Judges and Court Staff

Courts are where arguments and decisions regarding individual criminal cases are made.
Judges and the people who staff courts have a central role in upholding equal justice in ensuring fair trials for everyone that comes before their courtrooms. In particular, judges are often in the best position to make sure that accused individuals understand their Sixth Amendment rights and to protect those rights during court proceedings, especially at the pretrial phase. Judges are positioned to work in collaboration with other stakeholders in these proceedings such as Prosecutors and Public Defenders. In addition, judges and court staff are essential to ensuring fair jury selection, appointment of counsel, and access to favorable witnesses and evidence. Being open to collaboration with other stakeholders in the Public Defender community is a key part of making sure that Judges and their court staff uphold their role in ensuring equal justice for all.

What do I need to do to accomplish my role?

  • An understanding of and commitment to best practices for judges and court staff in upholding equal justice
  • Reflection on your own actions that help or hinder the assurance of fair trials
  • A willingness to learn from successful projects and model programs in other jurisdictions

How might I be hindering justice?

  • Accepting an accused individual’s waiver of any Sixth Amendment rights when the individual does not understand those rights and the consequences of waiver.
  • Not explaining to accused individuals what kinds of collateral consequences follow a guilty plea
  • Not instructing juries on what to consider and not consider for an accurate verdict

Get Involved

No matter what your role is, you can be a part of the movement to Strengthen the Sixth and ensure fair trials and accurate verdicts for every community.

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