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COURT HOUSE VISIT, DELAND, FLORIDA

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COURT HOUSE VISIT, DELAND, FLORIDA
My Deland, Florida courthouse visit was greeted by a sober and expectant atmosphere.
The significance of these institutions over the history of the United States cannot be
underestimated. While the police and correctional facilities remain relevant to the U.S. justice
system, the cornerstone of this system is the courts. Alongside legal action, the adjudication of
legal principles, benefits and rights are some of the courtroom daily activities that affect
thousands of Americans. From its Great British orientations, the courts have evolved to their
current eminence as one of the world’s best justice systems.
In my visit to the Deland, Florida court house, in noticed that the participants who are
observable in any United States court house include judges, juries, clerks, defendant, plaintiffs
and the public. The other conspicuous aspects of the courthouse that I observed include the
courtroom attire and etiquette, entrances, positioning of participants and the allowed numbers.
While these observations were limited to the Deland, Florida courthouse, they are common to all
courthouses in the country.
The positioning of the jury, in the jury box, and the clerk, with respect to the judge, was
one of the striking observations I made in the court house. While the jury sat to the right, the
court clerk sat to the left of the judge. The sitting position of the jury is usually determined by the
place where the prosecution is positioned. While the jury assumes an opposite position to that of

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the prosecution, the clerk sits adjacent to the prosecution. The reason why the clerk sits in this
position is to clearly hear and record what the prosecution has to say during the hearing. The
jury, on the other hand, sits opposite the prosecution in order to see the face of the prosecution to
help make up their judgement. This sitting arrangement with respect to prosecutions’ positioning
explains why the jury is seated to the right while the clerk is seated to the left of the judge.
During the courthouse visit, I noticed that there were 12 jurors. According to Rule 48, the
number of members a jury should have is a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 members.
However, the situation is bound to change in certain circumstances where the jury has less than
the recommended minimum threshold (Sixth Amendment, 1978). In the event that those present
for jury duty are less than 6, the court is not obliged to rely on their agreement. Such a situation
presents a constitutional problem since the defendant is denied his right to be tried by a jury as
stipulated in the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.
According to Menard (2001), the responsibility of the jury is to “evaluate the
evidence presented and determine the truth to the best of their ability.” The jurors require no
special skills or education to assume their responsibilities. They have the right to know what the
case entails and the trial procedure. They are also bound by the law to remain within the confides
of the case and only discuss it when deliberations begins. In the event that a juror hears
something relevant relating to the case, they are allowed approaching the court and expressing
their concern or information. Other than the court clerk, judge or court officers, the juror is not
allowed to discuss such details with any other party.
I also noticed that the jurors composed of people who did not have a common racial,
educational or religious denominator. Unlike the judge who wore a prescribed robe, the jurors
did not wear unique attire. The 12 jury members are selected from a list of public applicants.

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According to the Federal Judicial Centre (1995), the two-step jury selection process begins with
random selection before proceeding to voir dire. Eventually, 12 regular jury members and four
alternatives are selected. Random selection involves looking for voters and driving licence
holders within a state and selecting viable jury members. Voir dire refers to the process where
the pool of individuals is subjected to analysis to determine their death penalty and racial
attitudes, and six week availability (Federal Judicial Centre, 1995).
I also noticed the clerk as one of the most active court officials. The clerk of the court is
an individual who has been elected by the county to a position that empowers them to manage
the court’s information while acting as one of its officers (Borgmann, 2013). While their job
revolves around collecting all relevant information for the court they are accountable to, their
day-to-day task involves maintaining records for all trials. This explains why they are ever
present during court hearings. The other individual duties that the clerk of the court is tasked
with include generating jury duty notices, collect and pay out child support remittances, prepare
marriage licences, issue court documents and receipt fines and fees.
The other observable feature of the courthouse was the two tables for defendant and the
plaintiff. It is important that the two groups are kept in separate tables in order to create a clear
distinction between the accused and the complainant. Such separation will also help the jury
know at all times who they have been presented with as the wrongdoer.
The other observation that I made related to the courtroom decorum and how the judge
was approached by the lawyers. Part of the courtroom etiquette involved using the judge as the
intermediary. This implied that the defendant and plaintiff could not talk directly to each other.
Instead, they spoke to each other through the courthouse judge. Interjections were also sustained

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