America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System by David Neubauer

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America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System by David Neubauer Powered By Docstoc
					             David W. Neubauer
             Henry F. Fradella


             Chapter Eighteen:
             The Lower Courts

Joe Morris • Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, LA
   Cherly Gary • North Central Texas College, Corinth, TX
Scope of the Lower Courts
• Felony criminal cases
  • Preliminary stages
• Nonfelony criminal cases
  • Misdemeanors
  • Ordinances
  • Traffic
• Civil cases
  • Typically decide disputes under a set dollar
Problems of the Lower Courts

•   Inadequate Financing
•   Inadequate Facilities
•   Lax Court Procedures
•   Unbalanced Caseloads
Rural Justice

• Lower Caseloads
  • Characterized by less violent crime
• Lack of resources
  • Creates risks for indigent defendants
• Familiarity
  • Greater emphasis on informal social control
Rural Justice

• Assessing Rural Justice
  • Comity
  • Injustices
     •   Capricious arrests
     •   Unduly high bonds
     •   Rubber-stamping prosecutorial decisions
     •   Pressuring defendants into guilty pleas
Justice of the Peace Courts

• Justice of the Peace
  • Small town
  • JP’s
     • part-time
     • non-lawyers
     • low salary
  • Abolition of the JP System
  • Upgrading the Quality of the Personnel
North v. Russell (1976)

• Non-Lawyer Judges
  • Justice Burger
    • Do not violate the due process clause of the
      Fourteenth Amendment
    • Do not deny equal protection
  • States are beginning to eliminate non-lawyer
Municipal Courts
• Urban counterparts to JP courts
• The Assembly Line
  • “Sausage Factories” or “Hurricanes of
• Speedy Disposition
  • No trials
  • No defense attorneys
• Defendants initial appearance is also final
Municipal Courts

• The Courtroom Workgroup
  • Encourages guilty pleas
  • Sanction uncooperative defendants
• Sentencing
  • Rapid decisions
  • Nature of event
  • Criminal record
Municipal Courts

• The Process is the Punishment
  • Feeley – New Haven
    • Process imposes a series of punishments on the
      accused prior to trial
       • Stay in jail
       • Pay a bail agent
       • Lose work/wages
Municipal Courts

• The Outcome is the Punishment
  • Ryan – Columbus
    •   Fines
    •   Jail sentences
    •   Treatment
    •   Loss of drivers license
Court-Community Collaboration

• Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Minor disputes between parties in ongoing
     • Children who annoy neighbors
     • Dogs who defecate on lawns
     • Neglected property
Court-Community Collaboration

• Community Dispute Settlement Centers
  • Mediation programs for minor civil and criminal
    matters in non-judicial settings
  • Avoids winner-takes-all philosophy
  • Typically private sponsored
  • San Francisco Community Boards Program
  • Dispute Settlement Center
    • Durham, North Carolina
Court-Community Collaboration

• Community Courts
  • Justice Community – refers to all those with a
    stake in the justice system
  • Efforts lead to focus on mediation of minor
  • These are government sponsored as opposed
    to privately funded
  • Best-known is Mid-Town Community Court in
Drunk Driving Enforcement
• Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
  • Pressure on legislatures
• Legislatures Passed Tough Drinking Laws
  • Raise drinking age to 21
  • Lower BAC from .15 to .08 for legal intoxication
  • Increasing jail penalties for repeat DUI
• What Do You Think?

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