Stereotypical Images And Old Brickwork Courts Law Essay

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Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was very much the stereotypical image of a court, complete with the old brickwork, the large courtrooms with lots of polished wood, and of course, the gowns and the wigs. In comparison, Manchester’s Civil Justice Centre was much more modern, consisting of lots of glass and lots of floors. Although in the civil court it was only possible to view small claims trials, in the crown court, it was possible to observe part of a trial with a jury (the defendant was accused of engaging in sexual acts with a minor) and a case of assault which ended with a plea-bargain. Here, both courts will be considered for their differences and similarities, to try and find out how accurate perceptions of the law are. Two observations stood out in the Crown Court; firstly, the number of staff involved both in and behind the scenes of the proceedings. Although in every case, there will be a judge, solicitors or barristers (in some cases both) and in certain circumstances a jury, the court room is a much busier place than first envisioned. For example, there will be the clerks of the court keeping the procedure running smoothly (e.g. escorting the jury in, swearing in witnesses) and there will be the security officer (who will escort the defendant in and out of the courtroom when required), as well as other staff members who keep the process going. Before the Judge is called, and the court is in session, there are constantly people walking in and out of the courtroom, usually counsel or other members of the court; sometimes a change of plea is issued at the last minute, and a scheduled trial by jury no longer takes place, or the court staff are confirming details of the case. Indeed, among the staff that don’t constitute as counsel or the judiciary, the upcoming case is often discussed, bringing everyone up to speed before the case is called into session. A court trial procedure isn’t simply the job of the lawyers and the judge as common perceptions might have one believe. Secondly, there is a lot more waiting around than anticipated. Trials and hearings do not always take place in one sitting, and they do not even have to be completed on the same day. As aforementioned, more often that not (and certainly more often than initially believed), a scheduled trial will no longer take place, usually due to a change in plea. The case surrounding assault initially was going ahead as a jury trial, but just before the case was due to be called into session, the defendant changed his plea to guilty, which meant a trial was no longer needed. Lord Devlin once described the jury as “the lamp that shows freedom lives” [1] . However, in reality, very few cases are tried by a jury. Only a small minority of cases are ever brought to trial, of which even fewer are actually tried before a jury,

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