Business Law 115 Superior Court Observation The Superior Court session I observed was an alcohol impairment case. The defendant in this case, had been found guilty in District Court, but had filed an appeal to the District Court’s decision. The morning began with the juryselection process. The potential juror pool began with approximately 30 people. The Clerk of Court, Wendy Williams,drew twelve names at random form a bowl to begin the selection process. Once the initial twelve names were pulled, both attorneys had the opportunity to “interview” thepotential jurors.
The prosecution attorney, Emily Cowen, began the process by asking each person to givesome general background information on themselves. This information included where they were from, how long they had lived in the Hendersonville area, their maritalstatus, occupation, etc. After getting this information, the prosecutor asked questions, such as: Did they feel they could hear the case and form an unbiased opinion? Had they ever served on a jury in the past? Had they ever had any negative experiences with any law enforcement officer?
Other questions were asked more specifically referring to the DUI, such as: Did they have any family or friends who had been charged with DUI? The defense attorney, J.
Michael Edney, then had the opportunity toask his questions. His questions had an emphasis on items such as whether they had a problem with alcohol use, etc… After the initial questioning, three potential jurors were dismissed. One was dismisseddue to being a past victim of a drunk driver. The second was dismissed due to religious beliefs and the third was dismissed by the prosecutor for reasons that were not obvious to an observer.
The Clerk of Court drew three more names from the bowl and those potential jurors were basically asked the same questions as the initial twelve. Of this group of three, the defense attorney dismissed two. The first was apparently dismissed because his brother had multiple DUI convictions. The reason for the second dismissal was not obvious. The Clerk of Court then drew two more names. These two potential jurors were questioned in the same manner and accepted by the attorneyson both side. After the jury of twelve was seated, the process was repeated to find an alternate.
The purpose if the alternate was to step in if, for any reason, any of the jurors could not serve during the whole trial. The remaining jury pool was excused from the courtroom. The attorney for the Prosecution began with her opening statement, followed by the defense attorney. The prosecution called the first witness, an officer with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department. The officer was sworn in and then questioned by the Prosecutor about the events of the night when the defendant was placed under arrest.
The defense attorney then cross-examined the witness, followed by a prosecution re-direct and then a defense re-cross examination. The witness was then excused. What struck me during the questioning were the actions of the judge. He sat with his head resting in his hand, almost like he was sleeping. However, he did not miss a beat when an objection was made. He either quickly sustained or over-ruled the objection without even raising his head. At this point in the proceedings, the judge called for a lunch recess.
He instructed the jury of six rulesto follow during breaks, briefly these were: They were not to discuss the case amongst themselves. They were not to discuss the case with anyone else outside the courtroom. There should be no formation of an opinion until deliberation. They are not to communicate with anyone involved with the case. They should not read or listen to any media coverage about the trial. Lastly, if applicable, there should be no visitation of the crime scene or no independent inquiry. He explained that any violation of these rules would be considered contempt and punishable as so.
After the recess, the prosecution called two more witnesses, another Sheriff’s deputy and an officer with the Highway Patrol. They were both questioned by the prosecution, then the defense. Both were also faced with a re-direct and a re-cross. The witnesses were excused after theirtestimony. At this point, the prosecution rested its case. The defense than began theircase presentation. The defense called the defendant to the stand to testify on his own behalf. After his initial testimony, he was cross-examined by the prosecution. There was no re-direct or re-cross. The defense rested their case.
The jury was then sent out of the courtroom so the charge conference could take place. This process involves discussions the prosecution and defense as to which instructions would be given to the jury. There is a large set of written instructions and they discussed which are relevant to the case and would be provided to the jury. Once this was completed, the jury was called back into the courtroom and given instructions on the closing statements. These instructions were the same as they were for the opening statements. The defense gave his closing statement first, followed by the prosecution’s closing statement.
The judge then instructed the jury on proper application of the law. He stated that if the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, then they must find the defendant not guilty. However, if they did prove their case, the jury must find the defendant guilty. He also instructed the jury on the items agreed upon during the charge conference. The jury then retired to the deliberation room. At this point, the alternate juror is excused. While the jury was deliberating, I observed a conversation between the two attorneys and some other attorneys that happened to be in the courtroom.
The prosecutor made the comment that the defendant admitted he had been drinking and that was basically the whole of the case. To that, the defense attorney relied, “The truth is irrelevant. ” I found that statement quite surprising and it has stuck with me, I think, more than any other information. The jury did not come back with a verdict by the end of the day. When I called the Clerk of Court office the following morning, I was told that they had come back at around 10:30 am with a guilty verdict.
Cite this Superior Court Observation
Superior Court Observation. (2018, Mar 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/superior-court-observation/