After a visit to the local magistrate’s court last week, I began to gain an understanding of exactly how the justice system works. I sat in on a case where a young man was facing an intent to supply drugs charge. The court gathered at 10 am and after a short discussion between the defendant and his lawyer, the trial began. Seated in the public gallery were members of the public along with the defendant’s family.
As the magistrate’s entered the room, the defendant’s lawyer asked for the case to be adjourned as a piece of evidence had been submitted that morning and they hadn’t had enough time to go through it all. The head magistrate agreed to start the court proceedings 20 minutes later, as he too believed to give a fair trial all evidence will need to have been gone through.
The court was dismissed and gathered again 20 minutes later to continue proceedings. The defendant’s legal adviser then asked for a further 40 minutes to go through the evidence as she has not managed to review all of it. After a brief discussion, the magistrates agreed to this and the case had been adjourned for the second time.
40 minutes later, the court had gathered for the third time. The magistrate’s bench approached the defendant’s lawyer and asked if she was ready for the case to proceed. The Lawyer again iterated that she had not had enough time to review all the evidence and stated that she believed it would be in the best interested of not only her defendant but also the case – to adjourn the case to a later date.
The prosecution was then asked if they had any objections to adjourning the case, which they did not. It was then up to the magistrates to determine whether adjourning the case would be of any benefit or detriment to the trial. The three magistrates went away and deliberated the decision and returned with the unanimous decision to adjourn the case.
From everything I witnessed at the court, I managed to gain a small understanding of how the UK’s court system works. All though I didn’t get to see exactly the system works when it comes to delivering justice, I have a rough idea of how it would go. I think the visit to the magistrate’s court was not only helpful in understanding how courts work but also helpful for reporting and understanding what you should and shouldn’t contain in your report and why.