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You are a member of a jury. The jury is hearing a child molestation case

Ethical Dilemmas
Situation 1

You are a judge who must sentence two defendants. One insisted on a jury trial and, through his defense attorney, dragged the case on for months with delays and motions. He was finally convicted by a jury. The other individual was his co-defendant, and he pleaded guilty. Apparently, they were equally responsible for the burglary.

How will you sentence them?

Situation 2

You are a member of a jury. The jury is hearing a child molestation case in which the defendant is accused of a series of molestations in his neighborhood. You have been advised by the judge not to discuss the case with anyone outside the courtroom, and especially not to anyone on either side of the case. Going down in the elevator after the fourth day of the trial, you overhear the prosecutor talking to one of the police officer witnesses. They are discussing that the man has a previous arrest for child molestation but that it has not been allowed in by the judge as being too
prejudicial to the jury. You were fairly sure that the guy was guilty before, but now you definitely believe he is guilty. You also know that if you tell the judge what you have heard, it will probably result in a mistrial.

What would you do?

Situation 3 

You are a court administrator and really like Judge Sonyer, your boss. He is pleasant, punctual, and hardworking. One day you hear him talking to the prosecutor in chambers. He is talking about the defendant in a trial that is about to start, and you hear him say that the son-of-a-bitch is “as guilty as sin.” You happen to be in law school and know that, first, the prosecutor and judge should not be talking about the case without the presence of the defense attorney and, second, that the judge has expressed a pre-existing bias. The judge’s statement is even more problematic because this is a bench trial and he is the sole determiner of guilt or innocence.

What would you do?

Situation 4

You are a federal judge and are about to start a federal racketeering trial that is quite complicated. Prosecutors allege that certain lobbyists funneled money into political campaigns by “washing” it through individual employees of a
couple of large corporations. Still, the evidence seems equivocal—at least what you’ve seen so far. You get a call from one of your state’s U.S. senators (who is not implicated in the case, although members of his party are), and the conversation is innocuous and pleasant enough until the senator brings up the case and jocularly pressures you to agree with him that it is a “tempest in a teapot.” Then he mentions that a higher, appellate-level judgeship will be opening soon and that he is sure you would like his support on it. The message is not subtle. What would you do?

Situation 5

You are a federal judge faced with a drug defendant. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines dictate that you sentence this individual to five years in prison. You believe that the sentence is arbitrary and not responsive to the defendant’s individual circumstances. You think the individual deserves probation, community service, and drug counseling.
What would you do?

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Professor Ortiz

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