Court Assignment

Court Assignment:

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Part 1

The last court case that I attended was in November 18th 2011 in Columbus, Ohio where Columbus Steel Castings was accused of violating the Clean Air Act which requires companies to avoid polluting the air. The company was by two organizations namely: Grange Insurance and Physicians Clinics since these two organizations serve those that live in the region. The case titled, Columbus Steel Casting Company was a criminal case and was presided by US attorney, Carter Stewart. The case was presented by Ohio EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). I watched most part of the proceeding including the direct testimony and the direct examination.

Part 2

The 1st procedure of the court proceedings that I watched was the direct examination of witnesses by the attorney. Several witnesses were called to appear at the court majority who were citizens who lived in the Columbus neighborhood near the factory. The attorney examined each of the witnesses who told the court how the company polluted the air around the neighborhood. One of the witnesses told the court that the company produced a lot of dust and smoke into the air. The attorney frequently asked the witnesses questions which they replied to. Therefore, this session was a direct examination session as the witnesses responded to the questions asked by the attorney as opposed to a cross- examination session where witnesses are examined by different lawyers (Champion, 2005).

Apart from the direct examination procedure, I also watched the direct testimony session where the attorney called some witnesses who gave their stories on how the company’s pollution had affected them. One witness told the court that he had developed asthma due to the company polluting the environment. The witnessed said that he was diagnosed with asthma in June 12th 2011. The witnessed said that he never had any respiratory disease and that he contacted asthma as a result of the smoke and dust produced by the company. The witnessed also reported that his 8-years old son was developing lung cancer due to the heavy pollution by the company. Other several Columbus residents also testified to have developed other respiratory diseases.

Some doctors and nurses from the Columbus Medical Hospital were also among those who testified. On doctor reported that the number of patients diagnosed with respiratory diseases had rises drastically over the past five years. He reported that 200 people had been diagnosed with asthma in the town.

The court proceedings had a lot of difference with some of the court proceedings in TV. The US was represented by the US attorney who presented the evidence to the grand jury. The jury then evaluated the evidence and ruled that the defendant in this case, Columbus Steel Castings should stand for trial. However, most TV court proceedings do not show the US attorney presenting the evidence to the jury. They normally show the testimony and the cross-examination of the witnesses.

Another difference with what we see in TV is the sentence issued by the judge. Most sentences in the TV are jail sentences where a person is sentenced to some time in jail. However, in this case, Columbus Steel Castings were sentenced to pay approximately $800,000 to the two organizations that were responsible for the protection of the residents’ welfare in Columbus. In addition, the company was ordered to set up interlock devices that would shut down the chimneys when the pollution control equipment is not working. These types of sentences are different to the sentences we watch in TV.

There are some differences between the court proceedings in this country with those in other countries for instance; in the US there are lawyers in civil cases and attorneys working for the states or the federal government. In other countries for instance, the UK, there are solicitors and barristers who represent people in both the criminal and civil cases.

In the US courts are divided as either state courts or federal courts with the federal courts provided for by the US constitutions while the state courts are provided by the individual states. The federal courts hear major cases involving the constitution, the federal government and disputes between states (Champion, 2005). The state courts hear tort, family and criminal cases within the states. Cases by the state courts can be appealed at the federal courts. However, most countries do not have this kind of legal structure.

Another difference in court proceedings is evident in the selection of the jury who hear the cases (Champion, 2005). In the US, the jurors agree on serves or who is eliminated from hearing the cases. Therefore the jurors are not chosen by anyone in the US. This is different in other countries where the jurors get selected by government related agencies or the Queen’s Counsel as in the UK.

The outcome of the trial was fair and I fully agree with it. The evidence provided by the Attorney was beyond any reasonable doubt. The evidence had proved that the Columbus Steel Castings violated the Clean Air Act which prohibits any company from polluting the air. The company therefore polluted the air which resulted to the area residents contacting respiratory diseases as proved by the medical report from the Columbus Medical Hospital. Pollution of the air by the company clearly threatened the health of the residents. Therefore the outcome of the trial was fair to the residents because it provided for the medical and transport services for the residents who suffered from respiratory diseases.

The government attorney was articulate, eloquent and looked very experienced. He presented the evidence before the jury in an organized manner and very eloquently. His choice of and examination of the witnesses showed someone who was very experienced on handling such cases. He looked very organized in his presentation of the facts and left no matter unexplained. He managed to convince members of the jury beyond any doubt that the case should go for full trial.

The judge in her part, showed a lot of professionalism in her ruling. Her sentence was very good in that it aimed at not only correcting the mistake made, but also it focused at preventing future similar mistakes from being done. The trial ran very well without any mishaps at all. The judge was well on time during the beginning of the proceedings. There were little breaks in between the trial but generally all went on well.

The legal issue during the trial was whether Columbus Steel Castings violated the Clean Air Act. It was proved that the company had violated the act by failing to operate using air pollution controls and failing to conduct a check on the amount of dust and smoke produced by the company. The legal issue in the case was solved adequately because the company was ordered to install air pollution control devices. Therefore, there is nothing I may want to be settled by the court since every issued seemed to have been solved.

References

Champion .D (2005). The American Dictionary of Criminal Justice: Key Terms and Major Court Cases. Lanham, ML: Scarecrow Press.