Student Case Studies
Chapter 1: England
Joe Pattinson is a 25-year-old English student at Oxford University in Great Britain. One Saturday night, after an evening out with friends, he went home with his girlfriend. Joe and his girlfriend proceeded to get into a fight about his inability to pick up after himself around the house. Joe proceeded to push his girlfriend down and violently beat her. He left the apartment while she was still on the floor unconscious.
Joe returned the next morning to find his girlfriend dead from her injuries. He attempted to hide the body in the apartment. However, the police showed up later that day because her friends knew the couple had been fighting, and they had not been able to reach her. The police found the body and arrested Joe.
The evidence against Joe was quite overwhelming. His girlfriend had clearly died from blood loss and brain swelling due to the beating he had given her. Friends were also able to give statements as to the fact that they had been arguing that evening. Joe is now in custody and preparing for trial in England.
What court in England would hear this case and why?
Answer: Crown Courts handle all major criminal cases in England.
Who would prepare this case for trial, and who would present this case during trial in this court?
Answer: A solicitor would prepare the case for trial, and a barrister would present the case during trial.
What kind of judge would be assigned in this case, and would the trial consist of a jury?
Answer: There are three kinds of judges in Crown Courts. Judges from the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court are assigned to handle the most serious cases such as this one. Trials in Crown Courts are also heard by a judge and jury.
Chapter 2: France
Scott is a 12-year-old French boy with a very difficult family situation. Scott is from a very impoverished neighborhood in France and has no parental supervision. His father is absent from his life, and his mother is quite abusive when she is around. More often than not, however, she is away working one of her two jobs to try to provide for the family. Scott has been involved in illegal activities since he was nine years old and does not show any sign of stopping. At age 12, Scott committed burglary and vandalism at a grocery store in France. At age 16, Scott began to commit more serious offenses around his neighborhood. Eventually he was arrested for a particularly violent assault that almost led to the death of the victim.
In France, what options might have been provided to Scott by the government for his crimes when he was 12? Would he be held accountable for his crimes by a juvenile court?
Answer: Scott may have been able to access one of the banlieues that provides social services to juveniles in at-risk areas. At age 12, however, Scott could not have been held legally responsible by a French court. Offenders under age 13 are protected from any type of criminal proceeding.
What would be the process for handling Scott, at age 16, when he was arrested for assault? Would he be held responsible by a court? What court?
Answer: The court of assize for juveniles hears cases involving juveniles ages 16 to 17 with very serious crimes, such as Scott’s.
In the court identified as processing Scott’s case above, who would hear the case in that court if incarceration was recommended as a sanction for Scott’s assault? What type of punishment might he receive?
Answer: This court of assize is composed of a judge from the district court of appeals, two juvenile judges, and nine jurors. If incarcerated, he would be placed in a facility called a foyer.
Chapter 3: Japan
Yasuo is a 25-year-old male Japanese citizen who was arrested for robbery. A woman was walking down the street using her smart phone. Yasuo robbed her at gunpoint.
If Yasuo lived in an urban area, what type of “police box” officer may be responsible for assisting in the response to this incident? If Yasuo lived in a rural area, what type of officer may assist?
Answer: The prefectural police would address the situation. If Yasuo lived in an urban area, an officer from a koban may assist. If Yasuo lived in a rural area, an officer from a chuzaisho may assist.
During questioning, what rights to an attorney would Yasuo have?
Answer: Yasuo can be detained for questioning for up to 23 days, and he may be rearrested on other charges in order to continue detention. Yasuo has no right to legal counsel during questioning. Once indicted, Yasuo may have access to counsel, but it is often restricted by the police, and written communications can be censored. There is no court-appointed counsel until after indictment.
In what court would Yasuo’s case likely be heard? In a civil case, if the offense was of a value less than 900,000 yen, what court would hear Yasuo’s case?
Answer: District Courts are the principal courts of first instance, and they hear both civil and criminal cases. Summary Courts handle minor cases that do not warrant a formal trial, and they hear civil issues in which the value is less than 900,000 yen.
