Posted: March 26th, 2021

The History and Role of Judges and Prosecutors in the United States

The History and Role of Judges and Prosecutors in the United States

The History and Role of Judges and Prosecutors in the United States
The criminal justice system comprises three major components that injure the judiciary, the executive, and the legislature, which play an imperative role in administering justice. According to Worrall (2017), the judicial system is constituted by the court systems, the judges, and prosecutors, whose input ensures restoration of law and order. These officials, especially the judges and prosecutors, are held to high standards. They are expected to be impartial and fair. Therefore, they are prohibited from charging cases that many have conflicting interests (Worrall, 2017).
Furthermore, the law must be followed according to the provision of the U.S constitution. The issues of judges and prosecutors’ date back to the precolonial era but have since evolved to the current judicial system. This paper seeks to discuss the history and role of judges and prosecutors in the United States.
Since ancient times, the judges have been in existence; however, they gained more recognition following the Judiciary Act of 1789. However, the first judges can be traced back to the ancient 12th century (Worrall, 2017). Their role was to act as advisories to the kings in dispute settlement. This was followed by establishing the supreme court and the federal courts and a major structure of the legal system that remained intact. However, it has undergone legal evolution (Worrall, 2017). However, the judicial system is still evolving to meet the needs of society.
There are different types of judges who play various roles. First, the federal judges serve the judiciary at the national level. They are appointed by the president and delegated with so many powers to serve on the federal bench and the federal courts. Being an elite position, most federal judges must be highly qualified since the appointment is usually for life unless otherwise. District judges serve the judicial system at a lower district court. After several years of service and acquired experience, most of them are appointed federal judges (Worrall, 2017). Thirdly, the appeal court judges share similar roles as the district courts’ judges, only that they work in appellant courts. Lastly, Supreme court justices are the highest-ranking judges in the United States. They work as Supreme Court justices. In most cases, they are tasked with handling landmark cases that shape the judicial system in the years that follow (Worrall, 2017). Over the years, the roles of judges have been shaped out to be very distinctive.
First, judges conduct court proceedings where they are expected to interpret the laws. Secondly, they decide if the evidence submitted to the court is sufficient enough to support a reasonable belief of the occurrence of wrongdoing (Castellano, 2017). Furthermore, they decide whether the evidence that comes to the court is admissible or does not meet the threshold required by law to convict an offender for the crime. Thirdly, a judge appoints a lawyer, especially for the defendant that cannot afford to hire one, thus protecting the right to representation guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment. Fourthly, judges are tasked with setting bail for the defendant (Castellano, 2017). When the defendant enters a not guilty or guilty plea, the judge ensures that the plea is made voluntarily and not coerced.
During the hearing, the judge is the trier, whereby he ensures that the laws are followed according to the constitution. For instances where there is no jury, the judge plays both the trier of law and the trier of fact (Castellano, 2017). Notably, they also play an imperative role in juvenile cases. For example, juvenile proceedings are normally not adversarial. Therefore, they do not get a jury trial. The judge listened to the arguments and decided the proper approach for the juvenile. Furthermore, the judges are responsible for sighting searches and arrest warrants. The judges also bestowed the power to punish any wrongdoings in the courtroom (Castellano, 2017).
The Prosecutor
The prosecutor is a legal representative who repents the government in cases in criminal trials against an individual. In the United States, public prosecutors are elected by the citizens to ensure that the process is fair and independent away from political partisans and patronage (Bellin, 2020). The introduction of the prosecutors’ election dates back to between 1832 and 1861. The citizens played a role in choosing the prosecutors in a different jurisdiction. They play an imperative role in the criminal justice system, ensuring efficient processing of criminal cases.
The prosecutor represents the state in matters regarding the adjudication of criminal offenses. He is bestowed with the power to make legal decisions while adhering to the rule of equal rights and access to justice for all (Bellin, 2020). In some cases, the prosecutors may be involved in the investigative stage by providing law enforcement officials with advisory assistance to ensure that evidence necessary to make the conviction is appropriately collected and analyzed. In other cases, he assumes responsibility to sign for electronic surveillance or search warrant.
The prosecutor gets to decide whether to instigate legal proceedings against an offender. In minor crimes, and in the cases where the suspect admits guilty, the prosecutor can impose a fine. Public prosecutors enjoy prosecution discretion. This way, they can speed up the criminal justice processes, reducing cases’ backlogs (Bellin, 2020). Even for the case where there is probable cause, the prosecutor determines whether there is a need to impose a conviction dismissal, especially in situations where one seeks voluntary dismissal.

Bellin, J. (2020). The Changing Role of the American Prosecutor. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Forthcoming.
Castellano, U. (2017). The politics of Beechcraft: The role of judges in mental health courts. Law & Social Inquiry, 42(2), 398-422.
Worrall, L.J.S.F.S.J. L. (2017). Courts and Criminal Justice in America (Subscription). [VitalSource Bookshelf]. Retrieved from


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