Searches and Seizures

The USA Patriot Act has its pros and cons, but is more ridiculous than anything. The Act goes too far by invading the privacy of citizens. Those records that are collected from e-mail, telephone, financial records, and so on are personal, and I feel there's no reason to look into such details. The Patriot Act in unconstitutional for many reasons, such as, it goes against HIPAA and rights to a speedy trial in some instances. The government should have certain ways of obtaining information for anti-terrorism, but this Act certainly is not legitimate, and should be severely revised.

Miranda v. Arizona (or Ernesto Arturo Miranda v. State of Arizona) — In the 1960's, an effort to provide criminals with legal aid was moved along with help from many 'Bar Associations. ' In March 1963, Miranda was arrested for the kidnapping and rape of an 18 year old female, and later he confessed to robbery and attempted rape when he was interrogated by police. He was later found guilty and punished 20-30 years for each charge. Later Miranda had stated he did not request aid but his lawyer appealed the decision.

The US Supreme Court's former prosecutor, Chief Justice Earl Warren, said that Miranda's confession was not accepted for the fact that he admitted to the crime under 'forcible' interrogation. The former prosecutor said this went against the fifth and sixth amendments– 5: self-incrimination clause, 6: right to an attorney unless the suspect had been made aware of their rights and they waive those rights. The original verdict had been overruled and had informed them about what had to happen if the suspect chose to exercise their rights. I believe the Miranda warnings have been portrayed accurately.

An example of a case that may be eroding Miranda would be the 1997 case involving Charles Dickerson, who was arrested by the FBI for robbing a Virginia bank. When they arrested the suspect, they failed to read him his rights. In Dickerson v. United States, the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional by reaffirming Miranda. The jury selection involves the judge and attorneys questioning a group in order to find twelve jurors that would be good to deliberate on a case. Opening Statements are given by the prosecution and defense, and state what the attorneys believe to be true and what they hope to prove in the case.

Presentation of Evidence involves witness testimonies and exhibits and physical evidence such as photographs. Both sides may examine each witness in order to 'elicit evidence'. Closing Arguments are left to persuade the judge and jury. Once again, each side is allowed to state their opinions in the case, and attempt to convince them. Jury Deliberations is when the jury exits the courtroom and comes to a final verdict about the case. In Texas, the process is different in a few aspects. There are about 11 different stages involved. The first is to impanel a jury after a 'voir dire' examination.

Next the information is read to the jury, and after this the defendant enters a plea. Opening statements are then presented by each side. Testimony is offered on part of the state, then the defense. Each side then has the chance to contradict each others testimony. Then the court's charge is read to the jury. At this time, each side has their opportunity to debate the charge(s). If the defendant is found not guilty, the case ends. If they are unable to come to a verdict, or there is a 'hung jury', the trial is dismissed, and the defendant may be retried at a later date.

If the defendant is found guilty the case moves to a punishment phase. If the court reaches the punishment phase, the judge picks the punishment, unless the defendant requests the jury decides, or the state seeks the death penalty. Personally, I prefer the Illinois process, because it is simple and to the point. It gives both sides a chance to explain themselves, and a chance for any and all evidence to be presented in the trial. I would be much more comfortable as an attorney in the Illinois court system since there's more of a chance for my voice to be heard.