THE ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Some of the procedures of an American criminal prosecution can be traced back ten centuries in Anglo-American history. Prior to a discussion of the evolution of the criminal justice system, it is probably best to consider a case that demonstrates how that system is working today.
Ralph Johnson1 was arrested at his home in a suburb of Cleveland on April 13, 1970. He was charged with the intentional stabbing of the man with whom he shared the house. At the time of the arrest Johnson, who is black, was unemployed and was preparing to leave to attend school in the South. Johnson is a transplanted Southerner and has no family in the Cleveland area. He had no prior criminal record.
Johnson claims that on the evening of the stabbing he was upstairs in his room when he heard noise and scuffling in the rooms below. He went downstairs, found that his roommate had been stabbed but was still alive, and ran next door, where he asked the neighbor to call the police and an ambulance. "I rode with the police to the hospital," he later reported, "and there the police started asking me questions. Then a detective asked me to accompany him to the police station. When I got to the police station, the detective just pointed his finger and said, 'I charge you.' "2
When told that he was under arrest, Johnson asked the detective why.____________________