October 18, 2012
Judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys or public defenders, court reporters, court clerks, bailiffs, all of these job titles belong to persons who work within our criminal justice system, specifically they belong to a courtroom work group. They are the people who run the courtrooms of the American justice system. They each make a contribution to the way cases are tried and criminals are brought to justice. Prosecutors bring the accused criminal to trial and work hard to ensure that as many cases as possible are prosecuted despite courtroom funneling and the tremendous backlog of cases that exist. There are many challenges within the court system, keeping the system fair while also ensuring a timely trial is a difficult task. The courtroom group consists of paid state and government professionals that work together for a common goal of bringing justice to the individuals that need it (Schmalleger, 2011). These professionals put a tremendous amount of time and energy into what they do on a daily basis and help provide the support the criminal justice system needs to stay balanced. These individuals include the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney, courtroom clerk, bailiff, court reporter, court interpreter and on occasion expert witnesses. The judge is the senior officer in the courtroom whose duty it is to make sure justice and fairness prevails in her or her courtroom, not only to the defendant but also to the victims. The judge hears the testimony from both parties and makes a ruling on the cases within the limits of the law. The judge maintains order and permits the prosecution and the defense attorneys to present their side of the case in court (Schmalleger, 2011). The prosecutor or district attorney is responsible for representing the state by initiating a legal case against the defendant. Evidence is presented by the district attorney that is obtained by an investigation of the accused, to file charges and convict them of the crime in question. The defense attorney or public defender is responsible for representing the defendant and making sure that throughout the trial process that his or her civil rights are not violated. Defense attorneys are hired by the defendant to represent them while public defenders represent the defendant at no cost to them and are appointed by the court if the defendant cannot afford an attorney (Schmalleger, 2011). The courtroom clerk is the glue that holds the courtroom together in criminal cases. He or she is responsible for maintaining the records in the courtroom, motions filed by both parties and changes of plea filed by the defendant (Schmalleger, 2011). The courtroom clerk is also responsible for keeping track of the jurors in the jury selection process. However, most important, the courtroom clerk is responsible for keeping good communication between court personnel and maintaining order in the courtroom. The bailiff announces the judge’s entry into the courtroom, makes sure the accused does not escape while on trial, and supervises the jury when they leave the courtroom to deliberate (Schmalleger, 2011). The court reporter’s role is to keep an accurate record of what is said in the courtroom. Any difference in opinion about what has been said or ordered in court can easily be verified by the court reporter who keeps a written transcript of everything said during a trial (Schmalleger, 2011). Expert witnesses are employees of the state with special skills and knowledge in their fields (Schmalleger, 2011). Expert testimony in fields like psychology, crime scene analysis, and ballistics are used to either support or discredit evidence presented. The courtroom clerk is the director of the courtroom. He or she keeps in constant communication with the judge and the attorneys that are involved with the case. Through the different trials the courtroom work group works together to make sure that...
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