Every day there are cases in court that determine the justice of our land. Most of these Cases take place in our state courts. This is important to the citizens of the US in every which way, with so many aspects and parameters to the US law, a simple case that seems to be easy in deciding could turn into a confusing trial in a matter of seconds. Since judges in the US make decisions based on previous results, each of these cases cannot be taken lightly, because are all entitled to a fair trial. Our law could be looked at in many different angles; the law is not always clear-cut. Recently I got the opportunity to examine a court proceeding, it was fascinating to able to see firsthand how the procedures of a trial actually take place live. Everyone from the Bailiff, who has been there for 32 years, to the court reporter who types faster than I can speak, to the head of the court, Judge Weiman, plays a very important role during a court case.
The case that I sat through dealt with a woman suing a grocery company (Food Town) on September 2005 because of a spill in one of the isles, which made her fall and injure her. Seems like an easy case doesn’t it? Well it’s not even close to easy, the judge has to consider various aspects before he can make the final verdict, many questions are asked before the actual decision is made. Since this was a civil case then the plaintiff only needs to prove the preponderance of the evidence, meaning that he/she only has to have enough evidence that proves that a reasonable person would actually suffer an injury if they were in the same incident. With this being said, the defendant could approach this trial in reverse by asking the judge questions like, how long was the spill there? Why are we liable over an accident? Or in this case the women had suffered injuries to her back before all this, why are we being sued for injuries she already had? Both sides will have to defend their sides, making sure there on top of their game because one slip could cost them the case. Another important piece of a case is the jury, it is not only crucial to the attorneys but to you as an individual as well.
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When most people think of jury service they don’t like the idea, which I understand because most people are losing money, or don’t want to drive all the way out to downtown, and paying for parking which is more then they pay you. All this is true, but we as citizens of this country need to realize how extremely important jury duty is to our country. The jury act like judges for one day, it’s our chance to experience a setting where justice is being served. Just like out troops go out and fight for our land, it is our duty to give back to our country. The jury is a group of 12 unbiased people who observe everything going on in a trial from the witnesses’ body language to the repetition of an attorney. This is to help pass judgment fairly, what better ways to have our 12 peers examine our actions. The process of asking the jurors questions of their background started taking place in the case, with everyone in the jury expected to use voir dire when their answering, this process gets pretty intense. When both attorneys are done asking their questions they can dismiss 6 jurors on both sides, this process is in order not to have a biased group of jurors. At this moment, I got to witness a rare occasion where the attorney used peremptory challenge because the defendant struck 4 African-Americans out of the 6 strikes that he had. This comes from the Batson v Kentucky case where Batson didn’t have a fair jury for no reason. In the grocery fall case I was in both attorneys approached the judge’s bench and the defendant had good reason to strike all four jurors so the judge dismissed it, but I was very fortunate the witness such a rare occasion.
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Finally the jury was chosen and the opening statements and evidence was revealed, with both parties strongly representing their side, with witnesses and videos for the judge and the jury. This part of the case is also very tense; its one thing to see it on TV but to actually be there is breath taking. After both sides have told their side of the story the jury and judge make the final verdict which was, the jury for the defendant, the jury did not find any negligence on their part, the jury found that the plaintiff was negligent in this slip and fall case. It’s difficult to prove that the property owner was liable for the injury.
In Conclusion, I am so glad that I got to experience this case. I learned so much, and was intrigued from the moment I stepped in the courtroom. I have to be honest I was one to think negative of jury duty before, but after this Ill make sure to be there the next time I’m called. In my opinion, every student should experience a court proceeding in order to better understand what we are learning in school. Many of the topics that we talk about in class, were either used or talked about during this whole case, everything came together and started to make sense for me. I got to meet some amazing people who gave me many pointers in law which I’m sure are going to benefit me in the future. With all this being said, I hope that you are as interested in law as much as I am now.