The judicial system is one that continues to change and evolve with time. Although the judicial system of the United States of America has changed for the better as opposed to when it was first established, there are quite a number of issues that administrators in the criminal court system face today (Christopher, 2005). Throughout this case study, I will bring forth these issues as well give a court proceeding of Casey Anthony who I feel was unfairly judged.
One of the issues the criminal courts face today is the question of whether or not the judicial structure is effective due to the arising issues of language barriers. How can one legally understand their rights if they don’t understand what’s being communicated to them? Can one protect or explain themselves if they are unable to converse? The answer is simply no.
From my court observations I conducted, I decided to watch the Casey Anthony trial which started on May 23, 2011 and determined on July 6, 2011 in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is at the head of federal courts in the United States and its major task is to make final decision when dealing with the federal judiciary process and is structured to hear cases in three dimensions, original jurisdiction, appeals from state supreme courts and appeals from circuit courts. Original Jurisdiction which is the least public is where the Supreme Court hear cases directly and no other supreme court is needed to hear the case giving the Supreme Court special jurisdiction. The other two ways of presenting a case to the Supreme Court is through appeals by either the circuit courts which is the most common or a state Supreme Court which does happen comes about when constitutional law is in question, however the Supreme Court will rarely challenge the ruling of a state’s Supreme Court unless considered necessary (Robert, 1997).
Casey Anthony’s trial was long because of the amount of evidence acknowledged and the large number of witnesses called to bear witness for both the defense and the prosecution. I am absolutely sure everyone knew something about the case, but what I witnessed watching the actual trial was awful, to say the least. This case jerked at my heart because a mother, Casey Anthony, was being accused of killing her own daughter. Her daughter was 2-year by the name Caylee Anthony.
The case drew countrywide attention because of the ghastly facts and because of the pack of lies that Casey told the police authorities and investigators. The in-depth search by numerous agencies and private citizens to find clues kept the case in the media spotlight. In fact, I pondered how fair the trial would be due to the volume of national coverage the case really received. I found myself going into the trial with already formed opinions about Casey’s accountability. As such, I was very anxious to actually lookout the proceedings and see the facts as presented in the courtroom versus the national media.
The opening arguments by the prosecutor set the stage for what was to come. The prosecutor stated: “It’s now the time to tell the story of a little young girl named Caylee Anthony.” From there she went on to describe in detail this 2-year Old’s life with her grandparents, who adored her and her mother who seemed more concerned with her own “fictitious” life than the welfare of her own daughter. As the prosecutor explained the details of Caylee’s life, the perpetrator, Casey Anthony, had a collection of facial expressions including shaking her head when she disagreed with something and some occasional crying moments. Other than that she had a straight face during most of the two hour opening statement seemingly un-phased by the facts being presented by the prosecution.
As the prosecutor continued to speak about Caylee’s biography with her grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony, a video was played showing George devastated by the demise of his granddaughter. I could deduce it was not easy for him to sit and remember all the happy moments he shared with Caylee. Cindy Anthony had her head concealed in her chest for most of the opening arguments. When the prosecutor mentioned Cindy and George I could tell it was painful for them as the spectators looked at them with accusing eyes. Casey continued to sit without any emotion.
When it was the Defense’s turn to render their opening statement, the mood of the respondent switched to being much more emotional. She was continually crying. It seemed very much staged to me. The prosecuting team would murmur to themselves while eavesdropping and the audience looked very intense (Robert, 1997).. The overall mood of the courtroom was reasonably very gloomy.
This case continued for 2 months and during that time many witnesses were inspected and cross-examined. For purposes of this study, I chose to watch the testimony of the grandparents, who had the closest connection to the Caylee. The prosecution’s questioning of these two witnesses was pretty straight forward. Nevertheless, when the defense attorney, Jose Bias, asked George Anthony questions, there were times that everyone became irritated. George Anthony was recurrently asked similar questions again and again. This led to objections by the prosecution and led to a feeling of frustration and annoyance by those watching and participating. I noticed at certain times the defense attorney even became aggressive towards the witness and gave him cynical smiles. This made the feel of the courtroom slightly unfriendly (David and Stephen, 2012).
When Cindy Anthony was called to the witness stand everything became very emotional. The prosecution and the defense were polite in asking her questions and the evictor was very kind in how she helped Cindy up to the stand. It was a much more understanding approach as opposed to the antagonistic tactic used when George Anthony was being questioned.
When the final verdicts were read, I was shocked to see all the faces in the audience virtually emotionless and unmoved by the not-guilty verdicts on murder, manslaughter and child abuse charges. The prosecution looked disappointed and had straight faces the entire time. The defense, however, was elated. Casey Anthony was crying tears of relief. Jose Bias and the rest of the team were smiling and hugging each other. I was just very, very sad and left to wonder if justice had really been served.
The judicial system must remain fair-minded to all parties involved; victims, court officials, defendants and even those that are offenders and have been charged. Within the court system whether civil or criminal, it is against the law to be bias because you are on a convinced side of court room. For instance, just because one is being charged and one person is the victim both sides should be given a fair chance and treated for that reason. In the past, the judicial system concentrated mainly on punishments instead of procedures and rehabilitation. More simply defined, during the legal court proceedings, the victims experience of being victimized was often an afterthought. Non-consideration as the resources of jurisprudence is devoted to finding out whether or not the alleged accuser is innocent or guilty (Christopher, 2005). This type of thought process of course created an issue.
During this time the United States criminal court system proceeded from an innocent-until-proven-guilty nature. In the past it was quite difficult to maintain the objectivity mandatory of the courts and also have the ability to attend to the needs, rights and sensitivities of the alleged victim. The courts had to be brutal to the accused but at the same time show compassion for the victim.
These types of conditions eventually created an issue where the advocacy of victims’ rights would appear as a critical area of need where court administration is concerned. The criminal court system in the United States implemented a new law, in the year 2004, the movement to rewrite the Sixth Amendment achieved a partial victory when Congress passed the Crime Victims’ Rights Act which pledged that these rights to be inexistent and to be heard would be applied in federal court proceedings (David and Stephen, 2012).
The victim’s awareness of the justice procedure and preparedness to take part is often swayed by this contact. If law enforcement officers fail to offer victims with sensitive and compassionate action at the time of the crime and during the investigation, victims may decline to cooperate and thus, deter the law enforcement agencies’ capacity to make arrests.
Although the judicial system continuouslychanges so does society. The court organizations today will only remain operational and embrace development if society does the same. Law enforcement officials are in most cases viewed negatively by society because law enforcement is known for making contact with communities when a crime of some sort has been committed. In order for society to comprehend the judicial system they must first understand how their actions and views influence it.