DWI Case

In a criminal case as in the present case involving Mark Davis` infraction of law, the judge serves as the senior officer of the court whose primary duty is to oversee the process of the trial. As a member of the judiciary, the Judge has the role of ensuring that proceedings are undertaken in faithful compliance with the law and that evidence presented are done according to law. Hence, judges rule on matters governed by law. This does not, however, limit his role to addressing questions of law because a judge likewise resolves certain matters on factual issues of the cases. For example, the judge may, in a federal setting, summarize and comment on the value of the evidence while in state courts, although a judge may not give his comment, he may nevertheless summarize the evidence presented. In this case, the jury may render the opinion against Davis but the judge will decide whether the evidence presented by the prosecution led by District Attorney O`Malley. On the other hand, the District Attorney serves as the lead prosecutor, with a duty to protect the best interests of the state. The Defense Attorney has the duty to protect the rights of the defendant (Siegel and Worrall, 2014)
During the trial, Davis has rights arising from la which the judge, jury, Defense Attorney and District Attorney must respect. In the state of Georgia, the basic rights of a defendant are contained in Section 1, Article 1 of the Georgia Constitution. Among these rights are the right to an attorney and to cross-examine witnesses in criminal cases the right against self-incrimination protection against excessive bail (Lippke, 2011). From this enumeration, Davis was properly afforded with his own attorney in the person of Mr. Chen Long. Although some may argue that reenactment is against a person`s right against self-incrimination, many legal experts believe that this right does nor effectively bar an order of reenactment (Hall, Ely and Grossman, 2005)
Just like Davis who was the accused, the victims likewise have their own rights. During the pre-trial and trial phase, the victims` rights are contained in Chapter 17, Title 17 of the Criminal Procedure known as “Crime Victims` Bill of Rights.” Among these rights victims and their families are entitled to as identified by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (n. d.) are:
o Reasonable, accurate and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings
o Reasonable, accurate and timely notice of the arrest, release or escape of the accused
o Not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings involving the accused, except as otherwise provided by law
o Be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea or sentencing of the accused
o File a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused
o Confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim
o Restitution as provided by law
o Proceedings free from unreasonable delay
o Be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case
o Under certain conditions, to be notified of the accused being on an electronic release and monitoring program
o Notified of an arrest warrant being issued for the accused and
o Notified of the accused being prohibited from contacting the victim.
Sadly, it is not unusual for the family of a deceased victim to become angered by a slow criminal justice process or one where they are not permitted by law to be given information about the facts or evidence in the case by the District Attorney`s Office before the trial due to clogged court dockets. Other reasons that had been identified by commentators on the slow criminal process are the overburdening and underfunding of courts in Georgia (Lucas, 2005).
Due to the problems on finishing criminal trials speedily, the plea bargaining process had been adopted. The plea bargaining process offered by District Attorney O`Malley is a form of trial avoidance by shortening the period of trial in view of the admission by the defendant. In the United States, this had been a long standing practice to avoid the rigors of a complicated court trial when an accused is voluntarily willing to own up to the charges against him (Lippke, 2011). Should Davis choose to give a guilty plea, he will be granted a shorter trial and the penalty may be lessened. On the other hand, going to trial is a consequence of refusing to enter a guilty plea during plea bargaining. The process of trial involves presentation of evidence by both the prosecution and defense to determine the amount of guilt of a person. In criminal cases, guilt beyond reasonable doubt must be established by the prosecution by means of condemning evidence to warrant conviction.
Even with the criticisms on the system, plea bargaining is expected to stand for a long period of time because of the amount of cases that have been resolved through it. One cannot imagine a judicial system that would refuse to come up with machineries to secure speedy disposition of cases. Trials usually eat up a lot of time and incur significant amount of process costs. The proven effectiveness of plea bargaining will not be easily derided by mere criticisms that are thrown against it.
Another mode of speeding up the trial process is by presentation of evidence by usin technology such as computer reenactment. The Highway Patrol`s computer animated reenactment can serve to bring about evidence supporting conviction because it can provide an explanation why the accused was probably guilty of the crime. The reenactment may establish the credibility of the material evidence presented by the prosecution. In the reenactment done by the police, they were enlightened on the unsuitability of rendering Davis guilty of reckless driving.
It can be established therefore, that Davis` rights were properly protected during the course of the trial. The irregularities pointed out by the defense may only serve to lessen the penalties and criminal responsibilities of the defendant but it cannot automatically warrant an acquittal.
Lippke, Richard L. (2011). The Ethics of Plea Bargaining. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hall, K.L., Ely, J. W. and Grossman, J. B. (2005) The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lucas, L. S. (2005) Effectively Ineffective: The Failure of Courts to Address Underfunded Indigent Defense Systems. March 1, 2005. Harvard Law Review, Vol. 118, p. 1731, 2005
Siegel, L. and Worrall, J. (2014) Essentials of Criminal Justice.
Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (n. d.) Know Your Rights as a Victim: Georgia`s Victims Bill of Rights. http://www.djj.state.ga.us/Victims/PDF/GeorgiaCrimeVictimBillRights.pdf (Accessed on 1 February 2014)