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Criminal Justice Standards Bench Book - For Special Court Judges

NCJ Number
Date Published
74 pages
The American Bar Association Criminal Justice Standards selectively presented apply to courts of limited jurisdiction and are intended for misdemeanor and major traffic offense cases; the topics are first appearance, guilty pleas, general trial guidelines, sentencing and probation, and warrants.
This manual contains both citations to appropriate standards and, following the citations, a capsule summary of the standards to give the judge a brief, quickly readable overview of their substance. To give the book practical utility, dialogs and checklists have been developed for those proceedings where applicable, incorporating and following the standards. The judge can use the dialogs or checklists for courtroom procedure. Each dialog is annotated to the standards to enable the judge to refer to the synopsis of the standards and, if necessary, to the standards themselves through the citations. The standards provide that the first appearance before the court should be no more than 6 hours after arrest. The primary functions of a first appearance are stated. In discussing standards for guilty pleas, it is noted that the plea is a conviction, and the duty of the court to protect the rights of the defendant under such circumstances is emphasized, with specific responsibilities being delineated. The standards for general trial guidelines focus on basic duties, pretrial duties, procedures during trial, and maintaining courtroom decorum. Factors for the court to consider in granting probation are indicated, and matters to be considered in the probation order are specified. In the section on warrants, it is noted that a warrant may be issued only upon a showing of probable cause and that the warrant itself must describe with reasonable precision the place, person, or property to be searched or seized.