Sica was charged with Section 33(1)(a)(b) of the Crimes Act 1900 with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm and also section 18 that defines murder as the 'act of the accused or thing by or her omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, or done in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission, by the accused, or some accomplice with him or her, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for life or for 25 years'.
There a number of issues that occurred in the court which includes courtroom was when the jury was absent and the Judge and the Defence lawyer was discussing the case on why the defence wasn't ready with the expert witness, especially since they had a lot of time to prepare themselves. From this discussion that the defence lawyer told Justice Applegarth that he took control over the case 4 weeks before the trial which in other words means that his clients defence was unprepared. The prosecution was however lenient on the defence in order for them to become more prepared.
I'm assuming the crown prosecution wanted more of a challenge from the defence, as the defence wasn't as good as what they could have been. The defence lawyer seemed confused at times at what he was saying, and even brought an expert witness from Melbourne only to be inadmissible in court. I did find it that this jury trial already had an atmosphere of the defendant already being 'guilty', which was completely undermining the fundamentals rules of due process (Chisholm & Nettheim, 2002).
In observing the R -v- Spina case there were many key participants that were Identified in the courtroom. The first key participant is the Judge who presided at the front of the room. The Judge's role in this particular case where the accused pleaded not guilty on the basis of provocation needed to ensure that a fair trial was given, keep order in the courtroom and ensure relevant evidence is given. Furthermore, the Judge also has a role to overlook proceedings and apply the law relevant to the trial (Findlay, Odgers & Yeo, 2009, p. 166).
In this courtroom, the bailiff was found to be on the right hand side of the room. The bailiff's role was to announce when the court was in session and when it ended, also he had a role to administer oath. During when court was in session the bailiff had a common role of calling up witnesses to give evidence and to lead jury members in and out of the courtroom (Department of Justice and Attorney- General, 2009). In front of the witness stand, facing the judge was a bar. On the right side of this bar there was a crown prosecutor and crown prosecutor's assistant.
The crown prosecutor represents the public and the crown who presents evidence against the accused to the court (Findlay, Oldgers & Yeo, 2009, p. 157). According to the Queensland Courts (2009) the prosecutors are usually the first to question witnesses and the first to submit the evidence against the accused. In this case, the crown prosecutor also needed to give evidence to the jury beyond reasonable doubt as to why the defendant is guilty. The crown prosecutor's assistant has a role to assist the crown prosecution with evidence (Queensland Courts, 2009, p1).
On the left side of the bar, is where the Defence lawyer and a defence lawyer assistant sit. Defence lawyers have a role to represent their client and provide directions for them. The Defence lawyers main role is to defend their client in the court by presenting the court evidence and documentation to support their case, in this case, however, the defence lawyer also needed to persuade the jury that their client is not guilty, and if the client pleads guilty, the defence lawyer then needs to provide reasons to the Judge why their client should get a lesser sentence.
The defence lawyer's assistant has a role to assist the lawyer. Behind the crown prosecutor and defence lawyers were two Queensland Corrective Service Officers that were found to be on both sides of the court, with the defendant sitting in-between them. The Queensland Corrective Services role is to escort the accused in and out of the courtroom to the accused dock. The reason as to why the corrective services sat on both sides of the accused is for security purposes (Queensland Courts, 2009, p. 1).
The Jury was situated on the right hand side of the courtroom. The Queensland Courts (2009) states that "juries are selected randomly through the electoral role". The jury's role is to observe the evidence with a clear conscience mind on whether the defendant is guilty or not without any outside interference. The Crimes Act 1900 (Qld) played a major part in respect to the procedural aspects of the proceedings that was observed. The prosecutor used this against Spina by attempting to prove each and every element from the charges he was charged with.
Once the prosecutor examined his expert witness and allowed the jury to take into what his argument on why the accused should be charged with murder not manslaughter . However during the trial, the defence lawyer wasn't sure if he's expert witness was able to attend court, and asked for a quick break to get on the phone to him as the expert witness was residing in Melbourne. After the break, the defence lawyer was then ready for his opening statement also advising the jury what evidence he will be issuing in the next couple of days. Once the opening statement was done, the first witness was then brought to the witness box.
The bailiff administered the oath to the witness, and then resumed his seat in the corner. The witness was questioned for about 40 minutes each from the crown prosecutor and the defendant about their relationship to the victim and the defendant, and was also asked about the victim's behaviour weeks prior her death. The court was then adjourned to the next day. 2. Describe the judge/magistrate in one of the cases you have observed. As we (the public) entered the court room, the Judge was already sitting down, so I bowed at the honour and took a seat in the public gallery.
From the first observation as I was sitting down and when the Judge entered the room, I could tell that he was of a mature age, possible late 50's-early 60's. The Judge then told his associate to read out the charge to the court and ask the defendant on how he pleaded. At this time the defendant pleaded not-guilty to murder on the basis of provocation. Once this was said, the Judge then stressed out to the jury that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty and also advised them on what is to be expected as a jury. After this process, the Judge, Justice Applegarth asked the crown prosecutor to provide an opening address.
The prosecutor opened his statement for the trial and informed the jury what kind of evidence he will be presenting in the upcoming days. The Judge then asked the defence lawyer if he was ready to give his opening statement. I found it quite easy to understand what was happening in the court room thanks to the Judge who was telling the jury how the court was going to handle the case in simple terms. When it came to the Judge using legal terms, it is said that this type of language is a key factor in creating court room confusion (Findlay, et al, 2009). However, this wasn't so much of an issue due to the Judge clarifying what he meant in simple terms to the court.
Chilholm, R. & Nettheim, G. (2002). Due Process of Law, Understanding law: An introduction to Australia's legal system, (pp. 115-125), (6th ed. ) Sydney: Butterworths Crimes Act 1900 (Qld) Department of Justice and Attorney-General. (2009). Inside the Supreme and District Courtroom. Retrieved April 04, 2011 from Queensland Government Online Database Findlay, M. , Odges, S. , Yeo, S. (2009). Australian Criminal Justice (4th ed). Victoria: Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand.