Criminal justice

October 6, 2021

 

Criminal justice

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Introduction

The murder of Christopher Wallace, also known as Notorious B.I.G, in 9th March 1997 triggered controversies due to the alleged involvement of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in the rapper’s brutal murder. The family of the deceased brought a wrongful death suit against the LAPD but the Court declared a mistrial, holding that there had intentional concealment of material information by the LAPD in relation to the murder. (Sullivan, 2005). 

As to the witnesses that would aid the prosecution in proving its case, the mother of the deceased, the two persons who accompanied the deceased in his car, as well as the driver, “G-Money” Young would be a good choice as they would speak to what happened on the material day (Sullivan, 2005). Similarly, Eugene deal, Puffy Comb’s former bodyguard would help in drawing a nexus between the death of the deceased and Amir Muhammad, the alleged killer. For the defence, the main witnesses would be members of the LAPD, especially Benard Packs, who would be able to give the rationale behind directing the investigating officer to cease all investigations against the suspected killers of the deceased and probably show that the claims by the victim’s family are devoid of foundation (Duke, 2011).

The criminal process has a number of key stages. It begins from trial initiation and plea taking, selection of the members making of opening statements by the parties’ counsel, presentation of evidence and making of closing arguments, at which stage the parties’ counsel highlight their key submissions to the Court and the jury (Paperno, 2012). Thereafter, the jury retires to deliberate and finally, renders a verdict, in favor of either of the parties. 

At the opening statement stage of the trial, the prosecution and the defence highlight the main facts, evidence and arguments they intend to make during the case. (Gitchel & OBrien, 2006). A good opening statement for the prosecution in the B.I.G trial would be that, “This is a case of abuse of public trust. It is a case where those obligated to protect civilians breach public trust and instead, work with gangsters. The prosecution shall demonstrate that the deceased was murdered by members of the LAPD, in conjunction Death Row Records and that there are sufficient grounds for the jury to convict the accused persons.” 

A closing statement, on the other hand, is made at the end of the trial, at which point both counsel for the prosecution sum up their case by tying all the evidence adduced during the trial to the arguments and theories presented. (Schmalleger,2015). At this point, they urge the Court and the jury to find in their clients favour. A closing statement for the prosecution in the B.I.G case would be “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, too much information has been presented before you regarding the murder of the deceased herein. From the evidence, it is now clear, more than ever before, that the accused members of the LAPD intentionally colluded with the Death Row Records to cause the death of the deceased. I urge you to do the fair thing and convict the accused persons in this case.”

Direct examination of witnesses is done when the witnesses start their testimony and they are asked by the party calling those witnesses to testify in favour of their case. The aim of asking such questions is to elicit certain evidence that would aid the Court in deciding of the issues before it. These questions, however, should not be closed-ended and should allow witnesses to give their account of events relating to the case before Court. In cross examination, witnesses are examined by the opposing party to ensure that the evidence they give is true and reliable. As such, any contradictions emerging from cross examination could render the evidence given unreliable or lower its probative value.  Unlike direct examination, parties and their lawyers have the liberty to pose leading questions during cross-examination. 

References

Duke, A. (2011, Apr). FBI reveals documents in Biggie Smalls death probe. CNN.com. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/04/08/biggie.smalls.files/ 

Gitchel, W. D., & OBrien, M. T. (2006). Trial advocacy basics. South Bend: National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA).

Paperno, J. (2012). Representing the accused: A practical guide to criminal defense. United States: Aspatore.

Schmalleger, Frank. (2015). Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. Pearson Education Inc.

Sullivan, R. (2005). The unsolved mystery of the notorious B.I.G. Rolling Stone 989, 124.

 

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