Law studies aim at raising knowledge about the court system and the associated processes in students. The theoretical knowledge obtained in class is an important aspect, which increases the competence in the sphere of law. Additionally, it gives the basis for the usage of laws in practice as well as resolving the cases, which involve legal contradictions. At the same time, one presumes that theoretical knowledge is not enough for becoming a skillful practitioner in the sphere of law. For this reason, students are required to go to a court and observe the proceedings for a significant amount of time. Afterwards, there is a need for writing a memo, in which a student notes one’s reflections on the topic. The reflections include the vision of the observations as well as personal thoughts about the observed process and the court system overall. Students are obliged to be observers, which mean that they should not become a party to the proceedings of the court. The procedure requires checking the docket and visiting the session. At the same time, students are restricted from visiting traffic court. Therefore, this paper represents personal experiences and thoughts associated with a visit to the court in Washington. Additionally, the memo includes thoughts related to the observed processes and their interpretation regarding the knowledge obtained in class. It is assumed that this writing assists in the development of an individual vision of the court process as well as the legal system in general. Consequently, this method should be applied in all institutions related to the sphere of law because it increases the awareness of legal procedures and associated events.
This section presents my experiences and interpretations of the events observed in court and their comparison with the theoretical knowledge. Thus, I checked the docket and decided to visit the trial “USA v. David Robinson”, which had the number CR12-276RSM (Western District of Washington). The case addressed the issue of violation of revocation of supervised release and took place on 11/12/15 at 11:30 am. First, I should note that I enjoyed being present during the process despite the final hour was rather tiresome. The court room appeared to be as big as I expected, and all the presented practitioners were on the places, which are known to me from the books and films. The judge was Ricardo S. Martinez who seemed to be a skillful professional. Before visiting the trial, I checked his biography and was aware that he had several significant cases. For this reason, I presumed that the trial would be interesting and useful in terms of enriching my experience. The jury, the lawyers and the side of prosecution were actively participating in the process, which indicated that they are responsible and trustworthy professionals. At first, I expected that there would be some shouting or any other conflicts during the process. I have seen some heated debates during trials on YouTube videos and expected that if the case addressed the violation of some legal norms, the defendant might act in an inappropriate way. Additionally, I have seen some other acts of disobedience during the trials in the films or TV shows. However, all parties respected the law, and the discussions were rather calm. At the same time, the manner of speech of each participant present in the court room was official.
The defendant, David Robinson, was a man in his middle ages, who was previously involved in the court process. His previous charges were robberies and possession of drugs. Therefore, the grand jury pled him guilty, which was followed by imprisonment. In addition, the imprisonment was followed by a supervised relief for the term of five years. Apparently, the plaintiff claimed that Robinson violated the imposed term of revocation of supervised release. Furthermore, the plaintiff explained the issue presenting the evidence. His speech was logically structured and based on legal norms regarding the procedures, which fall under the notion “revocation of supervised release.” It should be pointed out that the structure of the sentences of this speech was sometimes unusual. I regard this as the peculiarity of the language of the court system. All the parties listened to the claims and arguments attentively. From time to time, they made records in their notebooks. I presume that they did so in order to crack the ideas and not to lose their binding elements. Such method is useful for developing one’s position or statement. The observant of the case also made some records, which makes me think that they had some tasks regarding the court system, as well. In addition, there was a person who was drawing the sketches of the presented parties.
