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The role of Judges and lay people in Courts

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Darryl Davies

on 8 October 2012

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Transcript of The role of Judges and lay people in Courts

The Roles of Personnel in the Courts General Outcome:-
Know the role undertaken by the personnel of the courts Specific Outcomes:-
1. To be able to describe the role of judges and lawyers in criminal trials in England and Wales
2. To be able to describe the roles of lay people in criminal trials in England and Wales
3. To be able to compare the roles and functions of paid and lay personnel in the court system in England and Wales
4. To be able to analyse in a critical fashion the role of lay people in England and Wales Assignment
P2 - Describe the role of judges, lawyers and lay people in criminal trials in England and Wales

M1 - compare the roles and functions of paid and lay personnel within the court system of England and Wales

D1 - Critically analyse the role of lay personnel within the court system of England and Wales Let us remind ourselves of the lay out of the Crown Court Task 1
Name the paid and lay personnel in the diagram 5+7= (cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr Paid Personnel
in Crown court
Clerk of the Court
Barristers (prosecution/defence)
Usher Lay Personnel
in Crown Court
The Jury What do the paid people do? The Judge A judge is an elected or appointed official who conducts court proceedings.
Judges must be impartial and strive to properly interpret the meaning, significance, and implications of the law.
If the defendant cannot afford to hire a lawyer, the judge must appoint a lawyer to them.
The judge also sets the bail.
Once the defendant has an attorney and his or her bail amount has been set, he or she enters a plea of guilty or not guilty.
The judge must ensure that the plea has been made voluntarily. The Stenographer A stenographer is a trained professional who transcribes trials in real time.
Many stenographers are court reporters.
They record witness testimony, lawyer questioning, and judge instructions.
If ever there is a dispute about what was said, the stenographer can simply refer to his or her transcripts, and instantly set the record straight.
Lawyers refer to them often when looking for possible avenues of appeal
Judges may also review them before giving a final judgment. Clerk of the Court Does a number of jobs:-
Accepts pleas
Files information in case of appeal
Reads oath to witnesses/defendants
Helps judge The Solicitor Usually work in a patnership
e.g HFT Gough & Co, Whitehaven
They deal directly with the public and offer advice
They are regulated by the Law Society
Solicitors can act as Advocates (see glossary of terms) Main Function in criminal cases is to do pre-trial work for the barrister.
If the case is held in the Magistrate's Court (court of the first instance) the solicitor may act as advocate The Solicitors Regulation Authority stipulates minimum starting salaries of £18,590 for trainee solicitors working in London and £16,650 for trainees working elsewhere in England and Wales.
Salaries for qualified solicitors can range from £25,000 - £75,000.
Salaries for partners in large firms can exceed £100,000 + profits Salaries for Solicitors Barristers / Silks Salary Typical starting salaries during training/pupillage: £10,000.
Self-employed barristers typical salaries: £25,000 - £300,000.
Barristers in the Crown Prosecution Service: £29,000 - £80,000.
Barristers with ten or more years of experience: £65,000 - £1,000,000.
Most are self-employed so must meet running costs Barristers act as Advocates in the Crown Court or superior court
Do not deal directly with public (done through solicitor) Salary The average salary for a Clerk Of Court in the UK is:
£24,000 Salary Stenographers based in London and other large cities are usually paid higher salaries (between £18,000 and £28,000), while people based in other locations can earn salaries in the range of £12,000 and £20,000 per annum.

