The United States constitution presents an accused person with an opportunity to file a petition of his/her judgment. According to Lowry (1994), “the right to due process is the one that mandates the right to an appeal of a criminal conviction”. If the conviction comes as a result of pleading guilty, a leave of appeal or authorization to appeal may be sought by the accused. Lowry (1994) further states that, “an absolute right to appeal arises when a conviction consequences from a trial”. The nature of appeal is usually different from trial. It is basically an assessment of the records of trial to determine whether the proceedings were conducted fairly according to the constitution. On appealing, the accused person is supposed to offer proof that there was a failure in observance of the due process in the conviction. Such an error may arise from the failure of the judge, the person heading the legal proceedings or the person representing the accused person.
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Only a conviction that is an infringement of the law is included in the right to ‘due process’ in the U.S. courts. It contains legal guiding principles that need to be observed for the purpose of ensuring that a fair trial is given to an accused person. An appeal may be applied in case of a legal error that arises from the failure to adhere to these legal guiding principles. It can lead to a repeal of judgment or conviction. The idea of ‘due process’ is based on the constitutional rights of the accused person. However, Vile (1997) further states that, “the U.S. constitution has no universal mandate to appeal a criminal conviction”. The federal laws give accused persons on criminal offences the right to appeal in a single review.
According to McGoldrick (2005), “the plain error rule is the law that gives an appeals court the power to repeal a sentence and require a new trial”. It usually takes effect when it is proofed that there occurred grave errors in the proceedings. This happens regardless of whether there was an objection immediately after occurrence of the error. The manner in which instructions are issued to the panel of judges may be conflicting, which may cause unfair judgment. Through the plain error rule, such a case may necessitate a new trial, although no appropriate objection was made at the right time in regard to the instructions issued. It is mainly meant to uphold the fact that every person is supposed to receive a just trial and that new trials are not given to individuals because of simple and harmless flaws in the proceedings.
It is important to preserve objections to the instructions given to the jury in order to ensure that the trial court is able to develop a precise and concise statement of the statute for giving instructions to the jury instead of preserving points upon appeal. It is also important to preserve objections in order to serve as an assertion of mistakes especially when a court clearly fails to offer the requested instructions by a party, or when it is reflected in the records of the court that the matter is preserved prior to instructions. Objections allow important reviews when it becomes necessary.
In conclusion, the plain error rule is important in protecting the rights of an accused person. McGoldrick (2005) observes that, “the plain-error rule is generally beneficial to the accused person”. The courts of appeal tend to make corrections in regard to the mistakes that are regarded as “plain” errors in the law. Disregarding the impact of such errors could be disadvantageous to the defendant. In the appellant court, the defendant usually takes a different lawyer in the proceedings. A cross-appeal has to be present in order for the appellate judges to be allowed by the plain error rule to be involved in the evaluation of high ranking officials who may have found it unnecessary to appeal a judgment in a specific criminal hearing owing to the expenditures involved. The rule is also significant in protecting the integrity of the courts and repute in the public sphere through promotion of justice in all the legal proceedings.
Lowry J. (1994). “Plain Error Rule-Clarifying Plain Error Analysis under Rule 52(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure”. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 84, pp 56-78.
McGoldrick J. (2005). Limits on States: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution, Praeger.
Vile J. (1997). A Companion to the United States Constitution and its Amendments, Praeger.