Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ABA Fact Sheets, State Court Information and Some News Stories...

ABA’s fact sheet on judicial selections:

Q: How does your state select high court/supreme court judges? South Dakota has uncontested retention elections after initial appointment.

A: The judge is either voted to stay in office or voted out.

Q: How does your state select intermediate appellate court judges?

A: South Dakota does not have an intermediate appellate court.

Q: How does your state select trial court judges?

A: South Dakota has nonpartisan elections for all general jurisdiction trial court judges. The judges’ political party affiliation is not supposed to be a factor in the voting process.

Q: What are the benefits and drawbacks for selecting judges through popular elections?

Drawbacks: Voters casting votes without a knowledge of the election have a negative effect on the results. Also, minority groups will not have much voting power when outvoted by larger interest groups. Judges may win elections because they look and sound good, or because they have deep enough pockets to advertise more than the competitors.

Benefits: The majority of the population gets what they want. The voters cannot blame anyone but themselves for who is in office. The community feels more involved with the election process.

National Center for State Courts Information on South Dakota:

The court system for South Dakota is similar to that of many other states in that it has three tiers: courts of limited jurisdiction, courts of general jurisdiction and appellate courts. The Magistrate Court is an example of a South Dakota court of limited jurisdiction which has 7 circuits and 10 full time Magistrates (as well as 4 part time ones). The types of cases that would be heard here would include torts, contracts, real property (between 0-10,000 dollars), small claims, misdemeanors, and preliminary hearings (Bromage, 2007). An interesting fact about this Magistrate Court is that according to the NCSC, there are no jury trials at this level; cases are decided by bench trial. The next level (courts of general jurisdiction) is the South Dakota Circuit Court; which has 7 circuits and 38 Justices according the NCSC. Types of cases dealt with here would notably include criminal cases such as felonies.

The last level is the South Dakota Supreme Court (appellate court), which has 5 justices. The Supreme Court is the only court of its type in the state (there are no intermediate appellate level courts like in the federal system). Cases that heard in the Supreme Court would be only appeals since it’s not a trial court. Thus, as one could see, South Dakota’s court system is a very small one (composed of less than 100 judges in the entire state and a fairly minuscule number of circuits), nonetheless it seems to get the job done.

Recent Felony Arrest in South Dakota:

On October 25, 2009, police arrested a man for sexual contact without consent. Mr. Arevalo Velasquez was allegedly posing as a security guard at a restaurant on Saturday night when he grabbed a woman’s groin during a pat down search. A court of general jurisdiction would hear this case if Mr. Velasquez is charged with a felony. If Mr. Velasquez is charged with a misdemeanor offense then a court of limited jurisdiction would hear the case.
Recent Court Appeal in South Dakota:

In August ,Tad Blackburn was convicted of second degree murder for the stabbing and beating death of his girlfriend Tamara Magic. He was sentenced to life in prison. A notice of appeal was filed with the state Supreme Court. The case is being appealed on the basis that authorities did not properly investigate and new information from a former jail inmate. http://www.argusleader.com/article/20091027/UPDATES/91027011


Citation for image:
Image Retrieved From the World Wide Web at http://www.cbsnews.com/ on October 25, 2009

Citation for ABA’s fact sheet on judicial selections:
American Bar Association. FACT SHEET ON JUDICIAL SELECTION METHODS IN THE STATES. Retrieved from http://www.abanet.org/leadership/fact_sheet.pdf On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 2:45 PM

Citation for National Center for State Courts Information on South Dakota:
Chantal, Bromage (2007). South Dakota (Court Structure as of Fiscal Year 2007). Retrieved from http://www.ncsconline.org/D_Research/Ct_Struct/state_inc.asp?STATE=SD on October 25, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Miranda Warning and a Couple Article Summaries....

New York Times Article, "U.S. Is Alone in Rejecting All if Police Err" Summary and Response:

The article discussed how several different countries view the "exclusionary rule". Specifically, relating to an unreasonable search of a Canadian vehicle containing 77 pounds of methamphetamine. The article further discussed that the Canadian trial judge and appellate court refused to exclude the evidence; and that had this police misconduct taken place in the United States the evidence would be inadmissable under our legal system. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/19/us/19exclude.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1) .

