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Observations Made During the Visit to the Wood Green Crown Court

Describe the facts of Principles of Law for LLB Law.

The visit and observation

Name and address of the court visited

I visited Wood Green Crown Court which is located at Woodall House, Lordship Lane, London N22 5LF.

Date visited and time spent at Court

I visited the Wood Green Crown Court on 3 March 2016. I entered the Court premises at 10:30 am and left at 13:30 pm. Thus, I spend three and an half hours observing the said court and its proceedings[1].

Details of Court officials

During my visit, I observed two different types of court officials. These court officials were court clerk and court usher. I was confused as to the responsibilities of these officials, that is when the court usher introduced me to the court clerk stating the following obligations he requires to perform. I observed that a court clerk is usually responsible for assessing and helping the judge and procedure of the proceedings. The court clerk needs to ensure that everything is in place and everyone is right on time for the court proceedings to start. In case any issues arises, the court clerk informs the judges about the same also helping the judge to update and prepare documents in relation to each proceedings conducted[2]. Additionally, a 50 year old man dressed in a suit introduced himself to me when I first entered a courtroom[3]. He first introduced me to the court clerk and then stated he is the court usher who is responsible for the overall smooth working of a proceeding. It is the duty of a court ushers to ensure that the lawyers, defendants, witnesses and the judges are present in the right position to attend the proceeding. Moreover, the court usher is responsible for calling out the witnesses and the defendants whenever required along with administering oath. The said court usher also stated that Sworn Ushers’ are responsible for escorting the jury and the judges in and outside courtroom and taking messages from judges and jury. The court usher was a great help to me as he guided me where to sit after all the said explanation. In the courtroom I entered, a female judge, two barristers and two lawyers were also present.

Description of Judge and Jury of the Crown Court visitied

The courtroom I entered had a female judge around 50 years in age. She was dressed in court formals and looked very used polished and sophisticated. As she was dealing with accused of tender and young age, she had a very sensitive approach and at the same time appeared strict whenever required[4].

Overview of the Court Officials and their Responsibilities

Case summary

I observed two different cases. The first case related to the offence of grievous hurt. In the said case, a college student harmed another student causing him to suffer serious injuries. The said case was presented by two barristers and lawyer for each side. The defense layer stated that there was no clear evidence to prove the said event demanding dismissal. However, the claimant lawyer stated the presence of evidence in the college CCTV. However, the said case was adjourned and police was asked to bring the CCTV footage in the next hearing. The next case involved a 25 year old man who was caught possessing Class A drugs. He was present with is aunty and a probation officer and the said man pleaded guilty. The lawyer of the said man stated that the 25 year old man is now reformed and is working positively with his aunty. The judge stated she will sentence the man to 12 months of jail and release him occasionally to serve suspended sentence. The probation officer was asked to report the conduct of the said man quarterly.

Whether the defendants where legally represented

In the two cases which I observed, both the accused were represented by lawyers. In fact, in my opinion, both the accused were aware of their offences and in the second case, the accused pleaded guilty and the lawyer just helped him to get a considerably low order or sentence[5].

Defendants understating of the case

In my opinion, the lawyers in both the cases did a great task to do the best for their clients. In the first case, the defendant lawyers of the student who was accused request dismissal of case due to lack of evidence and the claimant lawyers stated to provide CCTV footage as evidence. Moreover, in the second case, the lawyer of the man who was caught possessing drugs did a great job in lowering the sentence of the man and making the judge see the sensitive side of the offender. Thus, proper representation can be very helpful like in the second case observed by me. In my opinion, the offenders and the parties in the said two cases understood what was happening in the proceeding, however, I believe in complex proceedings of murder, rape, the complex proceeding must be difficult for a layman to grab[6].

There are many judiciary bodies in the United Kingdom amongst which the Crown Courts are established to hear serious criminal offences which are headed by a judge or a jury[7]. In the said criminal cases, the judge makes the orders using appropriate law and manages the proceedings of the trail. Moreover, the jury in the said cases considers the evidences after which it decides whether the accused is guilty or innocent. In criminal cases where jury considers the accessed guilty, the judge passes the sentence where accused is sentenced to appropriate prison term. It is the duty of the judge of Crown Courts to ensure that the jury is aware of its legal position at every proceeding so that the law is not defeated[8]. The duties of the judge in a Crown Court are as follows:-

Details of the Judge and Jury of the Crown Court visited

The judge in a Crown Court is in charge of the trail.

