The Criminal Justice system, and specifically law enforcement, have a very large responsibility when it comes to fulfilling their role of getting offenders of the law off streets and into the penal system where they can be punished and rehabilitated. In addition, law enforcement can be held to an even higher level of scrutiny simply due to the nature of their jobs. There are very strict procedures in order to ensure the rights of the accused, found in the Fifth Amendment, are preserved–in addition to the rights given to the people outlining searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment. However, this job can become difficult, in-depth, and full of necessary procedures in order to make sure the case cannot be scrutinized–or lends itself to the least amount of scrutiny–when going to the actual trial. In fact, in many cases the presentation can depend on different and open-ended Constitutional interpretations Judge by Judge. There are also legislative hurdles that law enforcement agents must be mindful of in order to preserve the prior decisions in the American court system, or precedent cases. The American judicial system has a very big part in dictating the American criminal justice system by placing protections for the accused imbedded in the Constitution that absolutely must be preserved by law enforcement–as well as procedures in which they must follow due to prior court cases and decisions–in addition to the different Constitutional interpretations in play constantly, varying by judge to judge like a pendulum.
Looking at the big picture, it is the job of the Judicial System to put into place, and to enforce legislation, precedence, as well as Constitutional Rights. Although the Judicial System is ultimately responsible for the sentencing and punishment of convicted criminals, it is easy to forget the other impacts that they can have on criminal justice. Simply looking at the Joseph Goldstein, as well as the Reuter’s articles, they revolved around New York City’s controversial “stop and frisk” law that allowed for unreasonable searches and seizures based on nothing besides law enforcement intuition. The entire stop and frisk dilemma outlines the main ideals of this thesis perfectly–a law was enacted to stop a certain type of crime, and the law was abused. The law then went in front of a judge who agreed on its abuse, and used Judicial Review to strike it down. This is a perfect and unrivaled metaphor for the impact the judicial system can have on law enforcement–most police officers, as well as the Mayor and the Police commissioner disagree with the Federal Judge’s decision–but that does not by any stretch of the imagination imply that they do not still have to follow her words to a tee, preserving the American Criminal Justice System. Once a judge strikes down a law or previous decision, in the adversarial United States Court system, that law or decision becomes void. The decision can then be appealed–unless it was handed down by the Supreme Court–to a higher court, who then can render their decision. This, in fact, is what is going on with the stop and frisk decision–it is being appealed to a higher court. The different parts of the US Criminal Justice system, due to its heavy reliance on precedence in the courtroom as well as its adversarial nature, are dependant on the Courts to preserve law.
Goldstein, Joseph. “Judge Rejects New York’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy.” Nytimes.com. N.p., 12 Aug. 2013. Web.
“Judge Names Research Group Chief to Help Reform New York Police ‘Stop and Frisk’ Policy.” NYtimes.com. Reuters, 04 Sept. 2013. Web.
“Fifth Amendment.” LII. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2013. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fifth_amendment>.
“Fourth Amendment.” LII. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2013. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fourth_amendment>.
“Theories of Constitutional Interpretation.” Theories of Constitutional Interpretation. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2013. <http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/interp.html>.