Court Visit Report
My first court visit was a civil appeal case under the hierarchy of appellant jurisdiction at the Intermediate court and my second visit was a criminal case under the original of criminal jurisdiction at the district court. Both courts are found in Port Louis, Mauritius. The difference between the two courts is that the appellant jurisdiction was already heard in a lower court whereas the criminal jurisdiction was heard for the first time in the lower court.
The atmosphere and the surrounding of the courts were nearly the same as both had magistrate seat and desk, advocate seat and desk, benches, microphones, speakers, air conditioning system, witness box, bright lighting system and smoke detector. The differences between the courts were that in the intermediate court there was a computer and in the district court there was an accused box.
In the court of appeal, the magistrate; in a black gown behind his desk on the podium, was facing the people. There was a court usher in a suit who was passing documents and evidences to the magistrate and a formally dressed person in front the computer who was recording the proceedings. Both lawyers in black gowns sat on the first bench. Just behind their lawyers, formally dressed, sat both claimant and defendant. Both the court of appeal and the district court function in nearly the same way. The only difference is that in the latter the accused had no lawyer to represent him and hence he sat with the audience.
A quite friendly atmosphere prevailed in both courts. Their ushers gave me the cases’ histories, details and facts. In the court of appeal, the lawyers were exchanging words with their client and I even got the opportunity to interview the claimant, the defendant and even the lawyers. In the district court I interviewed the accused who was sitting next to me and was rather stressed. In each court, when the magistrate came, the people stood up to show respect and remained silent.
In the court of