Professional Standards and Ethics

You may feel that the judicial system is a machine with grafted-on parts that keep things moving—but in a lurching, lumbering, stumbling way. Systemic problems may seem ready to either implode every major courthouse or slowly chip away at any hope. Overfull dockets, lack of citizen cooperation, and political pressure are just three issues that may seem to make the word justice in justice system feel out of place.

And yet the system is still filled with dedicated professionals who take seriously their vocations and civic duty: prosecutors seeking fairness and reform, defense attorneys ensuring that a fair trial isn’t only a slogan, and judges serious about the promise of rehabilitation. This week, you consider how professional standards and ethics remain as the foundation for ideals and trust in the judicial process.

Compare responsibility for ethical conduct in the judicial system
Analyze the role of citizen accountability in the judicial system
Evaluate the professional expectations, standards, and civic responsibilities of critical roles in the judicial system
Develop a presentation to engage civic responsibility in the judicial system
Analyze professional ideals related to serving the judicial system

Recall a recent election ballot: Did you know the names or positions of the judges on it? Did many of them run unopposed?

Citizens elect judges and district attorneys. Those individuals have political party affiliations and run-on specific platforms, and thus are answerable to the electorate. Meanwhile, defense attorneys for offenders with less means are often appointed, having no prior relationship or knowledge with a client. Imagine being the accused in a complicated case and feeling like your constitutionally guaranteed advocate may seem to be “punching a ticket” with your case. Now, imagine that you are a citizen called to jury duty. Or imagine that you were witness to a crime but refuse to testify. What is your motivation for engaging with the judicial system?

In this Discussion, you examine the role of ethical conduct from many perspectives, including the one perspective everyone shares, even if they work in the criminal justice system: the citizen.

Sample Solution

ACED ESSAYS