Street Law: A Course in Practical Law

Chapter 14: Criminal Justice Process: The Trial

Cases and Resources

Right to Trial by Jury
Right to a Speedy and Public Trial
Right to Compulsory Process and to Confront Witnesses
Freedom From Self-Incrimination
Right to an Attorney
Criminal Appeals

Right to Trial by Jury
Jury or Judge Trial: Which Is Better?
Examine this short explanation of which type of trial is better for specific cases. Look at the factors that defendants might consider before choosing to have a jury trial.

Voir Dire: Creating the Jury
The Constitutional Rights Foundation has a site for students and teachers to learn more about the process of selecting juries. Read an explanation of the process of voir dire and click on the links to other resources or cases that are relevant to this issue.

Williams v. Florida
Read a summary of the case or link to the full text of the decision by the Supreme Court allowing juries to be comprised of six, rather than 12, jurors. What was the defendant on trial for in this case? What are the arguments for both sides?

Batson v. Kentucky
Browse a summary of the case that made it illegal for race to be used as a reason to excuse jurors from service. Why did the prosecution in this case dismiss several possible jurors who were black? Upon what did the Court base its decision? You may also link to the full text of the decision or listen to the oral arguments from this site.

Johnson v. Louisiana
This case allows verdicts to be handed down by juries that could not reach a unanimous agreement. Of a 12-person jury, only nine must agree for a decision to be final in this state. From this site, you can also read the full opinion or listen to the oral arguments of this case.

Jury Nullification
Read this article to learn more about this interesting concept and how jury nullifications can have a great impact on the legal system. Do you think jury nullification is ever justified?

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Right to a Speedy and Public Trial
The Rationale and What a Speedy Trial Means
Read this explanation of the scope and reasoning behind the guarantee of a speedy trial. What does it mean to have a speedy trial?

Speedy Trial Denied
This story of a black teenager describes the denial of a speedy trial. Do you believe this denial was racially motivated? How long has this person been waiting for a trial?

Barker v. Wingo
Examine the Supreme Court case that affirms the right to a speedy trial.

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Right to Compulsory Process and to Confront Witnesses
Compulsory Process: The Sixth Amendment offers an explanation of the Sixth Amendment and what compulsory process means. What are criminal defendants guaranteed based on this amendment?

Exceptions for Vulnerable Witnesses
There are some who are concerned that compulsory process forces vulnerable witnesses, such as children or crime victims, to testify before an accused criminal. Some courts allow children and other witnesses in this situation to testify in ways that will protect them from coming face to face with the suspect. Is this fair?

Coy v. Iowa
Explore the Supreme Court case that addresses the separation of child victims of crime and the controversy between protecting these witnesses and fulfilling the suspect's right to confront the witnesses against him or her. What did the Court decide? Do you agree?

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Freedom From Self-Incrimination
Self-Incrimination: The Fifth Amendment offers an explanation of the Fifth Amendment and the meaning of self-incrimination. Why is this right included in the Constitution?

The Fifth Amendment and the Innocent
There is a common misconception that the Fifth Amendment is only meant to protect guilty people. Read this story of a babysitter who refused to answer questions in the trial of the death of a baby. The baby's father was the suspect, but the babysitter invoked the Fifth Amendment. Why would someone who is not being accused of a crime invoke the Fifth Amendment?

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Right to an Attorney
Gideon v. Wainwright
Explore this landmark Supreme Court case and accompanying resources that explain the significance of this case. Under what circumstances does this decision guarantee a lawyer for criminal defendants?

Argersinger v. Hamlin
Browse a summary of the case that expanded the right to counsel from suspects charged with certain felonies to those charged with misdemeanors as well. You may also read the full text of the opinion from this site or listen to the oral arguments of the case.

Indigent Defense Statistics
Analyze statistics dealing with the defense of individuals who cannot afford to hire their own counsel.

The ACLU on Indigent Defense
Examine current news articles and opinions on the issues of defending indigent clients. Read about the rights of indigent defendants and how the defense of suspects living in poverty may be undermined due to poverty.

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Criminal Appeals
Federal Criminal Appeals: Statistics
Review statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice associated with criminal appeals in federal courts.

Habeas Corpus
Read an explanation of habeas corpus and how the petition works. Learn about significant court cases that have defined the scope of habeas corpus.

Nolo: Appeal v. Habeas Corpus
Learn how criminal appeals and habeas corpus are related and how the two concepts are different.

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