For example, the article discusses how Canadian Judges decide what evidence is admissible in regards to police misconduct. The article discussed that if the offenders were here in the United States the evidence would have been suppressed under the exclusionary rule due to an unlawful search. According to the article "[t]he United States is the only country to take the position that some police misconduct must automatically result in the suppression of physical evidence. The rule applies whether the misconduct is slight or serious, and without regard to the gravity of the crime or the power of the evidence." (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/19/us/19exclude.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1).

Yes, we agree with Justice Breyer’s statement that the exclusion of evidence is a deterrent to police misconduct. In my opinion, it serves as a "checks and balances", which we believe is what our system of justice based upon. In our opinion the exclusionary rule is one of our most important rights as United States citizens. It is the Fourth Amendment, it protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. It makes police accountable for their actions and makes them uphold the Constitution.

Example of a Warrentless Search:

The type of warrantless arrest that was in the article for South Dakota was ‘Search Based on Plain View’. There was no warrant issued for the two comedians, Scot A. Shields Jr. and Michael J. Corning, in this article because the drug paraphernalia, marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, were seen in a bag of trail mix during a traffic stop. The outcome of this case has yet to be determined but if the two are convicted they will receive a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $20,000 fine. Each man is charged with possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, a Class one misdemeanor, punishable by law and up to one year in a prison along with a $2000 fine. Shields has also been charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle. Magistrate Judge Shawn Pahlke set bail at $2500 for each man.
‘No humor seen in comedians’ drug arrest’

Article at: http://tinyurl.com/yhgmn54

Purpose of The Miranda Warning:

The purpose of the Miranda warning is to protect criminal defendants during police interrogations and allowing them to practice their rights. In the book, Introduction to Criminal Justice by Larry, J. Siegel (pg. 339) it states that a Miranda warning is, “the requirement that when a person is custodial interrogated police inform the individual of the rights to remain silent, the consequences of failing to remain silent, and the constitutional right to counsel. There are possibilities that allow police to use illegally obtained statements without giving a Miranda warning.

One of them includes a voluntary statement given in the absence of a Miranda warning. This can be used to obtain evidence that can be used at trial. For example if a husband murdered his wife, and while the police were searching the house, the husband confessed that he killed his wife, that statement could be used in trail. At no time was the husband under interrogation, or asked to confess, he did it on his own voluntary will. Another possibility to admit illegally obtained statements deals with statements made by the mentally impaired. Although the Miranda warnings protect the statements made by those mentally impaired, certain ages, and language barriers, if the person who is mentally impaired is able to show some kind of understanding of the Miranda rights, and if the police acted properly, then the statement is valid. For example if a teenager who is mentally impaired robs a liquor store, and tells the police he did it, then if the police were to take him aside and explained his Miranda rights, and he were to nod yes then the statement would be valid. This is can be proven because he confirmed that he knew his rights, and the police acted appropriately to the situation.

A final possibility deals when a suspect is questioned without his Miranda rights when the public safety is at stake. If a person was to rob a grocery store, and while robbing the store, hid their weapon, the police could question were they hid the weapon, and have that statement be valid in court. The reason for its validity is because that weapon can be a public hazard to a person, For example if a child were to find that weapon and use it, that would cause major public damages. This exception is called the public safety doctrine.


Citation for image: Image retrived from teh World Wide Web at: www.thebillablehour.com on October 20, 2009

Citation for; New York Times Article, "U.S. Is Alone in Rejecting All if Police Err" Summary and Response:

Liptak, A (2008 July) "U.S. Is Alone in Rejecting All if Police Err" The New York Times Retrived from the World Wide Web on October, 20 2009 from: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/19/us/19exclude.html

Citation for; Example of a Warrentless Search:

Journal Staff (2009 October) "No humor seen in comedians' drug arrest" Rapid City Journal Retrived from the World Wide Web on October, 20 2009 from: http://tinyurl.com/yhgmn54

Citation for; Purpose of The Miranda Warning:

Siegel, J. L. (2009) Introduction to Criminal Justice retrived from pages 339-341 on October 20, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Police Fairness in Regards to Race, Gender, and Class....

Differences Between Male and Female Police Officers Mock Questions:

1) When a suspect attempts to run away from an officer, are male or female officers more likely to successfully apprehend them? Male officers are more likely to apprehend a fleeing suspect because they typically have greater physical strength, speed, and stamina than female officers. Male officers are also more aggressive.

