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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Magistrates' Court

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We are the magistrates and we hear all the evidence in the case

and decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. It is for the

prosecution to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt

otherwise we will dismiss it. Traditionally there are three magistrates.

I'm the chair and will decide the case with my two colleagues.

If my two colleages can't agree, I will have the deciding vote.

Occasionally we may have to sit as a pair and then decide the case between us.

Although we've had some training, we are not legal professionals

and we are not paid.

Magistrates hear all summary offences within their jurisdiction. We can also hear

triable either way offences where the defendant has agreed that

this can be case. If we believe that a trial is too serious

we can refer the case up to the Crown Court. Even after we have heard a

case we can refer that case to the Crown Court if we believe that our

sentencing powers are not sufficient.

I'm the legal adviser to the justices although you make still hear me referred to

as the clerk of the court or the magistrates clerk

and I am legally trained. My job is to ensure that everything runs properly

and all the proper procedures are followed.

I'll ask a defendant to enter a plea and I will ask

witnesses to identify themselves.

I will advise the magistrates on legal matters and I will ensure that only admissible evidence

is put before the court. If a defendant is unrepresented,

I will advise them to ensure they get a fair trial.

I'm the Usher and I ensure that all witnesses have answered their summons.

I'll fetch witnesses in when they're called and administer the oath or affirmation.

When the witness is giving evidence I'll pass exhibits

around the court. I can even fetch a glass of water for

someone if they are thirsty. You'll hear me say

all rise.

I'm the prosecuting solicitor and I present the prosecution case.

There are three things that I must prove to the satisfaction of the court;

firstly that an offence has being committed,

secondly that the defendant has committed the offence, and lastly

that all the evidence has been gathered in accordance with the correct evidence

gathering procedures.

If I fail to do any of those things

then the defendant is entitled to an acquittal.

I will ask questions of prosecution witnesses to enable them to give evidence.

I cannot ask leading questions or suggest answers.

Obviously I can only present evidence that has been gathered fairly.

If there is a case to answer

and the defence call witnesses, then I can cross examine those witnesses.

Remember, that prosecutors are only as good as the evidence they are given.

I am the Defence Solicitor and it is my role to protect the interests of my client.

I can challenge evidence that has not been gathered fairly in accordance with

the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

and have that evidence excluded, if so required.

If you have been fair, thorough, exercised your powers correctly

and can account adequately for all your actions

then there should be little for me to challenge.

Remember, it's not for the defence to win the case,

but for the prosecution to lose it.

The Description of The Magistrates' Court