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
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
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.