The Bill of Rights – Exploring Amendments (Part Four)

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These next to amendments we will be learning about touch on our nation’s legal system, which makes them particularly important for us here at Hastings & Hastings. These are the meaty, lesser known amendments. They are also some of our favorites!

The Sixth Amendment

 In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

The Sixth Amendment establishes what are commonly referred to as “trial rights.” This amendment touches on almost every aspect of the trail process. First, the accused have a right to a public trial in front of an impartial jury. This means that trials cannot be held in secret! Trials also have to start quickly and running in a speedy fashion. The accused must be tried in the same district in which they have been accused of a crime. They also have the right to know what they have been accused of. Finally, they have the right to an attorney, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to present witness in their defense.

The Seventh Amendment

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

Okay, some amendments may be less relevant than others in modern day. The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a trial by jury for damages higher than $20. Of course, $20 is worth much less in 2016 than it was in the 1700s. Today, disputes must exceed $75,000 before they can be brought to a federal court.

                             

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