Which court did you attend and what was the date of your attendance? 2. What kind of hearing did you attend? I attended a sentencing in Penlight district court, before the sentencing there were a string of mentions that I also watched to deepen my understanding of the courtroom and the roles of the people there. 3. What were the charges against the defendant? Were these summary or indictable offences? How did you know this? The defendant was charged with three indictable offences.
These included two counts of burglary and stealing (sass (4)) and one count of unlawful use of a motor icicle (SAA (1) (a)). I knew that they were indictable offences because the charges were heard in a district court and were punishable by a prison term not Just a fine or community service (Prone, S. & White, R. 2005). 4. Who was present in the courtroom? Identify the positions of all the people present and give a brief description of their role and what you observed them do in the courtroom during your visit. In the court room there were many different people playing their particular roles.
The Judge presides over the case and in the adversarial system is seen to be a neutral umpire. The Judge also determines the sentence based on the cases of both the defense and the crown. (Finally, M. , Codgers. S. & Yea. S. 2005). The bailiffs role was to keep order to the court and proceedings, they conveyed papers and other evidence from the Barrister”s to the Judge”s Associate or Judge himself, they also administer the oath for any witnesses, say the pledge when the Judge arrives and departs and also begins and concludes all sessions.
The Judge”s Associate is like a secretary, she/he sits in front of and below the Judge; he/she reads out the charges and takes the plea; they also amend all documents with the Judge”s instruction. The crown prosecutor pleas the case against the defendant on behalf of Regina (the queen) or the community opposed to an individual victim. They directly work for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, they are assisted by a legal clerk and wear a black robe and a wig (Finally, M. , Codgers. S. Yea. S. 2005). The Defense Barrister is also present and assisted by a Solicitor. The Solicitor hires the Barrister and conveys instructions from the Defendant to the Barrister. The Barrister presents his/her Defendant”s case, giving a history and any information that is in the Defendants favor for the Judge to know when making a decision in the sentencing. To do so by the Judge, a police officer was also present and in the box with the Defendant but he did not directly part-take in the case.
A witness was sitting with the public before being called to the stand to give a personal reference for the defendant, they were sworn in on a bible for being able to give this evidence (Queensland police service website retrieved 9th September 2009) The public are also present; this keeps the concept of a liberal democratic Justice system true to its aims and the fact that our Justice system works on a due process incept. Unless the case involves a Juvenile or is a matter of national security then an open court is required (Chisholm, R. & Neither, G. 2007). 5.
Briefly describe what was happening in the courtroom. Everyone was let into the courtroom by the bailiff who asked us to all rise as the Judge came into the courtroom as the Judge was doing so the bailiff gave a little introduction ending with ћgod save the queen”. The bailiff then asked us to be seated. The Prosecution gave a short introduction of the case including the charges the Crown has brought against the Defendant and asks for arraignment of these harass. The Judge asks the Defendant to stand and the Judge”s Associate reads the charges and asks for the Defendants pleas.
He pleads guilty to all three charges then the Judge asks him to be seated. The Prosecutor then proceeds with his side of the case, this included the Defendants age and his background, and that the Defendant has a criminal record filled with similar offenses which the Bailiff retrieves along with a schedule of facts and conveys these from the Prosecution to the Judge. After the Judge had had a minute to read these the Prosecution continued, outlining the minor details of the crimes. The Prosecution as part of their argument read out a victim impact statement given by a victim of the Defendant”s crimes.
The Prosecution then went on to note the tremendous cooperation of the Defendant and suggested community service rather than a Jail sentence, his reasons being that community service would have a general and personal deterrence and also give back to the community in which the Defendant had taken. The Prosecution then said they had nothing further to say and the Defense started to argue their case. The Defense mentioned that when seen by witnesses the Defendant was with another person during the time in which the crimes occurred, however the Defendant will not “Dobb” on his accomplice but rather take the full responsibility himself.
They continued by giving a very detailed family history of the Defendant which included a quadriplegic father and his own medical history, emphasizing the fact that he suffered from ADD, SAD, ODD and CD, also MOM” syndrome (a chromosomal disease) and that it was important for emphasized it had been an opportunistic offence. They went on to tell the Judge about what the defendant had done since he had committed the offences. This included lots of community service and the involvement in a troubled youth training program. To strengthen their argument they called a witness.
The man had been sitting with the public before the Judge asked him to proceed to the witness box, before he sat the Bailiff asked him to place his hand on a bible and be sworn in. He was then questioned by the defense before being handed over but the Prosecution did not ask any questions of the witness. With this the witness returned to his former seat, the Defense emphasized that the defendant had done some voluntary community service, that it was an opportunistic offence and the change in her clients behavior since the offence.
The Defense agreed with the Prosecution and asked for community service opposed to a Jail term. The Judge then made his decision and gave his sentence along with reasons for his judgment. The Judge said without the Defendants own initiative the change his life he would have sentenced him to a Jail term due to all the previous offences and the lack of effective deterrence. The Judge sentenced him to nine months probation and 80 hours community service; 40 hours for both counts of burglary. The Judge read UT the conditions of both the community service and the probation.
Due to the defendants location it would be telephone probation meaning he could report over the phone. The Judge asked the defendant if he understood this and if he was going to comply with these conditions, the defendant said yes. The Judge informed him that this would not go onto his permanent record. The Bailiff asked us to all stand, and as the Judge left the room the bailiff gave a concluding ћgod save the queen” and declared the session over. 6. What was the most interesting thing you observed during your visit?
What I found interesting the in courtroom was all the words that I have learnt in my criminology subjects were integrated into the lawyers speeches, used with ease and as everyday language. The court room was also completely different from the perception that most people have of them and the proceedings that go on inside. Society gets a view of an all out war between lawyers, a stern Judge and the media swarming outside. However the Barristers were Joking outside the courtroom, the Judge made a few Jokes throughout the session and there was not a news camera in sight.
This stereotype is due to TV shows such as law and order that portray the courts this way. 7. Was it easy to understand what was happening in the court room? Whey not? I believe without the background learning that I have had during my criminology classes I would have found it harder to understand the proceedings was evident and logical. 8. Do you think the defendant would understand the court process you observed? What about a witness, or a victim of crime, or a Jury member? I believe that the defendant and witness may have been a little overwhelmed at the start of the case with the formality of the proceedings.
Although I believe that the solicitor would have walked them through it beforehand, the process would have been easy to understand however some of the language used by the lawyer may have been a little confusing for both the witness and the Defendant to understand. 9. Critically reflect upon your experience. Australia”s criminal Justice system is an adversarial system; this means that the defense and prosecution fight for their side of the case following the rules of evidence and procedure. The Judge is seen as a neutral umpire who reaches a decision based on evidence and arguments (Chisholm, R.
Neither, G. 2007). Part of this system is the concept of due process, that everyone has the right to a fair trial, that the law is supreme and even the law makers must abide by it and the concept of innocent until proven guilty (Chisholm, R. & Neither, G. 2007). It was evident in the court room in which I attended that due process was operating, the defendant was given notice to appear in court as he was willingly there waiting for the trial to start. As an accused he was also given the right to a fair trial and had the option to legal representation which he accepted.