Furthermore, after the plaintiff expressed his position, the judge addressed some questions regarding the issues of violation to the defendant. The judge was attentively listening to everyone’s speeches and making some records, as well. For this reason, the questions directly considered the issues stated by the plaintiff. They were straight and easy to understand, which also indicates that the judge required comparatively easy answers in order to build a comprehensive picture of the case. Additionally, when the defendant needs to answer direct questions, he or she has limited abilities for lying. For instance, if the answers should be “yes” or “no”, it leaves no choice for the discussion of the false evidence. At the same time, in case of lies, it can be clearly formulated. As a consequence, I enjoyed the speech strategies of the judge. Additionally, my expectations of him as a skillful specialist were approved. Basically, it was no wonder because one would not appoint an unskillful person as a judge. Additionally, I paid special attention to the body language of the judge. Thus, despite he was a person of authority, he acted in a casual way. From time to time, he used hand gestures when addressing questions to the parties, which indicates that gestures assisted him in communicating the questions. All in all, I believe that the judge has the key position; he or she is the center of the process, which has other parties “turning around” him or her. In this sense, my expectations were partially correct. Thus, on the one hand, everyone addressed the judge when communicating their positions. On the other hand, the speech initiative was constantly passing from party to party. Consequently, my opinion towards this issue has changed as now I can compare the trial with the process of playing tennis. The judge and the jury serve as referees whereas the defendant’s attorney and the plaintiff use their arguments as a ball. If anyone’s arguments are valid, the “referees” note that his or her scores are better on the basis of relevance to the law and logics. In the opposite case, they are gradually losing their position during the trial, with the failures responding the opponent.
Thus, the position of the defendant was clearly addressed, as well. He used the evidence and the witnesses in order to oppose the plaintiff. In my opinion, from the start of the trial, the plaintiff’s position is more relevant. However, some time after the process, the case has become more complicated for me because of the emerging evidence and facts. I clearly understood that if I had been taking notes, it would have been easier to grasp the main idea and the way the trial goes. Some arguments from the position of the defense seemed non relevant to me, but I remembered that the accused person was innocent unless proved the opposite. I regard this principle important for any court in a democratic country because in this way, the defendant obtains the legal defense before the judge. Therefore, his or her civil rights are protected because no one has the right to do any prejudiced harm to an accused person.
Along with that, I should share my observations of the jury. It consisted of people of different age, gender, and race, which indicated that there is no discrimination in this sphere. I was pleased with it because it showed that the legal system in the country respects fundamental human rights. At the same time, it seemed that some members of the jury treat their duty more seriously than others. Thus, some of them, mainly elderly people, were taking notes whereas the young ones were observing the process without making any notes. Partially, I may explain this by the fact that aged people may either have worse memory or they are more responsible. Anyway, I think that taking notes is an important task for the parties during the trial. The notes may assist in building one’s position when charging or defending a person, which is extremely useful. I also wondered about the level of education among the representatives of the jury because of the race, age and gender variety. I suppose that the jury should have included people with different education and specialties ranging from ordinary workers and secretaries to professors or scientists. The variety of the jury is a crucial aspect because it represents the opinions of people.
Furthermore, I want to render my opinion of the judicial system and the trial regarding the knowledge obtained from the theoretical sources. Thus, I expected that the trial process would be faster despite I was aware of the cases that took several months. However, the attorneys had numerous speeches regarding the case, which made it a bit complicated for me. Additionally, the speech full of legal terms formed in specific sentences made it more difficult to comprehend with time. For this reason, I was tired because I was trying to focus on every aspect of the trial throughout my two-hour presence. At the same time, the greater part of my expectations turned out to be true. In particular, the parties respected the law and were skillfully operating the legal terms and the laws. Additionally, they can be characterized as having respect towards the opponents as well as to the judge. Similarly, no party was acting in a disrespectful manner, which was a pleasure to observe. I have also learned that one should take notes during the trial in order to understand the position of the opponent and build one’s personal strategies of advocacy.
Summarizing the presented information, I should note that my expectations about the trial were approved. Thus, all parties of the process respected each other and the law. In addition, they were skillful specialists who easily operated with complicated legal aspects. As a result, the position of the judge was fair and objective, which could be seen from his speech. Additionally, I observed high standards of professional speech maintained by the practitioners of the court system. Therefore, I presume that the observed insights approve the concepts learned from the theoretical course. I enjoyed my experience at the court, and I suppose that the legal system of the country is fair and law-obedient.