Adjudicatory Hearing or Trial Term Paper

Pages: 12 (3833 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice - Juvenile Delinquency  ·  Written: April 17, 2017

As these hearings are carried out with unprepared parties, justice is compromised since the juveniles are forced to take a guilty plea, which may not necessarily be an accurate representation of the case facts.

Secondly, some juvenile court judges have been found to interrupt witness examinations or prematurely stop questioning by lawyers during adjudicatory hearings. In the current operations of the juvenile justice systems, judges seem to interrupt lawyers by asking their own questions during adjudicatory hearings. This compromises the procedural justice since lawyers are not given adequate time to exercise their responsibilities during the hearing. The interruptions interfere with one of the rights guaranteed by relevant policies in the juvenile justice system i.e. the right for an accused person to be represented by an attorney during a trial in a court of law.

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The third trend in adjudicatory hearing that contributes to lack of procedural justice in adjudicatory hearing is the fact that some judges appear to have pre-determined decisions based on their knowledge of the child or juvenile's previous criminal record. As previously indicated, one of the most important considerations for a judge during adjudicatory hearing is examining the juvenile's background with regards to personal history and criminal record. This consideration is important towards determining the most suitable disposition measure to enforce on the accused individual upon conviction (DiPietro, 2008). Recent reports have indicated that judges utilize such knowledge against the young offender through making pre-determined decisions without careful evaluation of the case facts. Actually, court workers have stated that such knowledge creates a bias in the judge and decisions that are against the juvenile.

Term Paper on Adjudicatory Hearing or Trial Assignment

The bias created in the judge through assessment of the juvenile's background also compromises the requirement for guilt to be proven beyond reasonable doubt in adjudicatory hearings/trials. In this regard, judges sometimes found an accused juvenile guilty of the charges filed against him/her based on their previous criminal record even when the evidence is insufficient to warrant a conviction.

The other cause of lack of procedural justice as shown in recent trends in adjudicatory trials is rushed court proceedings. Unlike court processes involving adult offenders, those involving juvenile offenders are seemingly carried out very quickly (Ainsworth, 1996). While this could be attributable to the 120-day time limit for determination of cases during adjudicatory trials, the process is sometimes carried out very quickly. The speedy proceedings hinder the ability of the accused juvenile to have a fair hearing. As a result of speedy trials, the settings in adjudicatory hearings sometimes lack the necessary seriousness that guarantee procedural justice and a fair trial for the accused juvenile. This essentially means that the juvenile setting in which adjudicatory hearing is conducted is characterized by procedural weaknesses that appear worse than the deficiencies in the adult criminal justice system.

Delay in the Legal System/Procedures

While some cases are usually conducted very quickly, the second major problematic facet of adjudicatory hearings is delay in the legal procedures. Edwards (2007) argue that the legal system is characterized by delays, which also occur in the adjudicatory hearings or cases involving juveniles. The delay in determination of the issues in adjudicatory hearings take place despite the need to conclude the trial within a period of four months. According to Zimmer et al. (2010) adjudicatory hearing is one of the most important aspects of juvenile delinquency cases that must be conducted on time in order to promote effective management of caseflow. The existing policies regarding adjudicatory hearing require the trials to be subject to time standards in order to ensure proper caseflow management. However, current procedures in adjudicatory hearings do not necessarily observe time standards since they are characterized by delays. Similar to the lack of procedural justice, these delays affect the juvenile's ability to receive fair trial in light of the issues in the case and the relevant laws.

The increased delays in adjudicatory hearings are brought by the increased likelihood of a continuance, which is defined as a legal order through which court proceedings are either adjourned to another day or concluded (Edwards, 2007). Summers & Shdaimah (2013) contend that a continuance acts as one of the major sources for delays in adjudicatory hearings. Continuances end up causing delays in adjudicatory hearings through causing interruptions in processes and events leading to the trial though they do not interrupt permanency time. These interruptions ultimately damage case efficiency by generating additional burdens to those attending court proceedings. Actually, delays cause emotional stress on the various parties involved in the case because it exacerbates issues relating to the custody, care and control of the accused juvenile.

