Jesse James, a 20-year old, was arrested for killing a police officer. As a newly elected prosecutor, you are responsible for prosecuting Mr. James. You announce your decision not to seek the death penalty in this case, but under your state’s law, the offense charged is considered special circumstances, which would qualify as a death penalty case. Your decision does not sit well with the law enforcement community.
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Address the following in 900–1,200 words:
- List the various hearings that will typically occur and how the case is affected by each event.
- Provide an overview of the various courts in the typical state system where Mr. James will appear and why he is appearing there, from arraignment to trial and the various levels of appeal. Be sure to provide specific information as it relates to any constitutional issues that may be raised at each stage in the process.
- What are the potential hearings that might be involved in this case? Be sure to describe them from the time of arrest through appeal.
- What are the relevant civil liberties issues pertaining to the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments present in this case?
Special Circumstances Murder Case – Case of Jesse James Arrested for Killing Police Officer
In this particular case, Jesse is arrested for killing a police officer. His case is to be handled by a newly elected prosecutor Mr. James who considers seeking a death case penalty under special circumstances in the state law. Special circumstances murder refers to heinous crimes that are punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. One of these crimes in murdering a police officer to escape or prevent arrest or murdering a public safety officer when the officer is on duty. By killing a police officer, Jesse presented a circumstance under which he can be tried under special circumstance murder. However, the prosecutor needs to prove that Jesse killed the police officer either while performing his duty or to escape an arrest. This paper discusses Jesse prosecution and trial under special circumstances murder.
Hearings that will Typically Occur and how they affect the Case
The case will start by Jesse arraignment in court where the charges are read and the offender takes the plea to the case. This will be followed by preliminary hearing, which is a hearing that focuses on determining whether there is enough evidence to prosecute the accused. The pre-trial motions can include a judicial session with intention of deciding issues of law or fact, in some cases with witnesses testifying before trial (California Attorney General, n.d.). If enough evidence is found, the case will be submitted for the grand-jury review or filed in the trial court. This is followed by the guilty phase trial. This trial focuses on determining whether the offender is guilty of capital murder. The prosecutor should be able to prove that the accused is guilty of murdering a police officer either on duty or to resist arrest. The prosecutor will be permitted to provide evidence and witnesses to prove that the offender is guilty, while the defense lawyer will be permitted to present evidence and wittiness to refute the charges. The offender is allowed to defend himself in all possible ways. The prosecutor must be able to convince the jury that the defendant is guilty of committing first-degree murder and also prove that the crime committed is among the crimes covered by special circumstances and hence it warrants the death penalty. Once the offender is found guilty, then the trial goes to the next phase where the offender penalty is determined (California Attorney General, n.d.).
In the penalty phase, the jury reviews mitigating and aggravating evidence. The jury then gives a verdict of either life imprisonment without the chance of parole or death. The penalty phase is primarily like another mini-trial. The district attorney is permitted to offer testimony and evidence to support the argument that the death penalty is the most suitable punishment for the offense (California Attorney General, n.d.). The defense lawyer is also granted the chance to address the jury and to give testimony and evidence to persuade the jury to discard the death penalty request. Some of the aspects assessed to mitigate and aggravate the death penalty verdict include the crime nature, the case special circumstances, offender’s state of mind, past criminal record, a show of remorse, age at the time of committing the crime, and offender’s history of violence. In case a death verdict is returned, a trial judge is requested to determine if to reduce the judgment to life imprisonment without parole or to leave the verdict as it is (California Attorney General, n.d.).
The defendant can consider filing for an appeal if unsatisfied with the given verdict. In this phase, the defendant’s role is not to prove he is innocent but to show there was a critical mistake in the process in which he was convicted. The new trial motion can be based on jury misconduct, newly discovered evidence, or insufficient evidence in the first trial. These reasons can initiate a new trial. The appeal is admitted in the court of appeal, and in case the decision is still dissatisfactory, the appeal can be submitted to the highest criminal court in the state. This court is required to review the trial court decision and maybe reverse it (California Attorney General, n.d.).
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Courts Where Mr. James will Appear and Why?
Mr. James will appear in pre-trial, trial, and verdict trials in the state superior court. Here, Mr. James will focus on presenting the evidence, witnesses, and own input regarding the case, to convict the offender. Mr. James will also cross-examine the defendant’s witness and try to nullify their evidence in an attempt to prove the defendant guilty to the court. In case the Jesse is not satisfied with the trial court verdict, Jesse will appeal in the state court of appeal where the case will be reviewed (Georgetown Law, 2019). Mr. James will also appear here to defend his case against Jesse. Here Mr. James will hand in all evidence, testimonial reports, and other materials that can guide the appeal case in deciding on the validity of the initial verdict. In case Jesse is not satisfied by the court verdict, he may consider appealing to the Supreme Court. Mr. James will still appear in this court to defend his case against Jesse. As the case prosecutor, Mr. James will be required to defend his case by filing a state respondent brief answering the defendant briefs regarding the case (Georgetown Law, 2019).
Potential Hearing that might be Involve
There will be several hearings to take place in this case. The first will be a pre-trial hearing where the charges will be read and Jesse takes a plea. Mr. James will present his evidence to determine if there is enough evidence to initiate a trial. Mr. James should also declare his intention to make this a special circumstance case at this stage. This will be followed by the first trial hearing. The first trial will focus on determining whether the accused is guilty of first-degree murder of the police officer. It will also determine whether the case qualifies for a special circumstance (California Attorney General, n.d.). This will be followed by a penalty trial hearing where the verdict will be given. The fourth hearing will be in the appeal court is Jesse decides to file an appeal. The fifth hearing can be in the Supreme Court if the appeal court verdict is not satisfactory. In the Supreme Court, the defendant can also file a petition for a writ of certiorari which can provoke another hearing. The defendant can also file state habeas corpus review that may require another hearing. The number of hearing after the end of the initial trial will be determined by Jesse’s desire to overturn the initial judgment, and the far he can go in requesting reviews or filing for appeals (California Attorney General, n.d.).
Relevant Civil Liberties Issues about the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments
Jesse is arrested for the murder of a police officer. Mr. James will require to present evidence to prove Jesse is guilty. While looking for this evidence, Mr. James will be restricted by the 4th Amendment that protects Jesse from unnecessary search and seizures of his home, himself, and items. To collect any evidence from Jesse or any of his belonging through search and seizures, Mr. James will need a warrant from the court, failure to which he may lose the case through wrong procedure and violation of Jesse’s right to privacy. During Arrest, Jesse will have to be reminded of his right based on Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. Jesse will be permitted to record statement if he wishes, and his silence in any interrogation will be respected in connection to the Fifth Amendment (Grabel, 2020).
Jesse sixth Amendment rights will be protected through the pretrial reading of charges and taking a plea. He will also be offered the right to find a lawyer to defend himself through court trials. This will protect him from punishment without trial. Although the 8th Amendment is provoked in some cases, Jesse will find problems provoking his bail right due to the nature of his crime. In this regard, Jesse may remain in custody after arrest until his trials are over. However, the Amendment may protect him from cruel treatment such as electric shock treatment when in custody. Jesse will also have rights to due process of the law based on the 14th Amendment. This means he is protected by the law and has the right to make appeals and to request for all possible review of the case as provided by the country criminal justice system, especially for special circumstances case (Grabel, 2020).