The way the criminal justice system works is a complicated interaction between the theoretical legal concepts found in textbooks and the real-world situations encountered in the courtroom. We must evaluate and estimate how the law as written relates to the law as practiced if we are to become future legal experts. In this setting, I had the chance to watch a particular sort of proceeding—bail hearings—and to examine them in light of the relevant literature, films, and course material (Berk et al., 2021). This comparative research seeks to respond to two pressing issues: the existence of a “Courtroom Workgroup” and the idea of “Assembly-Line Justice.”
I will first identify and explain the features of the courtroom workgroup as defined in the sources, relying on the literature, course material, and the movie we saw in class. After the bail sounds, I will evaluate my real-world compliances to see whether they confirm or deny the existence of such a workgroup. With reference to the relevant course material and the movie, I will simply define and explain assembly-line justice in the Assembly-Line Justice analysis (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2021). I will analyze the parallels and contrasts between the court processes I saw during the bail hearings and the description presented in the movie, offering evidence to support or refute the reality of assembly-line justice in practice.
Question 1: Do your observations support the existence of a “Courtroom Workgroup”? How were interactions different from/similar to that described in the text and shown in the film?
A “Courtroom Workgroup” is a term used to describe the informal coordination and cooperation among the key participants in judicial processes, such as judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and other courtroom staff. Together, these personalities enable the criminal justice system to operate efficiently. I had the chance to see numerous bail hearings during my compliances, and I saw some parallels between the relationships I saw and the portrayal of the courtroom workgroup in the texts and the movie. The course readings state that the courtroom workgroup typically establishes a feeling of mutual trust, comprehension, and shared objectives (Gaines & Miller, 2021). To expeditiously handle cases, they often participate in unofficial discussions and information exchanges. In the bail hearings I observed, the defense and prosecution counsel frequently engaged in casual conversations with the judge and each other, agitating various aspects of the case, such as the defendant’s history, the rigidity of the alleged offense, and the implied threat of flight. These unofficial connections mirrored the group’s unique teamwork and understanding in the courtroom.
The need of communication and information sharing within the courtroom workgroup was also emphasized in the course readings. This makes it possible for the system to run smoothly and facilitates the negotiation of plea deals and other types of verdicts. Additionally, during the bail hearings I attended, there were instances in which the defense counsel and prosecutors fabricated data that the court used to determine bond, such as the defendant’s prior criminal history or specific circumstances (Joyce & Laverick, 2022). These information exchanges facilitated decision-making and demonstrated the presence of a collaborative workgroup. It’s nevertheless vital to remember that my compliances also showed some deviations from the relationships that were discussed in the book and shown in the movie. Although the courtroom workgroup is typically portrayed as a cohesive team striving towards a single goal, I sometimes saw instances of pressure or conflict between the defense and prosecution teams. These disagreements mostly centered on the suggested bail amount or the bail conditions. Despite these discrepancies, the relationships generally showed a posture of collaboration and shared understanding that was consistent with the idea of the courtroom workgroup.
In conclusion, I think that the existence of a courtroom workgroup was obvious based on my compliances. I saw interactions between defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges, and these interactions showed aspects of cooperation, casual conversations, and information sharing that characterize the courtroom workgroup as it is described in the course materials. My compliances generally supported the concept of a courtroom workgroup operating inside the criminal justice system, even if there were some deviations from the idealized description.
Question 2: Do your observations support the notion of “Assembly-Line Justice”? How were court proceedings different from/similar to that shown in the film?
The term “Assembly- Line Justice” describes a system in which judicial proceedings are characterized by efficiency and speed, typically operating under standardized and efficient procedures that value the prompt resolution of cases above individualized justice. It is crucial to contrast the court procedures I saw with the concept of analogous proceedings in the movie and the relevant course material in order to establish if my observations are consistent with the idea of assembly-line justice (Berk et al., 2021). The fast-paced nature of court hearings and the condensed amount of time allotted to each case serve as examples of assembly-line justice in both the movie and the course materials. High volume case recycling is typically the emphasis, which results in a standardized method. Contrary to this notion, the court sessions I attended moved at a little slower pace, enabling more individualized attention to be given to each case.
I saw that the court, defense lawyers, and prosecutors spent their time discussing each defendant’s situation during the bail hearings. Before deciding on bail, they carefully took into account elements such as the defendant’s criminal past, relationships to the community, and implied flight danger. Unlike the simplified strategy shown in the movie, the discussions between the defense lawyers, prosecutors, and the court were more thorough and in-depth. The course readings also stressed the value of fairness and individualized justice within the criminal justice system (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2021). It emphasized the need of taking into account each defendant’s particular circumstances and making sure that their rights are upheld. Accordingly, the bail hearings I attended contained in-depth discussions regarding the prisoners’ antecedents, unique situations, and implied hazards to the community. In order to make well-informed choices on the terms of bail, the court carefully analyzed the information provided by the prosecution and defense.
The movie also showed how predictable judicial processes were, leaving little possibility for creativity or judgment. Contrarily, the bail hearings I saw showed a narrower scope of judicial power. The court used their discretion and judgment to decide on the appropriate bail terms based on the unique circumstances of each defendant. This showed a break from the assembly-line methodology, where problems are typically predetermined or defined. It’s crucial to acknowledge that certain features of the court processes matched the idea of assembly-line justice. The necessity for efficiency in case processing was shown by instances when several bail hearings were listed back-to-back (Joyce & Laverick, 2022). This could cause someone to think of a conveyor belt-like system. The level of debate and investigation of each instance was likewise constrained by time limits, but to a lesser amount than the film’s definition.
In conclusion, even though the court processes I watched included elements of assembly-line justice, such as time limits and cataloging effectiveness, the overall approach skewed more towards customized justice. The sessions gave judges room to use their discretion when setting bail terms, evaluate unusual situations, and have in-depth discussions. These compliances imply that the court processes I saw were not just motivated by the need for quick resolutions but also sought to strike a balance between efficiency and the pursuit of justice on a case-by-case basis.
Berk, R., Heidari, H., Jabbari, S., Kearns, M., & Roth, A. (2021). Fairness in criminal justice risk assessments: The state of the art. Sociological Methods & Research, 50(1), 3-44.
Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2021). Criminal justice in America. Cengage Learning.
Gaines, L. K., & Miller, R. L. (2021). Criminal justice in action. Cengage Learning.
Joyce, P., & Laverick, W. (2022). Criminal justice: An introduction. Taylor & Francis.