The Adversarial System
In the American Justice System, there are two opposing parties in the criminal prosecution process; defense attorneys and prosecutors. Each party provides a significant role in the judicial process by representing the interests of the state and the accused. Without these parties, the system would rely on the testimony of individuals and would lack the professional arguments that are presented by prosecutors and attorneys.
In the adversarial system of justice both parties present arguments, gather and submit evidence, call and question witnesses (Hale, 2004). The judge presides over this interaction and is impartial except to enforce rules and laws that are designed to keep the system fair. The first party is the defense counsel who represents the rights and interests of the accused. According to American Bar Association (2013);
The basic duty defense counsel owes to the administration of justice and as an officer of the court is to serve as the accused’s counselor and advocate with courage and devotion and to render effective, quality representation.
This means arguing the accused person’s case or representing their plea. The defense counsel provides an important function to the court by providing a professional legal agent to represent the accused who would otherwise lack the necessary knowledge of the law to present their case properly.
The second part is the prosecutor. The function of this party is to represent the interests of the state but more so to seek justice where violations of law are concerned. The prosecutor in this sense represents the interests of the people because he enforces the law by seeking remedies. The job of the prosecutor is often complicated by evidence, procedures, and even politics. Prosecutors deal with these complications via the power of prosecutorial discretion. This power is vested in the ability of prosecutors to judge and determine which cases should be pursued or pleas offered. This discretion gives prosecutors a great deal of power and also aids in the expediting of cases that flow through the criminal justice system. Because the prosecutor has this power, many cases which are nonviolent or minor infractions can be given plea bargains which move them through the process quickly and make room for more serious cases.
American Bar Association. (2013). Standard 4- 1.2 the function of defense counsel. Retrieved from http://www.americanbar.org/publications/criminal_justice_section_archive/crimjust_stan dards_dfunc_blk.html
Hale, S.B. (2004). The Discourse of Court Interpreting: Discourse Practices of the Law, the Witness and the Interpreter. John Benjamins. New York p31.