COURT REPORT INFORMATION SHEET:
All students are expected to attend a criminal court proceeding and to submit a report about their experience. This assessment item is due by 5pm Tuesday Week 8, so you need to make preparations to attend court as soon as possible.
Note: Students who do not complete the required court reports will be awarded a grade of ‘fail incomplete’. It is recommended that you begin looking for appropriate hearings early in the semester so that you are not hampered by unforeseen events (such as court holidays). Extensions will not be given to students who have left it late in the semester to attend court and are unable to find appropriate hearings.
You can attend the Magistrates’ Court (also called the Local Court in other jurisdictions); the District Court; the Supreme Court; the Court of Appeal; the Queensland Murri Court (or an Indigenous sentencing court in your jurisdiction); or a drug court. You need to make sure that you are attending a criminal court proceeding.
What kind of hearing?
You should aim to attend a committal, a trial (summary or full), or a sentence. It is possible that the proceeding you plan to attend changes after you arrive in the courtroom. For example, a matter which is set down as a trial might not proceed because the defendant decides to plead guilty. The matter might then proceed immediately to sentencing, but is often adjourned to a later date. If this happens while you are in court, you should decide if what you have already seen is sufficient for you to complete your report well. If you don’t have enough information, you should attend a different matter instead. It is useful to attend court on a day when there are several matters on the court list as this gives you more chances of finding an interesting matter to report on.
How do I find out what courts are close to me and what matters are listed from day to day?
If you are in Queensland, the Courts website publishes a daily law list for most Courts each evening. You can find this on the homepage at www.courts.qld.gov.au .
Alternatively, links to other Australian courts can be found at the bottom of the courts.qld.gov.au webpage. You can telephone the registry office to find out details of court hearings in your area – this is particularly useful if you live away from metropolitan areas.
Try to find a matter that is not already part-heard. You might find it difficult to understand what is happening if you attend the 4th week of a trial! The daily law lists usually give you this information.
If you have any problems in finding an appropriate matter please contact the Course Convenor. Make sure you attend a criminal matter and not a civil hearing.
How long do I have to spend in court?
You should set aside a day to attend court as you need to stay long enough to answer all the questions on the form completely. A sentence can take anywhere between 15 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the issues raised. A committal hearing, a summary trial, and some District Court or Supreme Court trials often only take a day to hear. Other trials can be very long – you do not need to attend court for weeks to see a trial through to its conclusion. Be guided by the form – if you think you have seen enough to answer the questions intelligently then you need not stay longer.
IMPORTANT - Court Etiquette
In attending court, decorum is required (particularly in the higher courts). Make sure you are neatly dressed with covered shoes (not thongs) and that you are on time.
Turn off mobile phones and don’t talk during proceedings. Sit as quietly as possible.
Whenever you leave or enter a courtroom and a hearing is in session you will need to bow to the Judge or Magistrate before leaving or entering. Do this at the door as soon as you enter, or before you leave.
There should be no reason for you to address the Judge or the Magistrate, but if this occurs you...
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