The second major reason for delays in adjudicatory hearings is the complex legal and social issues relating to juvenile cases. These complex issues emerge from the need to consider the interests of at least three major parties to the case i.e. the child or accused juvenile, the parents/caregivers, and the agency. The different parties to the case have to contend with different issues that not only relate to the facts of the case but also deal with care of the accused child or juvenile. The consideration of the relatively complex issues of each of these parties end up generating more delays since the interests of all parties is crucial towards granting the accused juvenile a fair trial.

Huge Caseloads

The third problematic issue facing adjudicatory hearing in juvenile courts is huge caseloads that court workers have to handle. Caseflow management has become an important issue in contemporary adjudicatory hearings as evidenced by the establishment of time standards to govern the speed of resolving juvenile cases (Zimmer et al., 2010). The effective management of caseloads is considered as an important element in juvenile cases because the conclusion of adjudicatory hearing does not necessarily imply the conclusion of the case. According to Edwards (2007), the conclusion of adjudication hearing in a juvenile case does not mark the conclusion of a case, but the end of one of the stages in the case. Adjudication hearings progress from one phase to another unlike an ordinary civil case in which disposition is considered as the conclusion of the trial. Adjudicatory hearings proceed to other stages until a permanent placement for the juvenile and suitable corrective measures are established. Given the progression in adjudicatory hearings, caseflow management is a crucial aspect of guaranteeing fair trials in adjudicatory hearings.

However, since court workers are faced with huge caseloads, the realization of fair trials during adjudicatory hearings is compromised because of the difficulties in achieving effective caseflow management. Huge caseloads affect fairness in adjudicatory hearings through affecting the dedication and efforts of court workers, especially lawyers, to represent their clients effectively despite their good intentions (Ainsworth, 1996). The other measures through which huge caseloads hinder fairness in adjudicatory hearings is generating difficulties in carrying out factual investigations, creating challenges in development of appropriate disposition alternatives, and complicating meetings between lawyers and their clients. This essentially means that huge caseloads serve as platforms for additional burdens to court workers, particularly lawyers, which in turn compromises procedural justice and fairness in adjudicatory hearings.

Parental Involvement Challenges

One of the major parties in an adjudicatory hearing or trial is parents, whose involvement in these trials is crucial given the role they play in the development of the child during childhood and adolescence. Regardless of the specific role parents play in the adjudicatory hearings, their active involvement is considered crucial in the juvenile justice system (Burke et al., 2014). The significance of parental involvement in these trials is evident in the fact that they act as one of the major parties to a case. In disposition hearing, parents are considered as one of the alternatives of disposition placement of the child. While the juvenile justice system recognizes the significance of parents in adjudicatory hearings, there are some parental involvement challenges that have considerable impact on the fairness and procedural justice in these trials. According to Burke et al. (2014), juvenile justice and child welfare staffs seem to be in a confrontational position with parents.

The nature of the operations of adjudicatory hearings appear to place parents in an adversarial position though they are one of the most important parties in these trials. The adversarial position can be attributable to the delicate balance of engaging with parents positively while achieving the ultimate goal of protecting the child. This is a major challenge given that one of the foundational concepts of the operation of adjudicatory hearing is the doctrine of parens patriae. This doctrine seemingly contradicts the empowerment of parents in adjudicatory hearing through emphasis on child protection in such trials. Due to the seeming adversarial position of parents, adjudicatory hearings are characterized by parental involvement challenges, which affect the overall operation and outcomes of these trials.

Failure to Achieve Timely Permanency

Timely permanency is one of the most important aspects of a fair trial in adjudicatory hearing. According to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Adjudicatory Hearing or Trial.  (2017, April 17).  Retrieved September 18, 2020, from

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"Adjudicatory Hearing or Trial."  April 17, 2017.  Accessed September 18, 2020.