2.What kind of hearing did you attend?(e.g. sentence, summary trial, committal hearing, jury trial, mention, call-over etc.) I attended an appeal against sentence. This is when the accused feels the sentence they were given is too severe, in which case a request is put forth to a higher court for the review and rehearing of evidence to change the decision of a lower court. The Crown is also able to file for an appeal if they believe the sentence given is inadequate of the crime committed. This process can only be done once a guilty plea or verdict is reached. (Findlay, Odgers& Yeo, 2009, p. 315)
3. What were the charges against the defendant? Were these summary or indictable offences? How did you know this? The charges against the accused were one count Reckless Grievous Bodily Harm. Section 35(2) of the NSW Crimes Act 1900 describes Reckless Grievous Bodily Harm as “A person who: a) Causes grievous bodily harm to any person, and
b) Is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that or any other person, Is guilty of an offence.”
This is a Table 1 indictable offence (The Criminal Procedure Act 1986); which means it can be dealt with summarily before a magistrate in the Local Court (unless the defence or prosecution elects otherwise). This also means that the maximum penalty which can be imposed is 2 years imprisonment.
4.Who was present in the courtroom? Identify the positions of all the people present and give a brief description of their role and what you observed them do in the courtroom during your visit. The participants in the courtroom were; the judge, the defence, the crown prosecutor, the court reporter, the judge’s associate, the court officer, the offender and the offender’s family.
The Judge, who is addressed as Your Honour, was seated at the highest bench in the middle of the courtroom. Their role in this court is to review questions of law with the power to override the underlying facts of the case and the conclusions of a judge or jury. “The appellate courts will interfere with the sentence only if there is an error… [may be] specific or expressly contained in the sentencing decision, or it may be a non-specific error.” (Findlay, Odgers& Yeo, 2009, p. 317)
The defence barrister has a duty to represent his or her client’s interest to the full extent of the law.In an appeal against sentence the defence must argue that the original decision involved error in the exercising of discretion, such as the judge not considering an issue, or taking into account a matter they shouldn’t have.
The Crown prosecutor is an officer of the court who has a duty to act in an ethical manner. Their role is to present evidence and argument to the court in support of the prosecution case both at the first court hearing and on appeal. (State of New South Wales, Department of Education and Communities and Charles Sturt University, 2011). The court reporter sat in a small booth on the top right side of the room. Their primary role is to maintain a transcript of all oral proceedings in the courtroom.
The judge’s associate sits at the associate’s bench in front of the judge. Here they are able to assist the judge by preparing documentation of the court proceedings, handing up any necessary documents and exhibits and reading out the charges and indictments of the accused.
The court officer is responsible for escorting the judge to and from the courtroom. Their main purpose is to assist in the effective operation of courts by performing a variety of tasks such as; maintaining orderly conduct of court and hearing rooms, liaising with the judiciary, police department and legal profession, and announcing the beginning and end of court sessions. (Commonwealth of Australia 2011)
The offender was seated in the dock and did not have an active role in this courtroom....