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Courtroom Workgroup

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  • Category: Jury Work

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In The United States criminal justice system, a Courtroom Workgroup is an informal arrangement between a criminal prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and the judicial officer. This foundational concept in the academic discipline of criminal justice, recharacterizes the seemingly adversarial courtroom participants as collaborators in “doing justice.” The courtroom workgroup was proposed by Eisenstein and Jacob in 1977 to explain their observations of the ways courts, especially lower level courts, actually come to decisions. (“Courtroom Workgroup”, n.d.) How Does It Work

The courtroom workgroup is a mechanism for prosecutorial discretion. Various techniques are used to convince the defendant that the evidence against him or her is overwhelming. “Charge stacking” is a process by which police and prosecutors create case with numerous charges or numerous instances of the same charge to convince the defendant that the risk of not pleading guilty is intolerable. The defendant may be convinced to plead guilty to a few of the charges in return for not being prosecuted for the remaining charges. Because the courtroom workgroup deviates from the public consensus of how justice works, it has developed a deviant set of virtues to continue its work and facilitate daily life for its participants. (“Courtroom Workgroup”, n.d.) This group interacts daily to make sure that rules are being followed in each individual group but also to make sure it is given in a timely manner. The courtroom work group needs to communicate in order to offer plea bargains and choose jurors. The role of the prosecutor is to protect the government or community’s best interests. With that being said, the prosecutor must take cases based on the facts of each case and the evidence provided.

If the prosecutor did not do this and took every case under less stringent requirements it could leave many cases going to trial with a lack of evidence and lead to a waste of court room time and money for attempting a trial with no evidence to convince a jury. This could also lead to innocent people being convicted on no evidence simply because of a well-spoken lawyer. The only way I see that the courtroom work group could be improved would be if all parties focused more on the justice and rules side rather than always focusing on the speedy aspect of getting things done. There will always be the criminals let go because of a lack of evidence to convince a jury as well as innocent people who will be convicted without proper concrete evidence. Prosecutor

Prosecutors are typically lawyers who possess a law degree, and are recognized as legal professionals by the court in which they intend to represent. They usually only become involved in a criminal case once a suspect has been identified and charges need to be filed. They are typically employed by an office of the government, with safeguards in place to ensure such an office can successfully pursue the prosecution of government officials. (“Prosecutor”, n.d.). A prosecutor before trial carries a variety of roles; Decides to press charges or not, based on the evidence, Decides what charges to press according to the apparent facts of the case, Considers plea bargaining conditions, and Shares evidence with the defense. At trial the prosecutor; Prepares and presents the state’s case at trial, Carries burden of praying legal guilt, and Argues for conviction, acting from the view that defendant is guilty. After conviction the prosecutor makes sentencing recommendations. Criminal Justice Funnel

The criminal justice process is like a funnel, wide from the top and narrow at the bottom. Early in the criminal justice process, there are many cases, but the number of cases minimize as decision makers remove cases from the process. Some cases are dismissal, while other are referred for treatment or counseling. Another way of expressing the funnel effect is to say there are many more suspects and defendants than inmates. The process limits the amount of offenders in court and incarcerated at any given time. The funneling process is estimated to result in only a relatively small number of criminal matters ever reaching the trial stage. The funnel prevents the criminal justice system from becoming overburdened. Due to the decreased number of trials and people incarcerated, the system saves man hours and money. Less-serious offenders are put on probation, where they are incarcerated only upon violating probation or committing another crime. (“What Is The Criminal Justice Funnel?”, 1999)

In my opinion, there are some solutions to help eliminate the funnel and reduce the backlog of cases. For example, there is a huge number of drug cases, and criminals sent to prison for drug related crimes. Making drugs a public health problem instead of a criminal justice problem will eliminate the clogging of our nations’ prisons. It’s not the big sharks, also known and the high level drug dealers that are cluttering our prisons, it’s the little fish, the addicts or even sometimes kids that are. Maybe a slight change in the drug laws will eliminate this and help our court systems focus on the bigger crimes. Not by making drugs legal, but maybe decriminalizing their use and treating the problem as a public health issue. Instead of spending the money on building new prisons, they should spend it on rehabilitation centers, etc. Conclusion

In this paper I have discussed what a courtroom work group is, and what techniques are used to make the whole process work. Also discussed are the Prosecutor, what his responsibilities are, how he works in the courtroom and what his roles in the courtroom generally are. The prosecutor is supposed to pursue the cases which benefit the public the most. Note I stated “supposed to.” Prosecutors are in a political field. Every case they win is another step up the political ladder, every case they lose is a step down. If a prosecutor can’t win a case, they won’t prosecute it, regardless of benefit to the public. Also discussed in this paper was what the criminal justice funnel does in our court system, and an opinionative way of eliminating the backlog of cases for the courtroom work group.


Courtroom Workgroup. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtroom_Workgroup

Prosecutor. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosecutor

Prosecutioins and defense. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://media.pearsoncmg.com/pcp/pcp_94869_mutchnick_cj_uop/learning_modules/chapter8/8.3prosecutionanddefense/index.html

What is the criminal justice funnel? (1999). Retrieved from http://What Is the Criminal Justice Funnel? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_6870601_criminal-justice-funnel_.html#ixzz2LIg85Nq4

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