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Discussion Chapter 2: The Legal System in the United States

Two Different Trials—Two Different Results

O. J. Simpson was prosecuted criminally and sued civilly for the murder and wrongful death of victims Ron Goldman and his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. In the criminal prosecution, which came first, the US Constitution provided O. J. Simpson with the right to a fair trial (due process) and the right to remain silent (privilege against self-incrimination). Thus the burden of proof was beyond a reasonable doubt, and O. J. Simpson did not have to testify. O. J. Simpson was acquitted, or found not guilty, in the criminal trial (Linder, D., 2010). In the subsequent civil lawsuit, the burden of proof was preponderance of evidence, which is 51–49 percent, and O. J. Simpson was forced to testify. O. J. Simpson was found liable in the civil lawsuit. The jury awarded $8.5 million in
compensatory damages to Fred Goldman (Ron Goldman’s father) and his ex-wife Sharon Rufo. A few days later, the jury awarded punitive damages of $25 million to be shared between Nicole Brown Simpson’s children and Fred Goldman (Jones, T. L., 2010).

1. Do you think it is ethical to give criminal defendants more legal protection than civil defendants? Why or why not?

2. Why do you think the criminal trial of O. J. Simpson took place before the civil trial? 

Exercise: Chapter 2: The Legal System in the United States

Answer the following questions and make sure your response is 100 words or more for each.

 

1. Jerry, a law enforcement officer, pulls Juanita over for speeding. When Jerry begins writing Juanita’s traffic ticket, she starts to berate him and accuse him of racial profiling. Jerry surreptitiously reaches into his pocket and activates a tape recorder. Juanita later calls the highway patrol where Jerry works and files a false complaint against Jerry. Jerry sues Juanita for $500 in small claims court for filing the false report. He uses the tape recording as evidence. Is this a civil litigation matter or a criminal prosecution?

2. Read Johnson v. Pearce, 148 N.C.App. 199 (2001). In this case, the plaintiff sued the defendant for criminal conversation. Is this a civil litigation matter or a criminal prosecution? 

 

3. Jenna sues Max for $25,000, based on a car accident that occurs in Indiana. Jenna loses at trial and appeals to the highest state appellate court in Indiana, where she loses again. Can Jenna appeal her case to the US Supreme Court? Why or why not?

Case Study: Chapter 2: The Legal System in the United States


* Please make sure that your response is 100 words or more for each question/statement. *

 

Read the prompt, review the case, and then decide whether enough evidence exists to meet the burden of proof. 

 

1. The defendant was convicted of possession of a handgun with an altered serial number. The defendant contended that he 
did not know the serial number had been altered. The prosecution offered evidence that the gun was “shiny” in the location of the serial number. The prosecution also proved that the defendant was in possession of the handgun for a week. Is this sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the serial number had been altered? Read 
Robles v. State, 758 N.E.2d 581 (2001). The case is available at this link: 

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7369971752262973607&q= Indiana+2001+%22Robles+v.+State%22&hl=en&as_sdt=2,5Links to an external site.
.

  2. The defendant was convicted of attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer when he shot a sheriff. The defendant contended that he 
did not know the victim was a peace officer. The sheriff was in a vehicle with a whip antenna, was armed, and was well known as a sheriff in Angola Prison, where the defendant was incarcerated previous to the shooting incident. However, the sheriff was in an unmarked car with the red light covered, out of uniform, and his badge was obscured. Is this sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the victim was a peace officer? Read 
Donahue v. Burl Cain, 231 F.3d 1000 (2000). The case is available at this link: 

http://openjurist.org/231/f3d/1000/larry-donahue-v-burl-cainLinks to an external site.

 3. The defendant was convicted of third-degree robbery, which requires a threat of immediate use of physical force. The defendant entered a McDonald’s restaurant twenty minutes before closing dressed in sunglasses, a leather jacket, and a bandana that covered his hair. The defendant beckoned the clerk and thereafter demanded that she put money from different cash register drawers into his bag. The defendant did not appear armed, nor did he raise his voice or verbally threaten the clerk. Is this sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant threatened immediate use of physical force? Read 
State v. Hall, 966 P.2d 208 (1998). 

4. The defendant was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to sell. The defendant possessed seven individual packages of white powdery substance, but only one package was tested (and it tested positive for cocaine). Is this sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant possessed cocaine with intent to sell? Read 
Richards v. Florida, No. 4008-4216 (2010). The case is available at this link: 

http://www.4dca.org/opinions/June%202010/06-09-10/4D08-4216.op.w-dissent.pdfLinks to an external site.

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