When courtroom participants are thought of it’s generally the judge, jurors, defendant, defense attorney and prosecutor. What about the other important participants? Court administrators are key factor participants as well, such as the bailiffs, court clerk, court reporters, and witnesses. Every one of these participants plays a key role in the criminal justice system and contributes to the effectiveness of the courts existence. The judge is a public officer who hears and decides cases in a court of law.
The defendant is the person being accused of a crime and his or attorney (defense attorney) is the person fighting to pursue there innocence in a court of law. The prosecutor represents the state and is responsible for presenting all evidence against the accused. The jurors try to find the truth in all the evidence and testimony presented before them and then hand their findings over to the judge. I just covered the functions and importance of the initial courtroom participants, now I will cover the participants we often over look.
Bailiffs are important participants in the courtroom because they help the judge maintain order along with many other tasks in the courtroom. Sheriff Deputies, police officers may hold the position of a bailiff depending on the area or state. A bailiff is not always an employee of the courts. While a bailiff job duties are to maintain order and security in the courtroom they have to intervene when someone is being disruptive or loud in the courtroom.
Sometimes they will have to get physical with people who are showing threatening behavior and then remove them from the courtroom. The bailiff is the person that escorts the defendant in and out of the courtroom for the trial proceedings. They make sure the jurors are safe throughout the proceedings and afterward walking them to their vehicles. This is important because some people get angry at the findings of the jury and attempt to intimidate or even hurt them.
In the case that convicted Anthony Marshall of stealing from his legendary New York socialite mother Brooke Astor, a juror told the defense lawyer on the case that she only voted to convict the defendant because she felt threatened by the other jurors claiming that one juror came at her in a menacing way throwing up gang signs at her. Court clerk duties include keeping record of all evidence, schedule proceedings and corresponding with a variety of staff members of the court. The clerk ensures that all paperwork is filed and handled properly throughout the criminal justice system providing the ecessary paperwork to the judge when needed. It is because of the court clerks that the proceeding and the court process is able to run efficiently. Court reporters are responsible for keeping a record of everything that is said while a trial is in session. The court reporter must maintain efficiency and accuracy at all times. This information is used for the appeal process so the information contained in the report must be accurate. Often during a trial the judge or attorney might say “let the record reflect that” because they want to make sure that the particular information is recorded in the transcribing of the case.
Most court reporter uses stenotype typewriter and use shorthand. Other methods for recording court proceedings are audio taping and videotaping. Those two methods are both inexpensive but if a printed record is requested someone will have to then transcribe all of the taping. Witnesses are individuals who were some how apart the crime. They could have been an eyewitness to the crime or could have been with the defendant at home when the particular crime took place providing the defendant an alibi. There are also expert witnesses that can be used to explain a particular behavior or explanation of a particular part of a crime.
Witnesses help the jurors or judge decide what is the truth and sort through the facts. As a witness you can be subpoena. All witnesses have to be sworn in under oath that they will be telling the truth before the courts. Throughout the courtroom process there are many key players and participants. It’s important to know who the participants are and what their role is in the criminal justice system. Many of the participants go unnoticed but it is those very participants that keep our court system running effectively.