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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76243 Find in a Library
Title: Role of the Complaining Witness in an Urban Criminal Court
Author(s): R C Davis; V Russell; F Kunreuther
Corporate Author: Vera Institute of Justice
United States of America

New York Victim Service Agency
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 120
Sponsoring Agency: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
Albany, NY 12203-3764
New York Victim Service Agency
New York, NY 10007
Vera Institute of Justice
New York, NY 10279
Grant Number: 2456
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The present study tries to identify the reasons why many victims/witnesses in New York's Brooklyn Criminal Court failed to cooperate despite efforts of the Victim/Witness Assistance Project (V/WAP).
Abstract: V/WAP was established to ensure regular notification of court dates and provide services to reduce the inconvenience of coming to court for both victims and witnesses. Previous efforts to determine the reasons for failure to cooperate focused on victim/witness questioning and personal characteristics analysis. These efforts had been unsuccessful. The study design for this effort consisted of two parts; one drew data from an interview sample, and the other drew data from an observation sample. The interview sample consisted of 295 complaining witnesses whose cases entered court in July and August of 1976. These complainants were interviewed twice, once in the complaint room and again at the conclusion of the court proceedings. In the entrance interviews, complainants were asked to state their objectives in pressing charges, their feelings about what ought to happen to defendants, and their expectations about the court process. The exit interviews queried complainants about their participation in the disposition process, satisfaction with case outcome, and perceptions of court officials. In the second part of the research, a sample of 60 cases entering court in 1978 was tracked by observers. Based upon this information, the study describes the motivations and expectations of the complainants, case flow, the role of complainants in the dispositional process, reactions to court experiences, and research implications. Findings reveal that there is a good deal of diversity in complainants' needs and desires. Dissatisfaction appears to be rooted in the lower court adjudication process itself and its lack of responsiveness to the concerns of victims and witnesses. Complainants also frequently failed to understand or approve of the nature of dispositions reached by court. Footnotes, tables, appendixes, and a bibliography are included in the study.
Index Term(s): Criminal proceedings; New York; Prosecution; Studies; Victim reactions to the Criminal Justice System; Victim Services Notification; Victim-witness programs; Witness protection; Witness Reactions to the Criminal Justice System
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