The Bill of Rights is a part of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, approved on December 15, 1791, is a document which establishes the rights of an individual and sets boundaries for the government’s control. With inspiration from the English Bill of Rights and Magna Carta, and the colonial mindset, equality for all, James Madison sponsored a series of twelve amendments which would protect individuals’ rights.
(Britannica School) Madison proposed seventeen amendments to the House of Representatives, of which the House approved all, but was then cut down to twelve by the Senate. For a final decision, in August 1789, all states except Virginia approved 10 of the 12 amendments. Finally, on December 15, 1791, Virginia approved the same ten amendments and the Bill of Rights was an official document. (“Bill of Rights”) Many of the rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights deal with the criminal court procedure (ie. the fifth and seventh amendment) (Britannica School). With the idea of defending one’s accusation for a crime, the Founding Fathers believed the criminal court procedure needed to be installed and refined. Henceforth, the creation of the Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The seven rights mentioned in the Sixth Amendment are: the right to a speedy trial, the right to a public trial, the right to be judged by an impartial jury, the right to be notified of the circumstances of the alleged crime, the right to confront witnesses who will testify against you, the right to find witnesses who will speak in favor of you and the right to have a lawyer who will defend you.
At the time, if the Court failed to begin a trial in a timely manner it was required to dismiss the prosecution entirely (Bibas and Fisher). The “Speedy Trial Clause” helped prevent incarceration for long periods of time before a defendant’s guilt has been determined. This clause was also used to reduce the possibility that a long delay would hold out until something could impair the accused’s chances for a fair trial. Nowadays, the court takes the term “speedy” more leniently, to the point where a couple years can pass and the prosecution may still remain active (Bibas and Fisher). The “public” aspect of a trial was more limited because the trials could be closed to the public for legitimate reasons like national security, public safety, or the victim’s privacy interests (Bibas and Fisher). “Public Trial Clause” helped witnesses come forward because it pressured people into telling the truth and could also increase the public’s knowledge of the judicial and legal system.
At the time the jury is made up of twelve regular people of the state. Each individual had lots of power. They were able to sentence people to death for crimes, even if they were not committed by the defendant. The jurors often knew the defendant and witnesses (Bibas and Fisher) . This made it hard for the jury to be impartial which is a required by the Sixth Amendment. Inorder to make it a fair trial, the jury has to understand what charges subjected the defendant to the death penalty. Apart of their job is to debate whether a defendant is guilty or deserves mercy (Bibas and Fisher). The “Right to Trial by Jury” is protection from corrupt judges, who might sentence the accused unfairly.
The right to be notified of the circumstances of the alleged crime you are charged for requires information including: dates, times, what allegedly happened and a reference to the law that was allegedly violated. This clause provides security to the people and assures that crimes have actually been committed before a conviction is made. The fifth right mentioned in the Sixth Amendment is the “Confrontation Clause”, which is the right to confront witnesses who will testify against you. Because witness statements are “testimonial”, the statements are made to establish facts for the alleged criminal prosecution (Bibas and Fisher).
This guarantees the defendant’s right to be informed of details on his alleged criminal actions. The sixth right mentions that you are allowed tocall witnesses on your behalf. If the witness does not wish to attend the trial, the court will subpoena the witness, forcing them to participate.
This requirement is necessary to protect the accused against unfair or unjust accusations during trial. To guarantee a fair trial, you can have a lawyer to defend you. If the defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the court must provide one at the public’s expense. This guarantees the accused’s protection during trial. Works Cited Bibas, Stephanos, and Jeffrey L.
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