Suppose you are the judge responsible for sentencing Jason Miller, a 20 year-old man convicted of robbing a convenience store. At trial, the prosecution showed that Jason was the getaway driver for his older brother and another man (both of whom had lengthy criminal histories). Jason was not armed and did not have any interaction with anyone inside the store. The other two men brandished firearms and struck the clerk, causing severe head trauma. Jason’s attorney presented evidence at his sentencing hearing that Jason had only been arrested once before for stealing a cell phone from another student in high school; Jason had successfully completed diversion for that offense. His attorney also presented evidence that Jason had maintained a job for two years after high school graduation as a construction worker. In your jurisdiction, you have the option of sentencing Jason to prison (for 1-25 years) or to probation (for up to five years). How would you determine an appropriate sentence for Jason?
Becky Williams works on a road crew for the City of Palm Springs. She often works early in the morning to repair potholes on the busy streets. One day, a vehicle sped through the construction zone and veered off the road, pinning Becky between the vehicle and a work truck. Becky was trapped for an hour while emergency crews freed her. As a result of the incident, Becky suffered tremendous physical damages, including the amputation of both of her legs. Becky filed a civil suit; her attorney asked for damages to compensate Becky for her physical injuries as well as for the trauma caused by the accident. At the trial, evidence was presented as to the medical costs, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacities. Discuss any issues Becky’s attorney may have in presenting her case for psychological injuries.
Plea bargaining is encouraged in the criminal system for many reasons. It can help reduce the caseload, eliminate the need for victims to testify, result in charges being dropped for a defendant, and can secure a defendant’s testimony against co-defendants. Plea bargaining does not occur in every case. Those defendants who instead request a trial are sentenced to prison at a higher rate than those who accept a plea bargain. Consider the role of the judge in sentencing. Explain why a judge may sentence a defendant who is convicted of a crime after trial more harshly than one who accepted a plea bargain for the same charge.
The largest discrepancy between verdicts reached by judges as opposed to jurors occurs when jury _____ are involved; even though a defendant may be guilty, the jury finds them not guilty because they view the charge as trivial or the act as justified.
In 2016, a jury in Omaha, Nebraska convicted Anthony Garcia in two separate double murders. The first occurred in 2008 and involved the slaying of a nanny and an 11-year-old boy. The second occurred in 2013 and involved a retired doctor and his wife. Defense attorneys requested that the trial be moved outside of the Omaha area due to the extensive media coverage; that request was denied. Given the information you have studied about juror bias, describe the type of information that the defense should have presented to the judge in support of their request.
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