Prosecuting those who commit crimes is very important to the overall wellbeing of society and the citizens within society. Prosecuting and convicting criminals not only prevents them from committing another crime, it also serves as a deterrent to others that may be considering breaking the law. Many courts make up the judicial branch and these courts are responsible for applying laws made by the government. The courts are made up of courtroom workgroups that are the basis of the courts proceedings. The courtroom workgroup consists of the participants that work for the court. The workgroup is composed of the judge, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, public defenders, and others that work for the court, such as the clerk and the court reporter. The judge has overall control of the courtroom and the workgroup. The judge is responsible for keeping the order and deciding guilt or innocents of the accused. The courtroom workgroup interacts daily in many ways.
It is the responsibility of the judge to oversee all that goes on within the courtroom and ensure that rights are not violated as well as rule on each case that is put before them. The defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, and the public defenders, help paint a picture if you will for the judge of what happened. The judge then interprets the information he or she is given to determine guilt or innocence without bias ensuring that the accused receives a fair trial. The courtroom workgroup functions well, needing no major changes. The prosecutor has a very important role as a member of the courtroom workgroup. The prosecutor may also be known as the district attorney, states attorney, or the commonwealth attorney (Schmalleger, 2011). The prosecutor is responsible for making and presenting the case of the state against the accused. In their own way the prosecutor speaks on behalf of the people, for the law or laws broken by the defendant.
The prosecutor can decide to accept a plea bargain, send the suspect to seek counseling or dismiss the case because of a lack of evidence before the case even goes to trial. Determining which cases to pursue depends on a number of things. According to Ginkowski (2011), deciding to pursue a case weighs heavily on whether there is enough evidence to convict the defendant. If there is not enough evidence the prosecutor will most likely dismiss the case. The prosecutor pursues many types of cases from child custody, drug cases, and especially cases in which they believe that someone is trying to manipulate a case for their own benefit (Ginkowski, 2011). The prosecutor would be more likely to focus on a hanis crime than they would be to focus on a crime that is less severe. Murder takes precedence over most other cases because taking another person’s life is one of the worst crimes that can be committed and the people do not want a person that commits such a crime on the streets.
Determining what would happen if the criteria for taking a case was more or less stringent is challenging. If the criteria for taking a case were more stringent a good amount of less offensive cases would slip through the cracks. The smaller cases would most likely not go to court at all resulting in depriving suspects of their rights to due process; as suspects have the right to a speedy trial just like every other citizen does. If the criteria for taking a case were less stringent more cases would go to trial causing a backup in the courts and ultimately violating suspect’s rights to a speedy trial. Whether the criterion for taking a case is more or less stringent the ultimately would result in the same outcome, a violation of due process. There is a fine line between the two and the prosecutor has the responsibility of keeping the balance between more stringent and less stringent criteria. The effects of the criminal justice funnel and the backlog of cases on the court system and the courtroom workgroup are detrimental to the pursuit of justice.
The University of Phoenix, Criminal Justice Funnel simulation (2011), explains that out of 1000 serious crimes known by police only 200 of them are cleared by arrest (this is caused by a lack of police and funding to actively pursue criminal cases), 70 are accepted by the prosecution, 60 cases go to trial. Out of those cases that are prosecuted, 50 suspects plea or are found guilty and only 30 criminals are incarcerated. The funnel lives up to its name in this instance resulting in a stagnation of all proceedings until the previous case is resolved. This interpretation of the criminal justice system reveals that all criminals do not end up receiving correctional application because of multiple factors occurring between point A and point B. Point A being when the individual is processed ad it becomes necessary to try them in the justice system, point B being when the accused appears in court for trial and is found guilty.
The court system feels the stress from the funnel’s effect in two ways: affectivity and speed. An effective trial of individuals is key because evidence may become null and void, persons may become hesitant to testify, or any number of other factors. The system’s speed is deterred greatly as well, mostly due to the buildup of cases. This unintentional occurrence causes suspects to be stuck waiting for their cases to go to trial for months, or even years. The courtroom workgroup is affected by the criminal justice funnel by causing them to continually go back and forth between the same cases. The only solution that could help eliminate the funnel and reduce the backlog of cases is to increase the number of courts and courtroom workgroups. This is great in theory, but the reality is that to increase the number of employees would take more from each states budget, which are already strapped because of the economic problems that this country is faced with today.
The courtroom workgroup is made up of many people, whose role in the preceding is vital to the outcome of every trial or hearing. The prosecutor is one of the two most important people in the courtroom workgroup as the prosecutor builds the case against the defendant. If the prosecutor fails to paint the picture of what occurred for the judge or jury it would result in the criminal getting away with whatever crime they committed, and in that case justice will not prevail. The judicial system is responsible for ensuring that justice prevails, and it has been shown that justice is not always possible and many factors may cause that.
Ginkowski, R. A. (2011, Dec). From the Trenches: Screening cases. Criminal Justice, Vol 26 (issue 2), 21-21p. Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text Schmalleger, F. (2011). Criminal Justice Today. An Introductory Text for the 21st Century (11th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database. University of Phoenix. (2011). The Criminal Justice Funnel [Multimedia]. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, CJA204 website.