicts pain. In the minds of most people, however, it continues to find justification.


Scotland Yard

At first the new police force encountered little cooperation from the public, and when Scotland Yard stationed its first plainclothes police agents on duty in 1842, there was a public outcry against these 'spies'. The police force had gradually won the trust of the London public by the time Scotland Yard set up its Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in 1878. The CID was a small force of plainclothes detectives who gathered information on criminal activities. The CID was subsequently built up into the efficient investigative force that it now constitutes. It presently employs more than 1,000 detectives.

The area supervised by the London Metropolitan Police includes all of Greater London with the exception of the City of London, which has its own separate police force. The Metropolitan Police's duties are the detection and prevention of crime, the preservation of public order, the supervision of road traffic and

the licensing of public vehicles, and the organisation of civil defence in case of emergency.

The administrative head of Scotland Yard is the commissioner, who is appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Home Secretary. Beneath the commissioner are a deputy commissioner and four assistant commissioners, each of the latter being in charge of one of Scotland Yard's four departments; administration, traffic and transport, criminal investigation (the CID), and police recruitment and training. The CID deals with all aspects of criminal investigation and comprises the criminal records office, fingerprint and photography sections, the company fraud squad, a highly mobile police unit known as the flying' squad, the metropolitan police laboratory, and the detective-training school.

Scotland Yard keeps extensive files on all known criminals in the United Kingdom. It also has a special branch of police who guard visiting dignitaries, royalty, and statesmen. Finally, Scotland Yard is responsible for maintaining links between British law-enforcement agencies and Interpol. Although Scotland Yard's responsibility is limited to metropolitan London, its assistance is often sought by police in other parts of England, particularly with regard to difficult cases. The Yard also assists in the training of police personnel in the countries of the Commonwealth.



The British Police

The British police officer is a well-known figure to anyone who has visited Britain or who has seen British films. Policemen are to be seen in towns and cities keeping law and order, either walking in pairs down the streets ("walking the beat") or driving specially marked police cars. Once known as 'panda cars' because of their distinctive markings, these are now often jokingly referred to as 'jam sandwiches1 because of the pink fluorescent stripe running horizontally around the bodywork. In the past, policemen were often known as 'bobbies1 after Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the police force. Nowadays, common nicknames include 'the cops', 'the fuzz', 'the pigs', and 'the-Old Bill' (particularly in London). Few people realise, however, that the police in Britain are organised very differently from many other countries.

Most countries, for example, have a national police force which is controlled by central Government. Britain has no national police force, although police policy is governed by the central Government's Home Office. Instead, there is a separate police force for each of 52 areas into which the country is divided. Each has a police authority a committee of local county councillors and magistrates.

The forces co-operate with each other, but it is unusual for members of one force to operate in another's area unless they are asked to give assistance. This sometimes happens when there has been a very serious crime. A Chief Constable (the most senior police officer of a force) may sometimes ask for the assistance of London's police force, based at New Scotland Yard known simply as 'the Yard'.

In most countries the police carry guns. In Britain, however, this is extremely unusual Policemen do not, as a rule, carry firearms in their day-to-day work, though certain specialist units are trained to do so and can be called upon to help the regular police force in situations where firearms are involved, e.g. terrorist incidents, armed robberies etc. The only policemen who routinely carry weapons are those assigned to guard politicians and diplomats, or special officers who patrol airports.

In certain circumstances specially trained police officers can be armed, but only with the signed permission of a magistrate.

All members of the police must have gained a certain level of academic qualifications at school and undergone a period of intensive training. Like in the army, there are a number of ranks: after the Chief Constable comes the Assistant Chief Constable, Chief Superintendent, Chief Inspector, Inspector, Sergeant and Constable. Women make up about 10 per cent of the police force. The police are helped by a number of Special Constables members of the public who work for the police voluntarily for a few hours a week.

Each police force has its own Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Members of CIDs are detectives, and they do not wear uniforms. (The other uniformed people you see in British towns are traffic wardens. Their job is to make sure that drivers obey the parking regulations. They have no other powers it is the police who are responsible for controlling offences like speeding, careless driving and drunken driving.)

The duties of the police are varied, ranging from assisting at accidents to safeguarding public order and dealing with lost property. One of their main functions is, of course, apprehending criminals and would-be criminals.



Cesare Lombroso (18361909)

Professor Lombroso is a criminologist whose views, though not altogether correct, caused a lot of interest and made other people look into the problem of crime in a more scientific way. He is regarded as the father of the scientific study of criminals, or


Lombroso studied at the universities of Padua, Vienna, and Paris, and later he became a professor of psychiatry and forensic medicine, a director of a mental asylum.

In an enormous book called The Criminal, he set out the idea that there is a definite criminal type, who can he recognised by his or her appearance. Some of what he said is difficult to believe. For example, he said that left-handed persons have a criminal instinct. Among the things he considered important were the shape of the head, colour of the hair, the eyes, the curve of the chin and forehead and if the ears stick out

Lombroso's theories were widely influential in Europe for a time, but his emphasis on hereditary causes of crime was later strongly rejected in favour of environmental factors. Lombroso tried to reform the Italian penal system, and he encouraged more humane and constructive treatment of convicts through the use of work programs intended to make them more productive members of society.


Date: 2015-02-16; view: 3460

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