Experienced stenographers can earn salaries between £25,000 and £50,000. based upon your amount of work experience, your level of expertise and your reputation within judicial circles Salary Depending on the level you reach:-
A District Judge:- £102,921
The Lord Chancelloer:- £239,845 The Court Usher Preparing the courtroom for the day including laying out papers, providing drinking water, arranging
seating and checking the fire exit
noting the arrival and names of lawyers and whom they are representing
noting the arrival of witnesses and defendants, showing them where to go and explaining procedures
informing the court clerk that the hearing can begin
asking everyone to stand when the judge or magistrate comes into court
calling the defendant and witnesses into court Starting salary £13,000 The Prosecutors The Crown Prosecution Service Known as the CPS
Formed in 1985 to take the role of prosecution away from the Police
Works closely with the police It is responsible for public prosecutions of people charged with criminal offences in England and Wales.
The CPS is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (currently Keir Starmer QC) who answers to the Attorney General for England and Wales (currently Dominic Grieve, QC, MP).
The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for criminal cases beyond the investigation, which is the role of the police.
This involves giving advice to the police on charges to bring and being responsible for authorising all.
Preparing and presenting cases for court, both in magistrates' courts and the Crown Court. To prosecute or not to prosecute - that is the question There are 2 main tests set out in the code that determine whether the CPS will proceed against a subject Test 1 - The Evidential Test The prosecutor must decide if there is sufficient evidence to proceed.
Is there enough evidence to secure a conviction
If they feel that the court would not convict, they will not go ahead Test2 - The Public Interest Test The prosecutor must decide if moving the case to court is in the public interest.
Difficult to know this.
The prosecutor must decide if the public would benefit for a person being prosecuted for an offence. Lay People in the Crown Court The Jury Appears in the Crown Court (not magistrates) when a defendant pleads not guilty.
This enforces the idea that justice is by the people and not the state
The verdict is given by the jury not the judge (who is an employee of the state)
Juries do not have to justify their verdict How many are there on a jury? To be a member of a jury you must meet certain criteria:-
Aged between 18-70
registered on the electoral role
have lived in the UK for 5 years since the age of 13
There are a number of reasons why a person may not be eligible Trial by Jury
Look at the evidence to make a decision - judges advise on points of law
A judge cannot instruct a jury to convict
Juries make the decision - innocent or guilty- the judge sentences Look at your glossary to see the advantages and disadvantages of the jury system/ Lay Magistrates Also known as Justices of the Peace (JPs) like district judges
They are unpaid volunteers
They are trained to serve as representatives of their local community
They sit in panels of THREE
They have a trained legal advisor in court at all times - this is usually the clerk of the court.
Magistrates must commit to a minimum of 26 half days to fulfill their role even though they are volunteers How are Magistrates selected? Unpaid volunteers
Aged between 18 and 65
Male or female
Any ethnic background
Have 2 interviews :-
1 - to find out their background
2 - to look at case studies of criminal cases to test their judicial ability A big advantage of having lay magistrates is they are not in it for financial gain.
They serve the community and the criminal justice system Training of Lay Magistrates
Usually do NOT have a law degree - disadvantage??
Training is on-going as the law is often changing
Training usually carried out by the Clerk of the Court What are the functions of Lay Magistrates? Described as "the backbone of the criminal justice system"
97% of ALL criminal cases are dealt with by lay magistrates
Their main duty is to ensure the defendant receives a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time Points to note about lay magistrates
NO legal training so do NOT deal with complex or difficult cases.
Send more serious cases to the Crown Court Sentencing options of Lay Magistrates 1. Absolute Discharge - (let 'em off!)
2. Conditional Discharge - let off that they do not offend within 3 years or charged with BOTH offences
3. Community Service
4. Fines up to £5,000 (most common sentence)
5. Prison sentences (maximum 12 months) Other areas Lay Magistrates Deal with Youth Court
Family Court
Civil Court ( Council Tax demands; licensing requests;
Sit in Crown Court for appeals from magistrates Court Advantages and Disadvantages of Lay Magistrates Advantages Local Knowledge - Lay Magistrates come from the local area and therefore have local knowledge which will help them make fairer decisions in the court.

Lack of Bias - Having a bench of three Magistrates avoids bias and gives a balanced view.

Gender Balance - Lay Magistrates come from a wider cross section of society than professional judges. In particular there is greater gender balance with 49% of Lay Magistrates being female.

Saves Money - Lay Magistrates are only paid expenses saving the tax payer money.

Saves Time - Lay Magistrates act as a filter meaning only the most serious cases are heard in the Crown Court. Disadvantages Prosecution Bias - Conviction rates in the Magistrates' Court are much higher than the Crown Court as they tend to favour the Police.

Too Middle Class - The white, middle-aged, middle classes are over represented on the bench. Far too few working class people have the time to become Lay Magistrates.

Inconsistency - Sentences vary greatly between different Magistrates' Courts and even between different Lay Magistrates in the same court. There are also inconsistencies in the granting of bail.

Over Reliance on the Clerk - Lay Magistrates have little legal knowledge and rely too heavily on the Clerk of the Court.
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