CJ Chapter 8
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Courtroom Work Group
The professional courtroom actors, including judges, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, public defenders, and others who earn a living serving the court.
An elected or appointed public official who presides over a court of law and who is authorized to hear and sometimes to decide cases and to conduct trials.
An attorney whose official duty is to conduct criminal proceedings on behalf of the state or the people against those accused of having committed criminal offenses.
The decision making power of prosecutors, based on the wide range of choices available to them, in the handling of criminal defendants, the scheduling of cases for trial, the acceptance of negotiated pleas, and so on. The most important form of prosecutorial discretion lies in the power to charge, or not to charge, a person with an offense.
Any information having a tendency to clear a person of guilt or blame.
A licensed trial lawyer, hired or appointed to conduct the legal defense of a person accused of a crime and to represent him or her before a court of law.
An attorney employed by a government agency or subagency, or by a private organization under contract to a government body, for the purpose of providing defense services to indigents, or an attorney who has volunteered such service.
The court officer whose duties are to keep order in the courtroom, to secure witnesses, and to maintain physical custody of the jury.
A person who has special knowledge and skills recognized by the court as relevant to the determination of guilt or innocence. Unlike lay witnesses, expert witnesses may express opinions or draw conclusions in their testimony.
An eyewitness, character witness, or other person called on to testify who is not considered an expert. Lay witnesses must testify to facts only and may not draw conclusions or express opinions.
A written order issued by a judicial officer or grand jury requiring an individual to appear in court and to give testimony or to bring material to be used as evidence. Some subpoenas mandate that books, papers, and other items be surrendered to the court.
Victim Assistance Program
An organized program that offers services to victims of crime in the areas of crisis intervention and follow-up counseling and that helps victims secure their rights under the law.
A member of a trial or grand jury who has been selected for jury duty and is required to serve as an arbiter of the facts in a court of law. Jurors are expected to render verdicts of "guilty" or "not guilty" as to the charges brought aginst the accused, although they may sometimes fail to do so (as in the case of a hung jury).
Change of Venue
The movement of a trial or lawsuit from one jurisdiction to another or from one location to another within the same jurisdiction. A change of venue may be made in a criminal case to ensure that the defendent receives a fair trial.
Rules of Evidence
The court rules that govern the admissibility of evidence at crimnal hearings and trials.
The two-sided structure under which American criminal trial courts operate that pit the prosecution against the defense. In theory, justice is done when the more effective adversary is able to convince the judge or jury that his perspective on the case is the correct one.
Speedy Trial Act
A 1974 federal law requiring that proceedings against a defendant in a criminal case begin within a specified period of time, such as 70 working days after indictment. Some states also have speedy trial requirements.
The process whereby, according to law and precedent, members of a particular trial jury are chosen.
Scientific Jury Selection
The use of correlational techniques from the social sciences to guage the likelihood that potential jurors will vote for conviction or for aquittal.
The right to challenge a potential juror without disclosing the reason for the challenge. Prosecutors and defense attorneys routinely use peremptory challenges to eliminate from juries indviduals who, although they express no obvious bias, are thought to be capable of swaying the jury in an undesirable direction.
A jury that is isolated from the public during the course of a trial and throughout the deliberation process.
The initial statement of the prosecution or the defense, made in a court of law to a judge, or to a judge and jury, describing the facts that he or she intends to present during trial to prove the case.
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