It is the duty of the judge of the Crown Court to ensure that the proceedings are fairly conducted[9]

The judge in a Crown Court sentences the accused whenever found guilty

The judges in the Crown Courts have the power to override the guilty decision of the jury, however, the said power is rarely used in exceptional cases[10]

Thus, in the said case I believe the female judge who was heading the criminal proceeding observed by me did everything to fulfill her duty as a judge of the Crown Court. In the first case, where a student was accused of causing grievous hurt to another student, the judge called or the jury to look for the evidence. However, as the evidence was not available in the present proceeding which I witnessed, the jury was called upon the review the evidences in the following date of proceeding. In the said case, the female judge managed the trial, the said judge did not dismiss the case before reviewing evidence claimed to be presented which makes the trial fair[11]. Thus, in the first case, the said female judge did everything to fulfill her duties as a judge of the Crown Court. In the second case, a 25 year old man was caught possessing Group A drugs. In the said case, the attitude of the judge was very comforting and friendly and she spoke to the accused in relation to the facts of the case very casually[12]. I observed that in the Crown Court, judges are given certain discretionary powers which can be used whenever required or whenever the judge feels appropriate to use the same. In the said case, the female judge used her discretionary power to sentence the 25 year old man with community services which is allowed under the statute of England and Wales. The female judge was very friendly and appreciated the man for pleading his guilt and welcoming the reformation in his life by offering serve to the community and reforming his lifestyle including the new job he has initiated[13]. The female judge showed her sensitive side in trying to encourage offenders to become respected citizens of the society, thus, the said man was freed on the condition that he continues to undertake the training and help from the probation officer until he ensures the Court that he is a perfect and an active member of the society. The judge in the said case considered the fact that the sad offence was the first offence of the accused and concentrated more on reformation than punishment which proves that the said female judge is very efficient and believes in not only punishing offenders but also reforming them to leave the world of crime and live respectfully as citizens of the society. Thus, the female judge in the courtroom I visited possessed every quality and fulfilled every duty required to be fulfilled by an efficient and an experience judge of the Crown Court.

Summary of the Cases Observed at the Court

My first visit to the Crown Courts taught me how the English law actually operates. In theory, we study courtrooms proceedings and the attitude of judges and lawyers to be very serious and engaging, however my experience made me realize that the proceeding in reality including the attitude of the personnel in the courtroom is very friendly and clam. I was welcomed in the Court where the guard introduced me to the receptionist who assisted me to visit Courtroom No. 6 where proceeding had just begun. Crown Courts deliver justice that is fair and detailed and a trial can take months to complete from the date of its first proceeding. Thus, the proceedings in the Crown Courts are quick to the point and yet review every detail of the case. There are majorly four types of activities which take place in a Crowns Court. These activities are appeal from magistrate Courts decision, sentencing defendants from magistrate courts, conducting jury trails and sentencing accused who are considered guilty during or after trail in the Crown Courts. The Crown Courts was established to hear criminal trials and there is no further appeal above the decision of the said Court except High Court. Thus, the Crown Courts stand right in the middle having a superior position than the Magistrate Courts in United Kingdom but lower than the Hugh Courts. Thus, my visit to the Crown Court taught me a lot about the hierarchy along with the manner in which the lawyers, judges and barristers are dressed in a courtroom and the elegance which they criminal carry in conducting themselves. I feel my visit was worth it and wish I could stay longer or re-visit to understand much more about criminal proceedings of more serious offences and also experience the conduct of lawyers and judges along with jury in criminal matters which are complex and require a lot of application of law to present facts. I would love to visit a Crown Court and observe many different proceedings relating to different offences and learn to develop the thinking which lawyers and judges apply while arguing and deciding a criminal case. Additionally, I would also like to personally speak to the judges and the lawyers in the Crown Courts and ask them to share their rare and valued experience with me or guide me as to how I can learn and observe law in the practical world of courtrooms[14]. However, the journey of arguing a matter in my opinion is a long process which is expensive in nature as the Crown Courts are established in geographically bigger cities o the United Kingdom[15]. In my next visit, I would thus, also like to know the approximate cost of filing or arguing a criminal matter in the Crowns Court in the United Kingdom. The best feature I observed about the English legal system was that used both the claimant and the accused were given equal chance to present their case with or without the help of lawyers which makes the trial proceeding fair and guarantees delivery of justice in the appropriate manner. Thus, the said visit to the Wood Green Crown Court has enhanced my knowledge about how law is practically applied in courtrooms and how judges have powers which can be used in exceptional cases f the statute permits. The said visit has also increased my curiosity to personally communicate or assist a lawyer to gain over all and a deeper insight of the criminal law in the United Kingdom[16].

