The American Judicial System is extremely complex in terms of viewing the various roles that are played and the opportunities for ethical or unethical decisions to be made. One must be aware of the fact that there are some 51 major judicial jurisdictions in the United States. Each state has its own laws, rules of procedure, and rules of evidence, so long as they do not conflict with any higher federal court that has been applied to the states under its jurisdiction, and there is the federal jurisdiction with its own laws, procedures, and rules of evidence.
This week, you will research and analyze how the three ethical models for
punishment—utilitarianism, deontology, and peacemaking—apply to court judgments. In conclusion, you will explain your views of possible judgment errors in the court system and how theories can be altered toward creating a more effective criminal justice system.
Before attempting the assignments, you must read the assigned text and lectures for this week. These cases and the surrounding material related to them will help you to begin to understand the ethical thought processes with which you will be confronted throughout the course.
In relation to ethical issues in the judicial system, you will analyze:
- How far can attorney-client privileges go in suppressing evidence? Attorneys need to make a choice between being hired professionals working solely for their client’s interests and being legal advocates working for truth and justice.
- Defense attorneys take an oath as officers of their Bar Association to vigorously defend their clients to the best of their ability. That is their legal and ethical duty as required by their professional status as officers of the court.
- Should there be a conflict between fulfilling the role of defense attorney and that of some moral issue as to whether the defense attorney should prejudge his or her client's guilt or innocence? The legal agent role is concerned with strictly following laws and accepting rules without any leniency or violations. The moral agent role, on the other hand, would be concerned with principles of right and wrong and ethics and righteousness.
- Prosecutors, as agents for the state, take an oath to uphold the Constitution and to seek justice on behalf of the state and its citizens. Given that a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty under our judicial system is the prosecutor also required to consider the defendant as being among the citizens he or she is protecting?
- Should prosecutors be allowed to make errors in judicial proceedings and still win convictions? What is more significant—an ethical and appropriate outcome of the case or an ethical and appropriate proceeding?
- In making decisions from the bench, is the judge bound by ethics to make decisions that are strictly by the law so as not to lean one way or the other in a case regardless of his or her personal views on the case?
- Should courts punish to deter or to gain retribution?
Deterrence is used to convince an offender not to commit crimes in
the future; however, retribution means penalizing an offender to
redress the wrongdoing or the crime.