Are you writing a courtroom scene story and need to add some realistic clues? Or maybe you are developing a trial attorney or other legal actor in the courtroom? This article is a short introductory “Trials 101” (US legal system) to help you understand some of the real life players in the courtroom. We will also briefly discuss the history of trials (think of the combatants in battle) and some reasons why trials occur (as well as some of the wrong reasons why trials occur, which can provide great conflict in history. ).
First, let’s take a look at some of the key players in the courtroom.
“Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.”
-Charles Lamb 1775-1834
In my experience as a legal researcher working for numerous attorneys, and from the perspective of several friendly attorneys who reviewed this article, attorneys come in three packages:
If, as Shakespeare intended, we killed all the lawyers, the third category is the one that is left over.
The other players: judges, plaintiffs, defendants
In state courts (where most justice is served) the judge is an attorney (usually a politically astute attorney) who is elected or appointed by the governor. They are seldom impartial (no rule of law has ever said they should be impartial) and their assigned role is to apply the rules of law and procedure. They preside over jury trials and are increasingly interested in making the trial experience as fair for jurors as it is for litigants.
Judges make legal decisions based on legal principles. The law used by judges is found in statutes, or rule books or procedures, or it is found in a body of law called common law. Common law is the set of legal traditions and principles that have been passed from judge to judge over the last thousand years (think common law marriage: Judges created a rule many years ago that two people presenting themselves as married to the public and presenting official documents as a married couple, they are in fact married). Common law was part of the legal world for hundreds of years before someone decided to pass a law on it. Judges apply the law and juries determine whether the facts they believe have been proven to them and actually support the claims made in a civil or criminal lawsuit.
TO litigant is a person who is suing or being sued. TO applicant is someone who is suing, as is a petition (mainly in divorce cases). TO accused you are a defendant in a criminal case or the defendant in a civil action (also called answer in a divorce or any other family law case). advice They are the attorneys for the various parties.
Next, let’s take a look at the history of testing.
“A trial is still a trial of battle. For the broadsword there is the weight of evidence; for the battle ax, the force of logic; for the sharp spear, the blazing flash of truth; for the rapier, the quick knife and blazing wit. ”
-Lloyd Paul Stryker, American attorney, cited in reports of his death on June 22, 1955
Our modern justice system has its roots in medieval Germanic and Anglo-Saxon conflict resolution, which ancient people called trial by ordeal (literally an ordeal as it typically involved torture with fire or water), which evolved into trial by battle (where the aggrieved and the accused fought). The premise behind trials for ordeal or battle was based on the belief that God would not allow the guilty or the unjust to prosper.
Subsequently, trial by battle was used in civil cases. Like the current trial system, the disputing parties did not enter the “battlefield” but each chose “champions” to fight in their stead (see the similarity to modern trial lawyers?). Each champion would take an oath and swear that the cause they were pursuing was the right one, with the medieval belief that God would strengthen the arm of whoever had sworn to defend the most just position.
Trial by battle persisted in the English legal system until its abolition in the 19th century. The basic principles and some of the details (for example, that the trial was presided over by the coroner in English law, and that all trial systems provided for a presiding judge of some kind) persist in modern systems in the United States. and England. Imagine this system in today’s world, perhaps a television series in which WWF champion wrestlers become trial lawyers! Like combatants in battle trials, law enforcement figures remain arrogant, independent, and ready for battle.
Apply this knowledge of real life courtroom players, as well as their historical origins, to develop the high-stakes gladiator drama of court battles in your stories!