Legal and Communication skills.
Visiting a Crown court or Magistrate court observing a case and reflecting.
World count -1800
The courts in England and Wales an establishment for the administration of justice by judges or magistrates. Is institution which resolving unlawful disputes, civil meters. The court of England and Wales is complicated regard of historically developed over a hundred years. In those day’s there is a variety of courts trying to manage justice and law in all country. The type of offence will make a difference as to where the case will be a trail. Example for that is Magistrates’ courts have the jurisdiction over a variety of matters involving of minor offences, more serious triable either way offences are referred to be tried in the Crown courts. There are also Courts of Appeal and Supreme Courts.
One a very important in English legal system or Common law system is the courtroom observation which can be witnessed from the public gallery. This performance is a purpose to make the legal process open and transparent to the public. However, this structure of our legal system makes an excellence trust between the population and the English legal system. Only some of the Family and Youth courts trail could be held privately. Regarding understand how courts are leads, I visited Blackfriars Crown court and Bromley Magistrate court.
Blackfriars Crown court
When I arrived at Blackfriars Crown court, outside the building there were security cameras on the exterior of the building. The building where modern clean from outside. There were two separate stairs to get into the courthouse and long ramp on both side of the stairs which were the facility for elderly and wheelchair users. When I entered the court, personal belongings were checked by security officers. Going through metal detectors, checking that you are not armed as a procedure everyone has to go through before entering the courthouse. In order to provide that a court is a safe place.
Entering on the courthouse I obtained a list of the cases attached to large size timetable on the main wall of the entrance. Inside of the court, it was beautiful big building with approximately ten or twenties courtrooms. In the centre of the court, there was a long waiting area. It was quiet and calm, with plenty sittings by the wall opposite the court’s rooms. Big and large size windows on the roof where made with nice architecture, proposing plenty of the sun to make nice atmosphere into the courthouse. It was astonishing.
On arrival Usher, were trying to organise the proceedings of the day, managing the different people where they should be for the first hearing. Usher was very helpful, guiding and managed all external work out of the courtroom.
The layout of the courtroom with Bench where Circuit Judge sat in the centre of it with another Circuit Judges sits on either side. The Justice Clerk sit in front of the Circuit Judge facing towards everyone else. On the left side of the courtroom was witness stand, on the right-hand side of the room where Jury members bench. There are two benches in the middle of the courtroom. First of which is occupied by the defendant and prosecution barristers. And the second bench where defence and prosecution solicitor. I was intimidated by the layout of the room, the quietness and the dock in the very back of the room. I feel like kind of scary even though you are outside of it. I would not imagine what it would be the feeling of defendants in the dock. On the left side of the dock where seating for the public, enclosed to the glass. There where the separate entrance to the courtroom and the public gallery. Usher sit where second line bench closed to the Justice Clerk. On the main wall behind Circuit Judge bench in the middle there where shield shaped and divided into two parts. One of the parts showed a lion and the other part depicted a unicorn with (Die et mon Droit) written on the bottom. The motto of the British monarch (God and my rights) extraordinary. There is two large size TV mounted, first one faced to the Judge and jury, and the second one for the public.
Usher very short white lady on middle age, she was checking very frequently the court room, looks like a guardian of the court. Her duty where to operating smooth running courtroom, and to ensure that assistance all guest was is in the seats. Also, to provide help to the Judge in the proceedings of a case. While I been in the courthouse she was helping me with all relevant cases.
Justice Clerk, it was a beautiful black female and was aged about thirty with good manner and kind. I had the chance to speak with her about her duty. She was a qualified solicitor. Her rule where to advise on points of law and procedure, but she has not permission to make a decision for the justices. Moreover: I think to be quite young age her knowledge of the legal system and laws should be very modern also advanced.
The court of England and Wales Criminal division have adversarial system, so there are two sides of the courtroom. Prosecution and defence.
The prosecution lawyer who was an English white male approximately on his fifty very tall men. And the defence lawyer where female short with brown hair. The both barristers wore long black robe and wig.
