According to Ch. 9, the courtroom work group is all the professional courtoom personel, the judges, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, public defenders, and any others who are considered courtroom workers.
These groups fulfill many functions, and all of their roles are interdependent. These groups have frequent and ongoing relationships in which they interact in a wide variety of manners and settings. Judges fulfill roles such as issuing warrants; making probable cause determinations; granting or denying bail; presiding over hearings; ruling on motions; and presiding over trials. Prosecuting attorneys represent the state in criminal cases. Defense attorneys, who may be privately retained or appointed, ensure that the defendant's rights are protected and defend their client throughout criminal proceedings. Other work group actors include law clerks, court clerks and administrators, jurors, witnesses, police officers, and the news media.
Prosecutors are responsible for presenting a state's case against the defendant.
Prosecutors can also take a broader perspective. They have what is called “prosecutorial discretion.” Prosecutors can look at all the circumstances of a case, including the suspect’s past criminal record, in deciding whether and what to charge. Prosecutors can file charges on all crimes for which the police arrested a suspect, can file charges that are more or less severe than the charges leveled by the police, or can decide not to file any charges at all.
If the criteria for taking a case were more stringent, lawyers would specialize to a greater degree in order to maintain caseload; otherwise, they would have fewer cases. If the criteria were less stringent, they would be able to generalize their practice to a greater degree. In addition, if criteria were more stringent, fewer criminals could be tried by prosecutors.
Chapter 9. Crimial Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century....