The criminal justice system is an effective institution within the American society, yet very few people have physical encounters with judicial systems in their lifetime, in my most recent explorations I found myself in a federal court looking to experience justice in its crudest form. My point of destination was the Ney York State Court of Appeal that is in Albany, and it represents the highest court in the land because it comprises of the senior-most judges in America. The Chief Justice alongside six other associate judges is given the mandate to focus on broad issues of the law and thus have no jurisdictional limitations. This adds to the importance of this division in ensuring that fairness is maintained within the justice system. Spending time in this particular court was instrumental in defining my perception and view of the judicial system for some reasons.
Setting and Symbolism
The most salient factor within the court was the vastness of the court itself. Walking through its corridors is reminiscent of the proverbial the ‘corridors of justice’ that permeate day-to-day conversations. Besides the majestic portraits of various judges that served in the court of appeal, that line the walls of the courtroom, I was also confronted with the beautiful orderliness that came with the court’s design and architecture. With a seven-bench judge platform at a slightly higher elevation than the rest of the courtroom, an element that allowed for greater exchange with lawyers, but more so for the reinforcement of the status and supremeness of the law. It is hard to ignore the brown wooden finish that lines every other space within the courthouse, giving it a touch of genuineness and reliability
The Ritualistic Elements of Interaction
Processions within the court adhere to a particular predetermined guideline, an element that fosters orderliness within the court. From the moment, the judges enter the courthouses to the moment a hearing ends, honor, silence, and respect is expected to be observed by all the attendees to minimize the degree of conflict and dissonance for the lawyers and the judges. Standing up upon the entry of the judges and not utilizing mobile phones comprise of some of the disciplines that a person has to observe while on the court as I came to learn.
The case of being discussed was that of Haug v. the State University of New York at Potsdam, in which Haug had been accused of sexually assaulting a female student while drunk. The school disciplinary board went on to suspend him, and further expelled upon appealing to the school body. The appeal by Haug was based on an unfair dismissal on sexual misconduct despite the uncertainty regarding the female student’s account. The court went on to reverse the expulsion decision by the school because the female student failed to indicate her position regarding the sexual encounter affirmatively. The appeal court’s role in establishing a basis for justice was once again reinforced through this decision.
There is no doubt regarding the importance of the appeal court within the judicial system. Importantly, however, was the realization that appeals are essential for checks and balances within the justice system not only allowing for the attainment of justice but also for reevaluation of applicability and relevance of various regulatory frameworks within the evolving the societal structure.
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