Many people assume that judges spend most of their time presiding over jury trials. In fact, nation-wide on average, less than 5 percent of cases ever go to trial. This surprises a lot of people. Where do all the cases go? There are a number of ways that cases can be resolved without a trial.
The role of the courts has received a lot of attention following hearings at the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the law commonly known as “Obamacare.” Many, including the President, have discussed something called “judicial review.” Judicial review refers to a power held by the courts to decide if a law violates the Constitution or not. If the law violates the Constitution, the courts will “strike down” the law declaring it invalid.
“You can’t outrun the long-arm of the law.” That was a popular refrain from a Kenny Rogers song from many years ago. Fugitives from justice can understand the idea of the long-arm of the law through a legal process known as extradition. Extradition deals with one State returning someone to another State to stand trial or to be sentenced in a criminal court action.
Sometimes, when a minor allegedly commits a crime the law provides that society’s interests are better met by treating the juvenile as an adult. This process is known as “certification.”
Minnesota law has rules to decide when a juvenile is certified to be treated as an adult. In Minnesota, a child as young as 14 years old could be certified to adult court.
It is sometimes said that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. Many people become frustrated that there are so many steps before a criminal case is concluded. However, the process is better thought of as deliberate rather than slow.
People often express concerns about “plea bargains” in criminal cases. They wonder, “Why should a criminal get a bargain? Doesn’t anyone take crime seriously?” In fact, everyone in the criminal justice system takes it very seriously.
Suppose Bob and Steve enter into a contract. Bob buys 2 TV sets from Steve for $100 each. Bob pays Steve the $200 and receives the first TV set but soon discovers that it doesn’t work as well as he had hoped. Steve refuses to return the purchase money. Bob starts a lawsuit.
Going to court can be a stressful, time-consuming and expensive way to resolve a dispute. Many attorneys charge over $250 per hour and civil cases can take over a year to be resolved in court. Even after a court decision, people often spend as much time and money on an appeal as on the original case.
A reader has again asked a great question: Why are there so many different types of juries? Juries vary by their size, purpose and the types of cases that they hear.
The most misunderstood jury is the Grand Jury. Its name refers only to the number of people serving as jurors. A grand jury is made up of 16-23 citizens convened by the county attorney to determine whether or not probable cause exists to charge someone with a crime. Typically grand juries are only called to consider charges of first degree murder or misconduct of a public officer.
After 25 days of trial a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty. Was justice done? That question has dominated political conversation in America. Some want to interject a discussion about race relations into the trial analysis. While those concerns are appropriate on a wider scale, they are misplaced when talking about a single jury trial.
A jury trial occurs