The Rule of Law

There are various procedural aspects of our criminal justice system including due process rights, jurisdiction, discovery, and various other legal considerations and requirements from arrest through conviction and appeal. There are many legal issues that may arise in a single case. How the United States legal system addresses each of these issues can affect the outcome of a trial and ultimately whether justice is served. Review each of the short articles reporting issues arising from the prosecution of a Philip Chism, a teen accused of brutally murdering his teacher, and answer the following questions.

Motion to suppress evidence: Judge Denies Tossing Evidence in Chism Trial
Change of venue: Chism Lawyers Seek Change of Venue
Pleas and plea bargains: Teen Charged in Teacher Slaying May Use Insanity Defense
Appeal: Chism Lawyers Appeal Release of Police Interrogation
Public and open trial: Judge: Public Can See Questioning of Teen Accused of Killing Teacher

1. Should the judge in this case consider the defense’s motion to suppress the confession made by the teen to police?

2. What is the purpose of excluding evidence from a trial thus not allowing a jury to ever hear or consider evidence that may incriminate a defendant?

3. Defense lawyers for Chism sought to keep his video confession to police sealed before trial. The trial judge denied their motion and the defense has appealed that decision. Should Chism’s confession remain hidden from public view before trial or does the public have a right to see it?

4. Should Chism’s attorneys be allowed to use the insanity defense to protect their client? In our legal system, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Is a defendant presumed sane until proven insane?

5. Lawyers for Chism have argued that news coverage has violated his right to a fair trial and therefore have requested the trial be moved. Should the judge grant this motion? Does media coverage and public display of evidence affect the ability to receive a trial from a fair and impartial jury?

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