0 Chapter Nine:Defendants and Victims
0 Defendants and Victims are participants of the courtroom workgroup. Defendants and Victims are both subjects and objects of the criminal justice process.
0 The Defendant Although defendants are the focal point of the criminal justice process, they are generally powerless in controlling their fate.
0 Seriousness of the Crime and Prior Record are the two main determinants of “legal” diversity among defendants within the criminal justice system. First time offender Career Offender
0 As a society, whose “rights” are more important to protect, the defendant’s rights or, the victim’s rights?
0 Victims and Witnesses Witnesses are not necessarily victims, however, victims may be the only witness. Collectively then, the victim and witness provide the raw material for the court process.
0 Victims and Witnesses On one hand, courts value victims because they bring the cases to the criminal justice system. Thus, courts are reactive to the complaints that victims bring.
0 Victims and Witnesses On the other hand, individual victims and witnesses pose a potential source of irrationality in the process.
0 Victims and Witnesses As a result, on one hand, eyewitness testimony can be very convincing to a judge or jury. On the other hand, “mistaken eyewitness identification is responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined,” (Huff et al., 1996).
0 Characteristics of Victims of Violent Crime
0 How do Victim and Offender characteristics interact with the crime of domestic violence?
0 Many defendants who have been arrested for violent crimes were themselves the victims of violent acts as children.
0 Discussion: What was the nature of the Supreme Court decision in Payne vs. Tennessee (1991)? How does it affect victims? Is it sound policy?
0 Questions Since all major stages of the criminal justice process (except the grand jury) are mandated to be open to the public, why do we need a Victim’s Bill of Rights? Should it be a U.S. Constitutional amendment?
0 Questions: What should be the goal of victim’s rights organizations? Who should compensate victims? and, how should we do this? What are the Victim and Witness Protection Act (1982) and the Victim of Crimes Act (1984)?