In the United States citizens are given certain rights when they are accused of a crime and are facing a trial. They have the right to a speedy trial, this it to avoid a person being charged with a crime them spending a prolonged period incarcerated prior to conviction. They have the right to an impartial jury. Jurors are interviewed by both the prosecution and the defense to endure that the defendant is not known to them and that if the potential jurors do have any knowledge of the crime, gained via the media or sources other than personal knowledge. Defendants are also entitled to an impartial judge.
Judges are held to a higher standard that than of people in other jobs. They are required to put aside personal opinions and make decisions based solely on the facts as they are presented in court. The Right to a Speedy Trial The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution promises a person blamed of a crime the right to a speedy trial. The Founding Father of the United States added this amendment to the Constitution for two reasons. First they wanted to prevent those accused but not yet convicted of crimes from spending a long period of time incarcerated when they have not been
found guilty of it yet (Worrall, 2012). Second of the reasoning was the fear that if the trial was delayed the memories of witness could fade, witnesses themselves could disappear, and evidence could be lost. While both the prosecution and defense could be hurt by the second reason, the first is the most important as the defendant would be deprived of life, liberty, and ability to provide for themselves and their family (Worrall, 2012). JURY TRIAL ANALYSIS 3 In the People v. Romeo the defendant was a suspect in a 1985 murder.
He had been ordered to provide a DNA sample but before he was to appear and provide it he absconded to Canada. While in Canada he murdered a law enforcement officer during a routine traffic stop. Soon after committing that crime he returned to the U. S. and was taken into custody in Boston (Rowley, 2010). Romeo was detained in federal custody despite the fact being prosecuted for the crime in Canada, and was awaiting extradition. During that time his DNA was obtained, it was a match to evidence from the 1985 crime. On March 27, 1987 he was indicted for two counts of second degree murder.
Officials in Suffolk County New York requested that Romeo remain in the United States to face these charges (Rowley, 2010). April 1, 1987 Romeo invoked his right to a speedy trial, and made a formal request that he be arraigned and tried for these crimes immediately. On May 15 of that same year Canadian officials drafted a memo to Suffolk County administrators asserting that the agreement between the United States and Canada permitted Romeo to be sent back to the U. S. for his hearing there after his trial in Canada, even if he was convicted.
The letter did not say for sure that his return would be quick but it was encouraging to officials (Rowley, 2010). May 29 Romeo filed a motion, requesting that he be tried immediately. The court mistakenly believed that his Canadian trial would not interfere with his (Romero) right to a speedy trial and allowed him to be sent back to Canada to face the accusations there. Romeo was convicted in Canada and sentenced to twenty five years (Rowley, 2010). Officials of Suffolk County never requested that Romeo be returned to the United States to face his charges there.
Romeo, in 1999 submitted a motion to discharge the Suffolk County charges due to the fact that his requests, and rights, for a speedy trial were violated. This case JURY TRIAL ANALYSIS 4 was disputed and ended up in the Appellate Division in New York which agreed with him and his indictment was dismissed (Rowley, 2010). The Right to an Impartial Jury The Sixth Amendment also includes the right to trial by an impartial jury. It should be noted this right only applies to adults not juveniles. The jury pool should come from a cross section of the community and include persons of all races, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.
Potential jurors are subject to process of Voir Dire (Pettegrew, 1986). Attorneys for both sides are allowed to question these individuals to determine if any bias exists that could be detrimental to their case. Jurors are asked that if they have learned anything of the case from the media if they think they can put that information aside and consider only the information presented in court (Pettegrew, 1986). In Darden v. Wainwright (1986), the defendant appealed his conviction on three different circumstances, one of which was the one jury had been excluded from the jury due to their attitude regarding the death penalty.
Darden felt this deprived him of his right to an impartial jury. One juror, who was excluded, was not individually asked if they would be unable to recommend the death penalty for the case regardless of the facts that were presented in court (Darden v. Wainwright, 1986).
The grounds for Darden’s appeal were that the rest of the excluded jurors were asked the question individually. The entire jury pool had been asked by the judge if any of them had strong religious, conscientious, or moral opinions that they would be opposed to sentencing a person to death even if the case required such a sentence. This section of the appeal was denied as not factual (Darden v. Wainwright, 1986). The Right to an Impartial Judge JURY TRIAL ANALYSIS 5 Like the right to a speedy trial and the right to an impartial jury the right to an impartial judge is covered in the Sixth Amendment. A judge should be aware of their own connections to a case as well as any potential bias. A judge has the option of stepping down from a case. The judge is the leader in the courtroom and any bias they have could adversely affect the verdict.
Attorneys for both the defense and prosecution need to be safe from retribution when questioning a judge’s impartiality. While technically an attorney statement in court regarding a particular judge’s potential bias in a case should be protected by the First Amendment, many attorneys have felt punished for doing just that (Tarkington, 2011) (Worrall, 2012). It can be difficult to determine if a judge is truly impartial. Many judges are elected officials and as such may have political agendas that could potentially cause conflicts.
Even judges that are appointed may have supported who assisted with their appointment who might wish a judge would make a ruling in their favor, or in the favor of a cause they support (Tarkington, 2011) (Worrall, 2012). Conclusion The Sixth Amendment is an important piece of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, especially when a person is facing trial. These rights must be carefully protected in order for the court system to function as a just body. Importantly noted is that regardless of guilt or innocence, as citizens of the United States, individuals charged with breaking the law are entitled to the right to a speedy trial, right to and impartial jury, a and the right to an impartial judge.
JURY TRIAL ANALYSIS 6 References Darden v. Wainwright, 477 U. S. 168 (1986) Pettegrew, H. L. (1986). Sixth and Eight Amendments--Erosion of Defendant’s Right to an Impartial Jury and a Fundamentally Fair Trial. Journal Of Criminal Law & Criminology, 77(3), 796-820. Rowley, A. L. (2010). Court of Appeals of New York: People v. Romeo. Touro Law Review, 26(3), 907-923. Tarkington, M. (2011), Attorney speech and the right to an impartial Judge . The Review of Litigation, 30(4), 849-895. Worrall, John. (2012) “Criminal Procedure” From First Contact to Appeal, Fourth Addition. Published: Pearson Education.