The defendant was approximately twenty –five. Wearing grey suit, black shose, with dark skin propably some parts of Asia. First instance he was looking very unconfutable and scared.
When the trail began Justice Clerk where asked to “All rise” when Circuit Judge entered in the courtroom. He wore a black gown and long red sash over his shoulder and a large wig. He was white male, approximately in his seventies. Once the jury had been entered the courtroom, they consist four females and eight males. The jury were of varying ages and deferent ethnic group. Five of the jury was female, rest of them male.
The prosecuting barrister began with his statement. Lay on the facts of the evidence. Relation of the evidence was given a few CCTV records from the investigation night. Which it was not proper clear to understand.
When the defence was read his opening speech, was less concerning the law and more concentrate on the facts of the case. The defendant barrister also calls a witness, he was asked to swear an oath. When all questioning is finished, the defence barrister gave a closing speech
During my visit to the Crown court, I was witnesses a trail concerning to serious harm. The case involved that client and his friends had been drinking in a bar one night when the defendant and his friends came in. There were a lot of triable between those two groups. Defendant and his friends began making laud and insulting comments about the defendant girlfriend. While the defendant group where laughing about it. Suddenly, client threw the bottle of alcohol very close to the defendant. The defendant was not aware of this situation until the bottle was thrown into the wall very close to him and crush, causing him to jump away instinctively. At that moment a lot of people were panicked and tried to run out of the bar. However, the floor was wet with beer and one of the customers was slipped and fell on the floor. The resulting damage was broken arm. The case had been transferred from Magistrate court to the Crown court. The case trailed second time in the Crown court.
During the four hours that I was witnessed at the Crown court, I did not see that judge interpreting the law. I observe that judge confirm whether the jury understood the law and the facts given. The case where transferred for the next day morning. I witness that the judge ask them to retire, without any pressure. It seem to me that he gave them time to discuss and to reach a majority verdict. I went to Crown court next week to get more information about the case. But the usher informed me that is confident and they are not able to give any information about any case.
During the case I observed that the different terms of law and procedures, where difficult to understand. End of the case I was exousted and tired. It is very difficult to concentrate to catch all the information.
Bromley Magistrate court
It was a big building layout on the main street. The building where red, with large black windows, modern clean from outside. There were three separate stairs to get into the courthouse and long ramp on one side of the stairs which were a facility for elderly and wheelchair users. On arrival at the court, personal belongings are checked as well by officers. The main deference I was witness on the entrance. There were five officers stood on the entrance. One of them where checking all the belongings. Going through metal detectors, in the end of that procedure they keep my perfume in one of their boxes with the number on the box. By this number I can collect my perfume when I am living the courthouse. It was strange to understand the reason of that procedure. I was hesitated to ask any question about it. Going through to the waiting area was very big actually large. On the main wall were attached timetable as a previous court. About ten rooms well seen on the corridor of the courthouse.
The courtroom in Magistrate court was set up differently on one which I been already. Was smaller, and the defendant’s box was in the centre of the room. On this courtroom position, I was unable to see the defendant. The Chief Magistrate was black female. The Justice clerk was a white female looked to be in her forties. Magistrate usher was white male, very young.
During my visit to the Magistrate Court, I was witnessed a one cases. Relation with unwanted touching of the bottom of the girl’s skirt. To rubbing of someone’s clothing without one’s consent amounted to the buttery and justify the intervention of criminal law. The case was transferred to Crown court in the fourteen days.
I observed that court usher and justice clerk were playing very large and important rule in the administration of external and internal courtrooms through all day. The language where spoken in the court room were sometimes dificoult to understand. The law terms and jurisdiction of the case.
I observed that cases in Magistrate court were passing quick from Crown court.
The courts visits support me to understand clear duty of Usher, Justice Clerk, Judges, barristers, solicitors. How the courthouse is operating. The observation in the courtroom provide with actual happen of all proceeding of a case. Wherever to support student in future study of the English legal system.