The American Legal System
In American legal profession stratification is evident. The profession has been monopolized by state’s judiciary generation after generation. This has resulted to limited participation of the public in the provision of legal services. Stratification ensures that only few citizens are trained and licensed as legal professionals. The majority of people are unable to afford legal services of currently existing lawyers whose number is too small as compared to the big number of population.
A close analysis of American legal system shows that it is organized along some hierarchical lines. Inequalities among legal professionals are also evident. These are based mostly on educational credentials. American law schools are monolithic and class status cannot be achieved due to differences among students. In these schools, stratification structures have been there for ages. Status in the legal profession is allocated on the basis of educational tiers, ranks, and the whole process of evaluation.
The gap between lawyers and non-lawyers in the society is very wide. Lawyers are perceived to be elite upper-class professionals. They belong to a class of citizens with higher status. Because of this, they exhibit upper-class ideals in their behaviors after schooling. In the society, lawyers form an alienated class of people. They portray a different culture through their Aristocratic manner and styles.
Lawyers are called to act prominent roles in the society. However, stratification structures make them to portray tendencies that they hold very high ranks in the society. They want to be treated as privileged people who possess more talents than other members of the society. They have a feeling of superiority that they are masters of a very crucial science which is not generally known (Levy et al, 2000).
Conclusively, stratification leads to the perception that they possess power, wealth, and are a noble authority or ‘men of the letters’.
Plea bargaining is also known as plea agreement. In a criminal case, a defendant can agree to plead guilty to charges presented by the prosecutor for some agreed concession. This means that the defendant will plead guilty of a less serious charge in order to be dismissed of other serious charges. It may also happen that he/she plead guilty to the original crime with which he/she was charged in order to get a more lenient sentence.
Both parties in plea bargain are assured of shorter criminal trial. In the US many favor this to jury trial. However, the bargain must be approved by the court. Defendants always accept responsibility and this reduces prosecutor’s work of proving beyond reasonable doubt. Reducing the trial time is reflected by reduction of the sentence (Levy et al, 2000).
Critics of plea bargaining argue that it has a close relationship with threats, rewards, and coercion that can endanger the correct legal outcome. It also infringes rights of an individual. The defendant is led to plead guilty while agreeing in advance with the sentence he/she will be given. People who could have been released due to lack of evidence do plead guilty despite their innocence.
Cases of plea bargaining lead to situations where suspects are made to testify against the other. Another situation can involve a defendant who cannot afford bail while being held in jail. Such victim may opt to get a shorter sentence than the time he would spend awaiting full trail. Similarly, a prosecutor may opt for this agreement if he considers his chances of winning a case being less instead of dropping the case completely. A prosecutor and the defense lawyer may enter such an agreement to maintain their good relationship. To the society, plea bargaining is an assurance that the guilty do not escape responsibility.
Advantages and Disadvantages of an Elected Judiciary
There is a controversy about the issue of elected or appointed judiciary. Both have advantages and disadvantages. First of all, the advantage of an elected judiciary is that by the virtue of being elected, there is a high possibility of them to be loyal to people. They may be compelled to use their power and prestige to serve people fairly.
Secondly, election of judiciary may eliminate impartiality in courts. Proponents of this school of thought argue that election of judges is likely to assure more protection of individual rights especially of those of minorities.
Like in political field, in order to guarantee their re-election, judges are likely to execute justice well. They will, therefore, be afraid to go against the public opinion. Election will also make judges responsible before people who elected them.
On the other hand, one of the disadvantages of electing judges is that it can be difficult for people to know which person will become a better judge. Judiciary is supposed to be composed of the best legal scholars who will correctly interpret and apply the law. Another disadvantage is that failure of people to distinguish between two candidates may lead to a decision being made on the basis of irrelevant matters of presentation and politics (Levy et al, 2000).
Election of judges may also be affected by corruption in order to influence voters’ decisions.. This will be traded off with justice. On the same note, election leads to campaign debts which can ruin the administration justice. Further, judges may easily accept bribes to regain huge amounts of money that they may have spent during election campaigns.