POLS 3300 Chapter 8: Readings/Articles for Week 8

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Week 8
Interactive Courtroom:
Coat of arms: in many courtrooms there is a Canadian coat of arms on the wall behind the
judge the reason for this is that it is an important symbol of the role of the law and the
courts in our community
Closed circuit television: the law allows witnesses under the age of 18 to give their
evidence through a closed-circuit television or behind a screen that separates the witness
from the accused these special measures are in place to help a young person give
testimony in trial for a sexual offence or where violence as occurred
o The judge will decide if a witness-aid will be allowed
Court room doors: the door to the left of the judge is used if the accused person is in
custody; the accused will enter and exit the courtroom from this door and the court security
officer will always accompany the accused person the door to the right is where the judge
enters and exits the courtroom; the court clerk accompanies the judge to and from the court
Court Officer: the Court Officer is responsible for keeping everyone safe in the courtroom
the Officer will also escort the accused person(s) to and from the courtroom if they are in
custody (in jail)
Flags: in many courtrooms there is a Canadian or Provincial flag; the flag is an important
symbol of the government and shows the importance of the law and courts to our community
Prisoner box: the accused person will sit in the courtroom during the trial; in some cases, the
accused will be placed in the prisoner box if he/she is in custody at the time of the court
hearing if the accused person is not in custody at the time of the court hearing, he/she may
sit near or beside the defence lawyer or in the prisoner box
Judge: the Judge listens carefully to everything that is said in court in provincial courtrooms
there is no jury; therefore, the judge must decide if the law has been broken
o The Crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of all
the things presented in court if the Crown does not prove a case beyond a
reasonable doubt, the Judge will find the accused not guilty
o If the Judge says the accused person is guilty, he/she will decide what the
punishment will be this is called a sentence
o Sentencing may not take place that day a sentencing hearing may be scheduled on
another day
o The Judge is also in charge of the courtroom the Judge sits at the front of the
courtroom and makes sure that the rules of the court are followed and everyone does
his or her job in court
Court Interpreter: in Canada, the trial will be in either French or English depending on the
language spoken by the accused and the province in which the trial is held the interpreter is
a professional translator hired by the court so that an accused or witness who speaks another
language, can understand and give evidence in court in the language they feel most
comfortable
Religious books: there are many religious books available to witnesses when they take an
oath in court; before you testify, you will be asked to swear or promise to tell the truth
people who practice religions may swear on the religious books of their faith; Aboriginal
people may take an oath holding an eagle feather; people who prefer not to take an oath on a
holy book, or do not practice a religion, are asked to solemnly affirm that they will tell the truth
Court Clerk: the Court Clerk is the official assistant to the Judge in the courtroom he/she
prepares the court schedule; the Court Clerk calls to court to order and reads the charges
against the accused; the Clerk will also ask each witness to swear, affirm or promise that they
will tell the truth
o This is done by giving an oath or promise by placing one hand on a religious book
like the Bible or Koran and promising that you will tell the truth in court this is called
an oath
o If you are not a religious person, you can choose to affirm
Court Reporter: the Court Reporter records everything that is said in the courtroom the
reporter sits close to the witness in order to hear clearly what is being said; the reporter
records the information by repeating what is said into a special recording machine or typing it
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Week 8
Witness stand: all evidence is presented through witnesses called to the stand by the crown
or Defence Attorney as a Victim of a crime you are a witness to what happened; other
witnesses such as medical professionals or the police may have particular knowledge of the
event as well; witnesses are sometimes asked to remain outside the courtroom
o When it is your turn to testify, the court clerk calls your name in special instances
you may testify from another room with closed circuit television system or be
screened away from the accused person
! This can only happen if you are under 18 years of age and the Judge allows
it
Investigating Officer: the Investigating Officer is the police officer that investigated the crime
and collected the evidence the investigating officer knows all about the case and helps the
Crown prosecutor by making sure that the Crown prosecutor has all of the information to ask
the important questions; the officer may also be a witness he/she will tell the court what
they saw or did in respect to your case
Crown Prosecutor/Attorney: the Crown Prosecutor is a lawyer who works for the province
or territories in this role, the crown prosecutor represents society
o Although the prosecutor may work closely with the victim and witnesses, he or she is
not a lawyer for the victim
o In court, the crown prosecutor presents the evidence about the crime by asking the
victim and other witnesses to tell the judge what happened this is called giving
evidence
Defence Counsel/Attorney the Defence Counsel is a lawyer that works for the person
accused of a crime in court, he/she will make sure the Judge hears the accused person’s
side of what happened and tests the evidence about what happened
o The defence counsel will ask questions after the Crown prosecutor has finished this
is called cross-examination
o The defence counsel does not have to tell the Crown prosecutor anything about their
case
o You may hear 2 lawyers call each other “my friend” when they talk to the Judge this
is used to indicate respect for one another, it does not mean that they are personal
friends
The Accused: the Accused is the person(s) who has been charged with committing a crime
o The law says that the accused person has the right to hear what the witnesses say
about the crime therefore the accused person will be in the courtroom during the
trial, but will not necessarily sit next to the defence counsel
o Another rule in Canadian law is that the accused has the right to remain silent at the
trial that means he/she does not have to testify
Public benches: courtrooms are open to the public; this helps ensure that a trial is open and
fair in special cases a judge may make an order that the courtroom will be closed to the
public, which will mean when you testify, your friends and family will not be able to stay with
you; the judge can grant a support person to stay with you if a courtroom is ordered closed
People with Disabilities: the government is working to make the courts more accessible for
people with a disability if you are a witness who has a disability or a medical condition
requiring special support, you should tell the lawyer, police officer or the Victim/Witness
Assistance Program before the court date
o They can make the court a safe and comfortable place for you to testify
Victim/Witness Worker: many courtrooms in Canada have a Victim/Witness Program
Victim/Witness Court workers make sure that victims of a crime are supported throughout all
stages of the justice system
o They can provide information about how court works and help witnesses cope with
testifying
o Also, staff make sure that victims are treated with respect and receive all the services
that are available
Native Worker: the Native Court Worker help to make sure that Aboriginal people who are
involved in the legal system are treated fairly and in a way that is sensitive to their culture
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Week 8
the court worker will give support and help to Aboriginal people regardless of status or where
they live
The Press: newspaper reporters are often in the courtroom to report on trials this is
another way to ensure that the courts are open to the public
o They are not allowed to take any pictures
o A judge can make an order that reporters do not print specific information about the
victim or offender or some details of the trial this is intended to protect the privacy
of victims and witnesses of a crime and to make sure witnesses can give evidence in
court without being embarrassed or experience severe consequences
o There is an automatic ban on reporting the names of young offenders or victims or
witnesses under the age of 18 who have been involved in sexual offences
o A victim, witness, or the Crown prosecutor on their behalf can request that the judge
order the press not to report their names or some details of the trial
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