I attended a court proceeding on 23rd November, 2015 in a Florida state court. The case was heard for 2 hours starting from 11 am to 1 pm. The defendant was a 24 year old man who was accused of stabbing and severely injuring his ex-girlfriend. This was an example of a misdemeanor bench trial. The case was heard by one judge, and presented by one prosecutor. The courtroom was filled by people who wanted to hear the verdict of the court on the case. The victim was not present in court since her condition could not allow her to. In addition, there was a forensic pathologist, a forensic criminologist and a forensic serologist on the prosecutors side. The defendant, only identified as Mark was represented by a counsel. The defendant was in shackles in the bar. There were 2 policemen by the defendants side who held a blood stained dagger claimed to have been used to commit the crime.
The judge gave the prosecutor the nod to proceed and present his evidence. The prosecutor, a grey haired man in his 50s stood up and bowed before the court. He read the charges against Mark and provided an overview of the crime and the criminal scenario to the court. He identified the witnesses he had and the evidence thereof. He called the forensic criminologist to give expert witness. The criminologist produced a chart with different fingerprints inscribed on it. The fingerprints were in two corresponding rows. He explained to the court that the first row was the exemplar of the fingerprints of the accused derived from the public database, and the second row represented fingerprints that were deduced from the weapon that was collected at the scene of crime. He added that there was 90% match between the two sets of fingerprints. The second witness to stand was the forensic pathologists. He described the wound pattern on the victims body and asserted that in matched the wounds inflicted by a dagger. The prosecutor then called on the forensic serologist, who said that the victims blood found on the dagger used matched the blood found on the defendants clothes. The prosecutor said that he did not have any more witnesses.
The procedure was consistent with the standard prosecution process in a bigger part, although the order in which the forensic experts were called to testify was not standard. I feel that the doctor should have been called first to describe the condition if the patient and the outlook from the injury inflicted.
The judge called on the defense to present his side of the story. He cross-examined the expert witnesses on various aspects of their forensic evidence. He challenged them to outline the chain of custody of the evidence collected and prove its authenticity. He then called on two young men to testify. They said that they were in a club drinking with the accused when the alleged crime was committed. The attorney later advised the defendant to refrain from giving his alibi since it could potentially incriminate him.
This process was carried out as per the normal procedure in the way the defense counsel cross-examined the prosecutors witness and how he called on the defense witnesses. However, the attorney did not hear out the defendants alibi, but just speculated that it was self-incriminating and prohibited it. The judge made his verdict after all the evidence was give as per the usual procedure.
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