The Justice System in the USA and Canada
There were 13 original colonies in the USA.
American Population c. 1760
- Virginia/Maryland: 312,000 white 189,000 black
- N & S Carolina, Georgia: 119,00 white 94,000 black
- S Carolina: 36,00 white 57,000 black
US emerged very differently through colonial experiences. What linked these colonies
together: shared common language, shared similar geography, shared distrust in
powerful central governments.
A number of cases that developed in the deep south were dealt with independantly
(state justice system). Outcomes sometimes ran against the central US government.
US Federal government
A) House of Representatives
President can override anything passed by Congress
F) Criminal Codes
There are 50 different states in the USA and each of them has their own Criminal Code
Criminal Court Process
by county sheriff
by state police
To see if the prosecution indeed has a case to make against the defence.
To keep a limit on prosecutors; make sure they don't abuse their limits.
- Arraingnment Judiciary
-Of limited jurisdiction
-Of general jurisdiction
Can hear regular murder cases
Can hear appeals from lower level courts
-Appeals and courts of last resort
- Federal Jurisdictions:
Courts of Appeal
Supreme Court of the United States
*No retirement age for US Supreme Court Judges*
1984 Sandra O'Connor is the first lady Supreme Court Justices
2187D Vari Hall 1230-130 Fridays (Tentative)
Themes of the course:
- the law is organic (fluidity); shaped by the social political and economic aspects of
each area; it evolves and changes over time
- does gender play a role? class? ethnicity?
- the law is historically contingent; the way the law is administered is affected by the
different social, political and economic factors
- change over time
There is a tendency for male chivalry in the judicial system. Men-dominated areas, such
as the jury, tend to not convict women.Male chivalry cannot fully explain this but it is
certainly an aspect. They didn't have the same opportunities to murder either. Large
majority of women, historically and today, are convicted of killing their children. Today
14% of murder convictions are women. Hilda Blake - 21 yr old servant maid and killed her owner
July 5, 1899, she killed her employer. December 27, 1899 she was executed; hung.
Born in 1879 in Norfolk England. Not an exceptionally wealthy family. Orphaned at the
age of 10.
In 1892, 11 yr old Hilda Blake was put on a steam boat from England to Halifax,
separated from her brother, went to Manitoba and she found herself settled with a
farming family as a maid. Wasn't particularly happy. Hilda ran away when she was 12,
but the family sought legal action. She left after a year and left for Winnipeg. In 1898
she was in Brandon, Manitoba. Robert and Mary Lane. Robert was a successful carter.
Became the biggest hauler in Brandon.
On July 5, 1899 while Hilda was hanging curtains. Hilda walked up to Mary and shot her
twice in the back in short range from a pistol. Mary collapsed in the street and died
before the doctor arrived. Hilda's story was that a tramp came to the back door asking
for food from Mary, Mary refused and the tramp shot her before he got away. When
Hilda said the killer was a tramp many people believed it. Anyone not Anglo was taken
in for questioning (beginning of racial profiling). Suspicion soon landed on Hilda. A gun
dealer was able to confirm that Hilda did purchase a gun and bullets. Hilda admitted her
guilt and wanted her to be shot right then. Pleaded guilty. We are left to speculate why
she had killed her mistress. Very difficult to find out anything as Hilda did not testify and
because of the place she lands upon the social scale. While she was in jail she wrote a
poem which was published in the newspaper, named "My Downfall". She comments on
the devil which brought her to this place. She may have been raped, but more likely, she
had indeed been having a consensual affair with Robert Lane. She killed Mary Lane in
hopes that she would be the new Mrs. Lane. Campaigns were started to have her
pardoned. Much of the sympathy for Hilda was believed to be because she was
betrayed by her lover. From her execution to 1924, Hilda was only one of two women
whom were executed.
Lizzie Borden - killed both her parents in Mass. (look her up on the internet)
Lizzie and Emma were both spinsters. Spinsters were past the age of marriage. Lizzie
was a bright woman and wanted more from life than marriage. Despite Andrew's wealth,
they did not live well. August 4, 1892, Lizzie, her mother and the servant had been in the
house. Between 9 AM and 930AM Lizzie's step-mom was killed by an axe, struck 19
times. Andrew was killed when he was sleeping. Lizzie's story was that she was outside
and heard a groan and came inside. The doctor came in and examined both bodies.
The Mother's blood was congealed where Andrew's was not. For this reason Lizzie was
the only one that could be held responsible. The relationship between Lizzie and her
parents were slowly deteriorating. Lizzie and her sister were concerned that their
Father's inheritance was going to their step-mother. Lizzie was know to be a shoplifter.
Lizzie had tried to purchase poison the day before. Immediately afterwards the coroner
summoned an inquest. Lizzie was called to the inquest. At the inquest she was
questioned by the District Attorney. The most important question was where had she of
been when her step-mother was killed. She also denied trying to buy the poison. Later that day Lizzie was arrested and tried for the hearing. Prosecution's evidence was
circumstantial, nothing that could tie Lizzie to the murders. From mid to late November a
Grand Jury hearing was held. Alice Russell was a witness. She had been asked to stay
at the house after the murders for moral support. A day after the mayor went to the
Borden's house and announced that Lizzie was named a suspect, she was found
burning a blue dress, the same clothing that she was believed to be wearing at the time
of the murders and she changed from shortly thereafter. After hearing Russell's
testimony, a vote of 20-1 from the Grand Jury indicted her. She was accused of
premeditated murder. The trial opened on June 5th 1893. The jury was all male, all
traditional farmers. Evidence: no evidence of a robbery or forced entry, burning of the
dress, Lizzie's statement. In spite of these points the prosecution came to many
obstacles. Her statement was not allowed to be used as evidence as a lawyer was not
present. The statement from the inquest was not used as evidence. The evidence of the
purchase of poison was also inadmissible. Lizzie did not testify herself. Emma testified;
she said that Lizzie purchased the dress three months before and quickly faded, Emma
suggest it to use it while painting or get rid of it and the blame for the burning of the
dress was placed on Emma and not Lizzie. The real defence was popular opinion. Most
people believed that a person of Lizzie's status could not possible be responsible for
such a h