2) Do male or female officers take more days off from work for personal days? Female officers take more personal days because they are more emotionally expressive in ways that are not appropriate for the workplace and take a day off to get through it.

3) Are civilians more responsive and cooperative to male or female officers? It depends on the individual citizen. Female officers have a greater ability to appeal to those in need of emotional attention, while male officers are more able to take control of a physically aggressive situation.

4) After an incident, are male or female officers more likely to write up their reports in a timely manner? Females are generally better at multi-tasking and getting things done in a timely manner.

5) Which gender of officer is a greater liability to the police force? Female officers are a greater liability. Woman are typically worse drivers and more likely to get in an accident with their patrol car. Woman are less likely to catch a suspect in a foot chase, making it more likely for the person to get away. Women have smaller body frames, making them more likely to break a bone or get injured.

Policing Styles:

In this video clip from the Fox television show “Cops,” an example of the law enforcer style of policing can be seen. The law enforcement view contends “duty is clearly set out in the law and that law enforcers stress playing it ‘by the book (Siegel, 2008).’” Law enforcers (he later notes) see themselves as generalized law enforcement agents charged with apprehending all types of law breakers (Siegel, 2008). This can be clearly seen in the clip because the officer (from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department) is arresting someone he suspects of smoking marijuana; the officer is playing by the book, even pointing his weapon at the man whilst apprehending him (likely because the officer suspects the offender might be carrying a weapon). Siegel also notes that “law enforcers are devoted to the profession of police work and are the most likely to aspire command rank (which the officer in this clip possesses) (Siegel, 2008). The Sheriff’s Deputy is not exhibiting the crime fighter style because he isn’t “focusing on a serious crime (obviously marijuana smoking isn’t) (Siegel, 2008).” He isn’t a social agent, because an officer following this style would encourage the man to seek drug rehabilitation. He definitely isn’t a Watchman because “watchmen choose to ignore many infractions and requests for service unless they believe that the social or political order is jeopardized (Siegel, 2008).” Thus as one could see, the law enforcement style is exemplified with the officer shown here.

Siegel, Larry J (2008). Introduction to Criminal Justice, 297. Video: Video retrieved from YouTube on October 4, 2009 from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mp0qs44fsY

Example of Police Brutality and Corruption:

In July of 2005 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota a 70-year-old American Indian Frank Sioux Bob of Pine Ridge was at home with his grandchildren when officers entered the house and indicated they were responding to a call about a gun. There was no weapon in the house. Still the officers continued to enter without a warrant or consent and roughed up Mr. Bob. No one in that area had made such a report This incident was taken to court were a judge had been asked to dismiss this police brutality lawsuit filed on the grounds that it the case belonged in tribal courts not federal.

This particular incident shows it is evident that police brutality was used. The brutality occurred when the victim Mr. Bob was “roughed up” by the police who could be interpreted as using force or coercion, as defined in the definition of police brutality. Another element that could be considered as police brutality is the unlawful entering of the victim’s home. This can be inferred as using searches to harass people. The article tries to justify the actions of the police by stating that they were responding to a call of a gun, but it was later reported that no call was made to the police in that area regarding a gun. Therefore it can be implied that a possible motivation that the police had to enter the victim’s home was to harass him. The police could have handled the situation much differently. They could have simply asked if a gun was founded in the home, and asked to search around, without any physical contact. They also could have doubled checked to verify that there was in fact an actual call made.

The Associated Press, (2008, January 27). Lawyers spar over tribal police brutality lawsuit. Rapid City Journal. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/01/27/news/top/doc479cdb311e93a576402603.txt


Citations for Image: Image retrieved form the World Wide Web on October, 2, 2009 from: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/05/17/1052885443126.html

Citations for Policing Styles: Siegel, Larry J (2008). Introduction to Criminal Justice, 297. Video: Video retrieved from YouTube on October 4, 2009 from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mp0qs44fsY

Citations for Example of Police Brutality and Corruption: The Associated Press, (2008, January 27). Lawyers spar over tribal police brutality lawsuit. Rapid City Journal. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from: http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/01/27/news/top/doc479cdb311e93a576402603.txt