The objective of this paper is to provide a brief legal analysis of the United States Constitution from the point of criminal procedure regulation. The analysis is supported by the description of several pivotal appeal cases. The appellate case decisions, included in the paper, explain the historical evolution of procedural doctrines. The view of the role of the judiciary and the rule of law in society is also provided in the paper.
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The judicial system plays an important part in administering justice and governing the constitutional rights of US citizens. In order to ensure that all stages of the case processing are conducted without prejudice, a number of laws were established to govern the criminal procedure.
Criminal procedure is a term that describes the broad set of rules overseeing the processing of a criminal case (Ingram, 2008). These rules are outlined in several sources of law including the US constitution. The US constitution establishes the basic rules regarding case processing, outlines pre-trial and trial procedures, the role of Jury and a Grand Jury, safeguards the rights of the convicted, and covers such issues as double jeopardy and the death penalty. Provisions that regard the law of criminal procedure are mainly outlined in Amendments IV to VII.
In addition, Amendment XIV establishes that no person can be deprived “of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (The Constitution of the United States, amend. XIV). The provisions affect federal courts in their entirety, and only fundamental rights are protected by these provisions in state courts. One of these fundamental rights is the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures which is outlined in the Fourth Amendment. In Mapp v. Ohio appeal case the Supreme Court established that if evidence was gathered in violation of the US constitution, it is considered inadmissible (Mapp v. Ohio, 1961, par. 1).
Another fundamental right is the defendant’s understating of their rights to remain silent, which is outlined in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments as the privilege against self-incrimination (The Constitution of the United States, amend. V; The Constitution of the United States, amend. VI). In Miranda v. Arizona appeal case, it was established that the police must warn the defendant about their rights before questioning (Miranda v. Arizona,1966, par. 2). These court cases provide insight into the evolution of law.
The Supreme Court, in particular, has shown to provide procedural history. The rulings of these cases directly affected the way the criminal law was enacted in the following years. This highlights a dynamic dimensionality of procedural doctrines, as the Supreme Court rulings changed the way the judicial system administered justice (Ho & Ross, 2010, p. 650). The law is responding to the changing ideas and infuses the old and the new, thus allowing our society to progress.
The judiciary, or the system which oversees delivering justice, plays a pivotal role in a democratic society (Piersol, 2007, p. 444). A democratic society relies on the rule of law to establish justice and protect human rights. In other words, democracy is a government limited by law. The judicial system, which encompasses a network of courts, acts as a mechanism that upholds order by applying the law to resolve disputes and provide justice to parties involved in an argument. “By marshaling and defending the best concepts of the past, the law affords civilized society the all-essential qualities of stability and order” (White, 1959, p. 198).
Ho, D. & Ross, E. (2010). Did Liberal Justices Invent the Standing Doctrine? An Empirical Study of the Evolution of Standing, 1921-2006. Stanford Law Review, 62(3), 591-668.
Ingram, J. (2008). Criminal Procedure: Theory and Practice (2nd Edition). New York: Pearson Education.
Mapp v. Ohio. (1961).
Miranda v. Arizona. (1966).
Piersol, L. (2007). Speech: The Role of the Judiciary in a Democratic Society. South Dakota Law Review, 52, 444.
White, J. (1959). The Warren Court Under Attack: the Role of the Judiciary in a Democratic Society. Maryland Law Review, 19(3), p. 181-199.