Understanding of the Defendants in the Observed Cases

Ashworth, Andrew, and J. Roberts. "The origins and nature of the sentencing guidelines in England and Wales." Sentencing guidelines: exploring the english model. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2013): 1-12.

Ashworth, Andrew, and Jeremy Horder. Principles of criminal law. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Ashworth, Andrew, and Mike Redmayne. The criminal process. Oxford University Press, USA, 2010.

Bean, Philip. Drugs and crime. Routledge, 2014.

Board, Judicial Studies. "Crown court bench book: Directing the jury."London, UK: Author (2010).

Dicey, Albert Venn. The law of the Constitution. Vol. 1. OUP Oxford, 2013.

Easton, Susan, and Christine Piper. Sentencing and punishment: The quest for justice. Oxford University Press, 2012.

George, E. "UK Computer Misuse Act–The Trojan Virus Defence Regina v Aaron Caffrey, Southwark Crown Court, 17 October 2003." Digital Investigation 1 (2015).

Law, Jonathan, ed. A dictionary of law. OUP Oxford, 2015.

Malleson, Kate, and Richard Moules. The legal system. Vol. 2. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Radnor, Zoe, and Robert Johnston. "Lean in UK Government: internal efficiency or customer service?." Production Planning & Control 24.10-11 (2013): 903-915.

Roberts, Paul, and Adrian Zuckerman. Criminal evidence. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Slapper, Gary, and David Kelly. The English Legal System: 2011-2012. Taylor & Francis, 2011.

Tomkins, Adam. "The role of the courts in the political constitution."University of Toronto Law Journal 60.1 (2010): 1-22.

Ward, Jenni. "Are problem solving courts the way forward for justice."Howard League What Is Justice working papers 2 (2014): 2014.

Young, David, et al. Abuse of process in criminal proceedings. Tottel Pub., 2012.

[1] Board, Judicial Studies. "Crown court bench book: Directing the jury."London, UK: Author (2010).

[2] Ashworth, Andrew, and Mike Redmayne. The criminal process. Oxford University Press, USA, 2010.

[3] Tomkins, Adam. "The role of the courts in the political constitution."University of Toronto Law Journal 60.1 (2010): 1-22.

[4] Roberts, Paul, and Adrian Zuckerman. Criminal evidence. Oxford University Press, 2010.

[5] Malleson, Kate, and Richard Moules. The legal system. Vol. 2. Oxford University Press, 2010.

[6] Slapper, Gary, and David Kelly. The English Legal System: 2011-2012. Taylor & Francis, 2011

[7] Easton, Susan, and Christine Piper. Sentencing and punishment: The quest for justice. Oxford University Press, 2012.

[8] Radnor, Zoe, and Robert Johnston. "Lean in UK Government: internal efficiency or customer service?." Production Planning & Control 24.10-11 (2013): 903-915.

[9] Ashworth, Andrew, and Jeremy Horder. Principles of criminal law. Oxford University Press, 2013.

[10] Dicey, Albert Venn. The law of the Constitution. Vol. 1. OUP Oxford, 2013.

 [11] Ward, Jenni. "Are problem solving courts the way forward for justice."Howard League What Is Justice working papers 2 (2014): 2014.

[12] Bean, Philip. Drugs and crime. Routledge, 2014.

[13] Ashworth, Andrew, and J. Roberts. "The origins and nature of the sentencing guidelines in England and Wales." Sentencing guidelines: exploring the english model. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2013): 1-12.

[14] Young, David, et al. Abuse of process in criminal proceedings. Tottel Pub., 2012.

[15] Law, Jonathan, ed. A dictionary of law. OUP Oxford, 2015.

[16] George, E. "UK Computer Misuse Act–The Trojan Virus Defence Regina v Aaron Caffrey, Southwark Crown Court, 17 October 2003." Digital Investigation 1 (2015).

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