In most cases, matters are held in an open court. This means that many people may be present. They include: (link to descriptions below)
Judge / President / Magistrate
The judge is responsible for the fair conduct of a trial and ensures it operates according to the rules of law and that those involved act within the guidelines of good legal practice. The judge answers questions on law, directs the jury, and maintains the smooth operation of the court. At the end of a trial, the judge addresses the jury and instructs them as to the applicable law and makes comments on the evidence where required. The judge is also responsible for sentencing.
A judge presides over trials in the District Court and the Supreme Court. The judge is referred to as The Honourable Justice 'Smith' and is addressed as "Your Honour". In a criminal trial, the judge wears a wig and a red gown.
A president is similar to a judge and presides over more serious matters before the Children’s Court.
A magistrate hears trials in the Magistrates Court and Children’s Court without a jury.
Associate / judicial support officer
The associate is a member of the judge's personal staff, and helps in the administration of the court including preparing documents, recording decisions and issuing forms and warrants.
They sit in front of the judge in the District Court and the Supreme Court, and the President of the Children’s Court, and assist in the running of the court.
A judicial support officer is similar to an associate but this person sits in front of a magistrate in the Magistrates Court and Children’s Court.
A lawyer employed by the accused or defendant to represent them in court.
A lawyer who presents the prosecution case.
In the District Court and the Supreme Court, this is a usually a lawyer from the State or Commonwealth office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. They conduct criminal proceedings on behalf of the State.
In the Magistrates Court, this is usually a specially trained police officer, a lawyer or representative from the agency initiating the prosecution.
Defendant / accused
The person charged with committing an offence. If convicted, the accused is referred to as the offender.
A person called to give evidence under oath on behalf of the prosecution or the defence.
A jury consists of 12 people from the community who are selected at random from a pool drawn from the electoral roll. The duty of each juror is to listen carefully to the evidence and decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Also a member of the magistrate's or judge's staff who calls witnesses and helps to keep order in the court.
Court appointed officer
If you are granted special witness status and give your evidence via closed circuit television, you will be accompanied by a court appointed officer.
The Sheriff is responsible for the welfare, care, control, supervision and protection of jurors during and after trial and service and execution of court documents.
Journalists sit in court and report on proceedings.
Ensures all court evidence is recorded on tape.
Courtrooms are open to the public and members of the public are encouraged to attend trials to see for themselves how our courts operate.
An interpreter is available at no cost to help witnesses from a non-English speaking background who experiences language difficulties when giving evidence.
Last updated: 18-Feb-2013
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