Mark Davis has been charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) for reckless driving, speeding, four counts of felony assault, and one count of involuntary manslaughter as the result of a crash that occurred on a night out with his friends. Mark has been out on bail and pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned. The Judge set a date for Mark’s trial and his defense team has been working to collect information about the technology used by the Highway Patrol to reconstruct the crash.
District Attorney O’Malley offered Mark a plea bargain, but Mark chose to take his chances at trial. Mark’s attorney, Mr. Chen Long, advised Mark that accepting the plea offer was completely up to Mark, although Mr. Long advised against accepting it because the defense planned to highlight mistakes made by law enforcement during the investigation that could create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.
The trial begins and during the voir dire of potential jurors, several individuals are excused because they have previous knowledge of Mark’s case from the media. Two individuals stated that they could not be impartial because they had loved ones killed in alcohol related crashes as well. Eventually, two men and ten women were seated in Mark’s trial.
District Attorney O’Malley presented the State’s case clearly and concisely depicting a night on the town full of heavy drinking, which ultimately resulted in Mark’s actions causing the death of one individual and injuring four others. Highway Patrolman Green explained to the jury that he immediately suspected alcohol when he arrived on scene because Mark appeared to be intoxicated when they spoke. Following the Judge ruling that it was admissible and not prejudicial, Sergeant Rodney Monroe, from the Highway Patrol Reconstruction Team presented their reconstruction complete with a high-tech computer animated reenactment of the crash. During the cross examination, Defense Attorney Long challenged the reconstruction because the Defense Crash Reconstruction Expert had discovered errors in the mathematical calculations for vehicle speed. The jury appeared to have liked the reconstruction very much regardless of the errors highlighted by the defense.
Mark was convicted of DWI, four counts of felony assault, and one count of involuntary manslaughter; however, he was acquitted of reckless driving and speeding. The Jury said they could not convict Mark of those offenses because of the mistakes made by law enforcement officers during the investigation.
Because Mark pleads not guilty, but was convicted during trial and had two prior DWI offenses, he was sentenced to ten years in the State Prison. Defense Attorney Long immediately notified the court of an impending appeal that would be filed by the defendant. In a report, using external sources to support your claims, answer the following:
- Compare and contrast the roles of the Judge, Jury, District Attorney (Prosecutor), and Defense Attorney. What are their primary functions and purposes in the courtroom Workgroup?
- Discuss the rights of the defendant in your state during the trial phase of the criminal justice process.
- Discuss the rights of the victims and/or their families in your state during the pre-trial and trial phase of the criminal justice process. Would it be unusual for the family of a deceased victim to become angered by a slow criminal justice process or one where they are not permitted by law to be given information about the facts or evidence in the case by the District Attorney’s Office before the trial?
- Compare and contrast plea-bargaining versus going to trial. Historically, opponents to plea bargains have claimed that they are used to alleviate heavy workloads of prosecutors (district attorneys). Prosecutors argue that plea-bargaining is a necessary part of the criminal justice process for several reasons. Where is the future of the criminal justice process headed in this regard?
- Analyze how the Highway Patrol’s computer animated reenactment might have related to the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) effect in the courtroom.
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