It is important to see the criminal justice system (CJS) as something real and approachable. Much of our course will involve lectures and videos so I would like to see you interact in a very specific way with the workings of the justice system.
The courthouse is open to the public in most cases between 9 — 4, M-F. Recesses (breaks) are usually taken at about 10:30 am and 2:30 pm and the courtroom is locked during this time. You can check the list for the type of cases that day at the Court Registry.
Note: No hats, gum or tape recorders permitted in the courtroom and you must dress respectfully (e g. no shorts or revealing/inappropriate language shirts).
If you have any questions about the proceedings you may go to the Court Registry counter and speak to an employee there or approach and introduce yourself to the Court Sheriff.
Observe the proceedings for at least an hour. You may take notes but do not include names, just observations. If there is a media ban you might be asked by a sheriff to show your notes to them to verify that you are not including names. You are to observe who is doing what (roles, attitudes, etc.) and things you like or do not like about how things go on.
Write a report on what you saw and research one element of a case or the courts that interested you. For example, you could explain how a person becomes a court clerk, the role of crown or defence, a legal defence, a charge or pre-trial practices of the police. You must have at least one credible source outside of the textbook for that portion of your report.
Structure and Mission of the Provincial Court of British Columbia
A court is considered to be an institution which assists to settles disputes through an appropriate legal process. In court, people come for resolving their disagreements. It is being carried out by a judge who is responsible to hear and give judgment on criminal and civil cases. Thus, the court plays a significant role in ensuring that the laws are being followed strictly (Legal Research, 2018). The courts are significant because they protect the constitutional rights under the law. The Provincial Court of British Columbia is the trial court that hears cases in civil, family and criminal matters in British Columbia.
The Provincial Court of Columbia is serving the people of British Columbia by giving an approachable, honest, effective and innovative structure of justice. The Court is committed to giving a platform for justice that is unconventional, unbiased and consistent. It provides people with equal access; it means it does not matter whether the person is from a poor background or immigrant everyone has equal access. It also emphasizes maintaining respect for the law and the rules. The mission of the court is to provide a forum which should be impartial, consistent and must have equal access for all the people of the country (Provincial Court of British Columbia, 2018). There was a bench which was not a chair, but a large desk. Just behind that judge use to sit in front of the courtroom. There was a small area which was surrounded by the railings. It was witness box within that box there was a chair so that witness can sit as well. Chambers of judges was also there which was looking like a small conformance room. That room may be used for hearing. Jury box was on the other side with multiple seats and rows and a division of wall of some sort. The clerk was sitting just near to the judge which was looking like witness stand (About the Court, 2018). There was a Court reporter who was generally making notes of everything which was being said in a legal proceeding. There was also a bailiff to maintain peace and security in the courtroom. The Provincial Court of Columbia remains open from 9 am to 4 pm and the refresher breaks are being taken around at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm and during this time Court remain closed for public.
The cases are being heard in the Provincial Court of Columbia can be divided into five main categories:
Categories of Cases Heard in the Provincial Court
Criminal cases: More than 95% criminal cases are being heard in Provincial Court. The judges of Provincial Court needs to conduct trials of all kind of criminal cases excluding adult being charged for murdering someone. There are few more charges which cannot be conducted by the Provincial Court such as treachery and “alarming her majesty.
Family Case: The Provincial Court helps the couples who have separated and an argument with parenting arrangements and financial support, under the Family Law Act (Kirton & Madunic, 2009).
Youth Court Case: In regards to youth case, the judges of Provincial Court deals the criminal offences which have been charged on young persons, mainly aged between 12 to 17 years.
Small claim cases: Whether a claim case can be heard in the Provincial Court of British Columbia or not depends on the amount of the claim. The Provincial Court of British Columbia deals with those claims only where the involvement of claim amount is in range of$5001to $35000 (Provincial Court, 2018).
