Cases and Resources
14: Criminal Justice Process: The Trial
Trial by Jury
Right to a Speedy
and Public Trial
Right to Compulsory Process
and to Confront Witnesses
Freedom From Self-Incrimination
Right to an Attorney
to Trial by Jury
or Judge Trial: Which Is Better?
Examine this short explanation of which type of trial is better
for specific cases. Look at the factors that defendants might
consider before choosing to have a jury trial.
by Jury: The Historical Background
This article describes the history of the jury in the American
legal system and why juries are still an influential element.
Why were juries first designated as part of the system? Have
juries always made the wisest decisions?
Dire: Creating the Jury
The Constitutional Rights Foundation has a site for students
and teachers to learn more about the process of selecting
juries. Read an explanation of the process of voir dire and
click on the links to other resources or cases that are relevant
to this issue.
Explore information provided for both lawyers and pro se litigants
on selecting a jury. This article discusses the background
of juries, questions that can help identify which jurors will
not help your case, and ways to appear more likable to the
jury that is chosen. Do you think lawyers should use special
strategies to choose a jury that is more likely to agree with
Read a summary of the case or link to the full text of the
decision by the Supreme Court allowing juries to be comprised
of six, rather than 12, jurors. What was the defendant on
trial for in this case? What are the arguments for both sides?
Browse a summary of the case that made it illegal for race
to be used as a reason to excuse jurors from service. Why
did the prosecution in this case dismiss several possible
jurors who were black? Upon what did the Court base its decision?
You may also link to the full text of the decision or listen
to the oral arguments from this site.
This case allows verdicts to be handed down by juries that
could not reach a unanimous agreement. Of a 12-person jury,
only nine must agree for a decision to be final in this state.
From this site, you can also read the full opinion or listen
to the oral arguments of this case.
Main Steps of Jury Trial
Learn about the three main steps of a jury trial. The selection
of the jury, the actual trial, and jury deliberations are
all discussed in separate links.
Read this article to learn more about this interesting concept
and how jury nullifications can have a great impact on the
legal system. Do you think jury nullification is ever justified?
to a Speedy and Public Trial
Rationale and What a Speedy Trial Means
Read this explanation of the scope and reasoning behind the
guarantee of a speedy trial. What does it mean to have a speedy
This story of a black teenager describes the denial of a speedy
trial. Do you believe this denial was racially motivated?
How long has this person been waiting for a trial?
Examine the Supreme Court case that affirms the right to a
to Compulsory Process and to Confront Witnesses
Process: The Sixth Amendment
FindLaw offers an explanation of the Sixth Amendment and what
compulsory process means. What are criminal defendants guaranteed
based on this amendment?
for Vulnerable Witnesses
There are some who are concerned that compulsory process forces
vulnerable witnesses, such as children or crime victims, to
testify before an accused criminal. Some courts allow children
and other witnesses in this situation to testify in ways that
will protect them from coming face-to-face with the suspect.
Is this fair?
Explore the Supreme Court case that addresses the separation
of child victims of crime and the controversy between protecting
these witnesses and fulfilling the suspect’s right to
confront the witnesses against him or her. What did the Court
decide? Do you agree?
The Fifth Amendment
FindLaw offers an explanation of the Fifth Amendment and the
meaning of self-incrimination. Why is this right included
in the Constitution?
Fifth Amendment and the Innocent
There is a common misconception that the Fifth Amendment is
only meant to protect guilty people. Read this story of a
babysitter who refused to answer questions in the trial of
the death of a baby. The baby’s father was the suspect,
but the babysitter invoked the Fifth Amendment. Why would
someone who is not being accused of a crime invoke the Fifth
The government can offer immunity to a person who may incriminate
himself or herself by answering questions. If the government
promises not to prosecute an individual based on self-incriminating
statements, a person may be more willing to provide valuable
information that can aid the prosecution in apprehending and
trying more serious criminals. Read a news story in which
this tactic is used.
to an Attorney
of Right to Counsel
This article describes the history of the right to counsel.
How far back in time does the article reach to find reasons
for this right? What events led to this right becoming so
important to the American legal system?
This consumer page offers advice and warnings to people looking
for a lawyer. Read the article and identify the ways to choose
a lawyer who best fits your needs.
Explore this landmark Supreme Court case and accompanying
resources that explain the significance of this case. Under
what circumstances does this decision guarantee a lawyer for
Browse a summary of the case that expanded the right to counsel
from suspects charged with certain felonies to those charged
with misdemeanors as well. You may also read the full text
of the opinion from this site or listen to the oral arguments
of the case.
Analyze statistics dealing with the defense of individuals
who cannot afford to hire their own counsel.
ACLU on Indigent Defense
Examine current news articles and opinions on the issues of
defending indigent clients. Read about the rights of indigent
defendants and how the defense of suspects living in poverty
may be undermined due to poverty.
Criminal Appeals: Statistics
Review statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice associated
with criminal appeals in federal courts.
Read an explanation of habeas corpus and how the petition
works. Learn about significant court cases that have defined
the scope of habeas corpus.
Appeal v. Habeas Corpus
Learn how criminal appeals and habeas corpus are related and
how the two concepts are different.