Revolutionization of Criminal Procedure in U.S. Supreme Court Under Earl Warren
Who sits at the nerve center of society makes all the difference and A great man is the one who represents a great ganglion in the nerves of that society, or, to vary the figure, a strategic point in the campaign of history and part of his greatness consists in his being there. With this in mind, there’s absolutely no doubt that history will record Chief Justice Earl Warren as one of America’s great chief justices, as he has been a role model for his mission. He brought extraordinary personal qualities to the fulfillment of his office, foremost perhaps was courage – not only the will to decide and decide according to his convictions and values but the courage that preserves equanimity, tolerance, and good nature in the face of provocation such as the movement for his impeachment.
In the brick of his rule, Lawyers questioned his lack of judicial experience, but thanks to his understanding and aquaintance with law enforcement his political career gave reason to hope that he would indeed understand and express in public law, the long range needs and aspirations of the American people. Indeed, The openness of American society to change and reform, and the decency of the administration of criminal justice received both creative and enduring impetus from the work of the Warren Court[footnoteRef:2] as it made meaningful the three Amendments adopted after the Civil War, and thus referred a settlement of the race issue to the nation’s conscience and especially asserted equality and strenghened individual rights.
Bill Stuntz has argued that improving criminal justice – key components of which are fair treatment of suspects and effective checks on abuse of police power – is difficult to achieve by a judicial focus on criminal procedure. Yet procedure, of course, was the focus of Warren Court jurisprudence on criminal justice. But why can we say that the US Supreme court under Earl warren revolutionize Criminal procedure? I want to draw on the illustrations of the impact of warren court criminal procedure decisions on the transformation of the criminal justice system in the three decades siince Warren’s resignation.
My thesis, in short, is that Warren Court criminal procedure decisions had led to what Justice Abe Fortas once termed ‘the most profound and pervasive revolution ever achieved by substantially peaceful means.’ and that is through the embodiement of the idea theme of strengthening individual rights and entitlements for the criminally accused. But like any other revolution, it is far from being perfect which leads us to question the effectiveness of Litigation only as a mean for social and judicial reform.
Warren had a more extensive background in law enforcement than anyone who has ever sat on the United States Supreme Court. In addition, his politics were not easy to stereotype unless in terms of Hiram Johnson (a leading American progressive and then a Liberal Isolationist Republican who served as the 23rd Governor of California and as a United States Senator) and the Bull Moose tradition (formally Progressive Party), but he was progressive and a little left of center The Federal system foundered upon Chief Justice Warren’s persistent questions, ‘Is that fair?’ or ‘Is that what America stands for?’ Such questions were profoundly disturbing to those engrossed by the intellectual and institutional side of the law, its history, and sheer professional expertise
But it is those questions that fueled Warren’s desire to achieve justice and equality for All individuals, asserting the thirteenth, Forteenth, And Fifteenth ammendments of the constitution without leaving the chance for any loopwhole in the law permitting unfairness or unequity between american citizens nomatter what their differences are. The landmark case here was Gideon v. Wainwright, which required counsel for indigent defendants. Warren’s emphasis on fairness in criminal proceedings also led to Mapp v. Ohio, barring illegally seized evidence and Miranda v. Arizona, requiring warnings to arrested persons of their right to counsel, including appointed counsel if they could not afford one.
Equitable treatment was an underlying concern of a range of criminal procedure decisions that aimed to reduce the disadvantages of poverty in litigation. The more conduct that the government criminalizes, the more frequently citizens commit crimes, and the more readily police have probable cause to stop and search citizens. then we have reason to doubt that the Warren Court’s efforts to improve criminal justice through criminal procedure protections yielded a system as substantially improved as the Court and its supporters initially hoped.
Taking this view, criminal procedure rules may not fully achieve specific goals because legislatures can give the police more options for legal stops and searches. From the other hand, and as far as providing the right to counsel for everyone, underfunding the courts and public defense create systemic pressures that make appointed counsel a formal but ineffective reality. After all, felons had widespread access to at least minimal assistance of counsel; the question is how meaningful this minimal help was. In addition, While providing counsel to defendants can increase the accuracy of verdicts and reduce wrongful convictions, defense counsel can sometimes obstruct successful prosecution of the guilt, in the sens that it would reduce confessions which is a key to conviction in many cases.
Through the 1960s, society understood criminal punishment in utilitarian terms and criminal punishment aimed to serve the function not only of deterrence, but also of rehabilitation. As a matter of fact, Parole boards, with the help of prison officials, were to determine when an offender was rehabilitated or was otherwise ready for release. The goal was an individually tailored assessment of offenders that led to individualized, specifically appropriate sentences and thus more fair ones. But in the late 1960’s, this system faced increasing criticism. And eventually, By the mid-1970s, liberal scholars in criminal law and criminology were advocating – for the first time in generations a theory of punishment grounded in retributivism rather than utilitarianism.’
There’s this the critical assumption that One model inevitably compromises the primary objective of the other. In other words, To protect due process values, legislators might trade off crime-fighting effectiveness and vice versa, that is to say in order to effectively control crime, legislators might have to sacrifice the autonomy and liberty values. ( This case reminds me of a struggle that has been going on between the criminal justice in some Arab spring countries and Human rights activists who were reluctant of harsh punishments and advocating fair treatment and a chance of rehabilitation even for the mass murderers, the result was the first chance the terrorists were freed after years, they did the best thing they were good at, planning terrorist attacks, which can stand as a proof that answering only to liberty and equality values sometimes prove perverse results and can come against the purpose of the criminal justice system)
In the framework of the counter Rehabilitation movement, even Wilson in his popular 1975 book ‘Thinking About Crime’ argued for a harsh regime of determinate sentencing that abandoned goals of individualized treatment and rehabilitation in favor of the presumed deterrent effect of tough, certain punishments. The Warren Court’s criminal procedure legacy offers support for the theme we draw from scholars such as Stuntz and Klarman: Courts are relatively poor mechanisms through which to effect substantial reform, especially without support in social and political movements.”Without such support, bold judicial decisions are as likely as not to be ineffective or even counter-productive.
For instance, Brown’s goal of integration was achieved, to the very partial extent that it was, largely through political activism resulting in civil rights legislation and its subsequent implementation. Brown’s goal of desegregation coincided with social forces pushing for that same goal. Klarman argues that the latter deserves more credit than the former for much of the integration achieved. On the other hand, Courts are not likely to be good at assessing those effects. Because these effects depend on the reactions of other political actors and developments, they are hardly predictable.
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