Chapter 4: South Africa
Mandiba was arrested on suspicion of homicide late one evening. Police officers spent hours questioning Mandiba despite his exhaustion and the late hour. He was not provided with food, restroom breaks, or the opportunity to sleep for more than 72 hours. On the last day of questioning, the officers told him that if he signed the written confession they had typed up, he would be allowed to sleep, have a hot meal, and use the restroom and shower. Mandiba said he would do so and signed the confession. During Mandiba’s trial, the signed confession was a significant piece of evidence that was used against him. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to death.
What are the two constitutional issues in this case?
Answer: Is the death penalty constitutional in South Africa? Are confessions under duress accepted in South Africa?
What are the two past court decisions that established the constitutionality of these two issues and the rulings?
Answer: S v. Makwanyana (1995) centered on whether the death penalty was constitutional. The court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional because it violated the ninth (equality), tenth (human dignity), and eleventh (right to life) rights found in the Bill of Rights. In S v. Zuma (1995), the issue was whether a defendant had to prove his claim that a written confession was forced under duress. The court ruled that this was unconstitutional on the grounds of the presumption that a confession was made freely and voluntarily.
What police agency would have been conducting this investigation in South Africa? Why?
Answer: The South African Police Service is the only policing agency that has the authority to conduct criminal investigations in South Africa. Municipal police forces do not have the right to do so.
Chapter 5: Russia
Alexi and Demitri are neighbors, both living on large acreages of land in the Russian countryside. One day, while Demitri was digging holes for fence posts on the western edge of his property, he found a large buried chest that he removed from the ground to find money and jewels. He went to tell his neighbor Alexi and proceeded to show Alexi where he found the treasure. Alexi claimed that Demitri was actually digging over the property line, and the chest he found was actually on Alexi’s land, and thus the chest belonged to Alexi. The two men argued back and forth over the ownership of the property and the property line, and thus the resulting ownership of the buried treasure. Alexi eventually became so angry that he killed Demitri.
In what court in Russia would the property dispute case have been heard (prior to the homicide)?
Answer: Justice of the Peace Court.
In what court in Russia would the homicide case be heard?
Answer: District Court.
Chapter 6: China
Jong is a 20-year-old male who has been arrested for violently assaulting another Chinese man during a large holiday parade in China. Jong is a middle-class man who had recently been fired from his job. The day he was fired was the same day he proceeded to get drunk and go the holiday parade. It was at the holiday parade that another man bumped into him and Jong proceeding to beat him quite badly.
In what type of facility would Jong be housed while awaiting his sentence in China?
Answer: Criminal Detention Center.
If Jong was 12 and had been accused of the same crime, how would he have been handled?
Answer: The court may reduce penalties if the person is 14 to 18; if the individual is under 14, only a reprimand can be issued.
What is the process of rehabilitation that Jong will go through and that the Chinese think a citizen should go through?
Answer: A three-step process in order to become rehabilitated: (1) acknowledging one’s guilt for the offense committed; (2) criticizing one’s behavior as being anti-socialistic (repentance); and (3) submitting to authority by obeying the rules and regulations of the correctional facility.
Chapter 7: Islamic Law
Abboud is a Sunni Muslim who has committed theft in a local electronics shop. Abboud was apprehended shortly after his theft and was found with the stolen electronics in his possession. Abboud admitted to committing theft and attempting to sell the electronics he had stolen so he could buy some more expensive electronics for himself.
In what religious text or category would you find reference to this particular crime in Islamic Law?
Answer: This is a hudud crime that would be found in either the Sunna or the Quran.
What is the composition of this category of religious and legal reference?
Answer: The Quran includes Islamic scripture; the Sunna are the verbal, practical, and approved practices of Islamic law.
What might be Abboud’s punishment, and what would be the philosophy behind that punishment under Islamic Law?
Answer: Sanctions tend to be quite harsh and are designed to protect the public interest. This may include the cutting off of hands, death, banishment, imprisonment, or striking. Punishment is based on severity and type of crime and should be public. It is designed to inflict severe pain to prevent the perpetrator from ever forgetting the sanction and to cause the offender to cease his or her criminal life-style.