Traffic, ticket and bylaw cases: This includes the offences related to traffic as per the Motor Vehicle Act and regulations. Federal Contravention Tickets is for an offence related to fishing, such as fishing without having any licence according to the Fishers Act.
I observed the court very well but I want answers to some questions (FAQ, 2018). Some of the questions that I wondered while observing the Provincial Court of British Columbia are as follows:
- How are judicial justices and judges addressed in the Provincial Court?
- What happens at each phase of the criminal prosecution?
- How are people brought to the court are charged with offences?
- If a person as required does not appear in the court then what will happen?
- How does the criminal trial proceed?
- Anyone can represent himself as a lawyer in the court if he or she cannot get a lawyer?
- Can I apply for a position in the Provincial Court?
The people in the courthouse did not seem interested in the case apart from those who were attached to the case which was being heard. Others were having a chit-chat with each other. And the number one problem is being faced by the court is that the visitors are urinating in the elevators. The people of two different parties were kind of threatening each other. Though there was security to prevent any violation. It can also be noticed that how people try to save a criminal, even though they know that the person was involved in the crime (Kirton & Madunic, 2009).
The judge in the provincial court of British Columbia has the power to make a decision on the basis of evidence and facts. The parties that are involved in the cases are defendants, plaintiffs, lawyer and judge. The plaintiff is the one who brings the case claiming that he has been injured due to the wrongful act carried out by the defendant. The defendant is the one who is being sued in the case by the plaintiff (Courts of BC, 2018). The lawyer is the one who practices acts and law as an advocate for the party. The judge in the court examines the case appropriately in order to resolve the disputes and makes the right decision. It is being found in most of the cases that both the parties try to save themselves by providing evidence and facts. They do not want to get punishment from the court as per the law. The lawyer also tries to protect his or her party by using facts and evidence (Evans, 2018).
The Provincial Court of British Columbia carries out over 95% of criminal cases out of total cases. The Provincial court judges under the criminal law and code can carry out trails of all the criminal cases except the adults who are murder and have some offences such as alarming majesty and treason. The judicial justices and Provincial Court judges in the criminal cases conduct bail hearings, preliminary trials and hearing when an accused individual appeal not guilty and punishing individual who found guilty (Criminal Cases, 2018). Apart from this, when the criminal code needs that some offences be carried out in the Provincial Court then it provides a choice to people with several serious offences to have their trial in the Supreme or Provincial Court. If a person selects Supreme Court then either the accused person or Crown prosecutor can appeal that the preliminary inquiry is held in the Provincial Court. The Provincial Court judge at the end of the preliminary inquiry does not take a decision on guilt rather they take a decision on whether there is enough evidence for committing the accused for standing trial in Supreme Court (Reid, 2013).
The Provincial Court of British Columbia plays a significant role in serving people by providing them with a fair, accessible, innovative and efficient justice system. Legal rules and regulations are being followed by all the members of the courts in an appropriate manner in order to ensure fair decisions are being taken.
About the Court. (2018). About the Court | Provincial Court of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/about-the-court
Courts of BC. (2018). Provincial Court of BC - Courts of BC. Retrieved from https://www.courtsofbc.ca/provincial-court.php
Criminal Cases. (2018). Criminal Cases | Provincial Court of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/types-of-cases/criminal-and-youth
Evans, M. (2018). International law (8th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
FAQ. (2018). FAQ | Provincial Court of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/about-the-court/faq#cpp07
Kirton, J., & Madunic, J. (2009). Global law (10th ed.). Farnham: Ashgate.
Legal Research. (2018). The Role of Courts in a Society. Retrieved from https://www.insearchofsanuk.com/the-role-of-courts-in-a-society/
Provincial Court. (2018). Types of Cases | Provincial Court of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/types-of-cases
Provincial Court of British Columbia. (2018). Provincial Court of British Columbia. Retrieved from https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/
Reid, S. (2013). Criminal law (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
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