The Crown Courts jurisdiction is of ? indictable’ offences, so the most serious criminal offences are dealt by the Crown Court, offences are triable either way and it deals with appeals from the Magistrates Court as the defendant has an automatic right of appeal. There are around 90 Crown Courts in England and Wales and is divided into three tiers which contain High Court Judges, Circuit Judges, Recorders and Magistrates. In terms of hierarchy the Crown Court lies below the European Court of Justice, House of Lords and the Court of Appeal, the only court it is above is the Magistrates Court.
The court building itself is fairly modern having just opened in April of 1997, therefore it has suitable access for the disabled including toilets and waiting rooms. There was access to speak to someone regarding inquiries on the ground floor, signposts to direct people, a plentiful supply of leaflet handout points dotted around the building and a canteen located on the third floor providing various refreshments. The courtroom has a clear layout making it easy to pick out who is who in the courtroom, it’s a spacious size and voices could be heard all round the room due to the good acoustics.
One thing to point out is the armed guards inside and outside the building, this was probably due to the terrorism trial going on at the time. It was relatively easy to find the location of my desired courtroom to view the case, when there the visiting section to view the courtroom was reasonably comfortable though the only bad point to make is that I couldn’t quite see the whole of the courtroom in the position I was sitting which made it confusing when the judge was addressing the defendants as I couldn’t see who he was talking to but other than that everyone else involved with the case was in view.
Before I chose which courtroom to view I had a conversation with a woman downstairs near the reception and she helped me choose what case to view as I explained to her that I would like to view a trial from the beginning and her information was very helpful. The court was very welcoming and helpful and many people where there to assist me if I had any queries. In terms of openness the court seemed very open except for places where it was private for staff and people involved in the case, as it seemed I was able to view any trial going on even a very important one involving terrorism though I would have had to shown my British passport if I wanted to view it. Case: R v Liam R & Graeme Meade Location: Court 12 Time: 10. 30 am (Started 1 hour late 11.
30 am) In the Crown court the only proceedings that are heard are those of the criminal kind. In this case it was about a racially aggravated assault. This included the defendants who were two white males who were brothers who had assaulted the victim who was a black male.
Both parties where represented by female lawyers. The judge presiding was ? His Honour Judge Campbell’ who was a circuit judge, this could be seen with the colour of his robes which were multi-coloured black, lilac with a red sash and he seemed to be around the age of late 50’s. The judge was both friendly and polite to both parties and his demeanour towards both parties was acceptable as he was firm and strict with the way he communicated to the parties but was also being fair to both of them as the trial was heavily being contested over the attendance of a key witness.
This consisted of the defence’s view that the defendants had been waiting for many months for the trial to begin whilst on the other hand the prosecution argued that there witness was not present due to family issues and asked the judge for two days to find the witness. The judge had sympathy for the defendants but decided that another two days was not long to wait and let the trial be adjourned for two days as it would mean that both parties could argue the their cases fully making the trial fair. At that point of time in the trial there was no jury present as the case may be decided by the judge only.