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English Legal System Trial on Indictment in the Crown Court Aims • The aims are this lecture are to: 1. Look at the history of the Crown Court and the allocation of business to the Court for trial on indictment; 2. Consider which judges try which cases in the Crown Court and how they are allocated; 3. Revise rights of audience in the Crown Court; 4. Consider what an indictment is and the rules relating to the drafting of indictments; 5. Examine the procedure for managing cases in the Crown Court 6. Examine stages of a trial in the Crown Court. Learning outcomes • By the end of this lecture you should be able to: 1. Outline the history of the Crown Court and the allocation of business to different judges within the Court; 2. State who has rights of audience in the Crown Court; 3. Describe the purpose and rules relating to the drafting of indictments in the Crown Court; 4. Outline the main steps in the procedure of managing cases in the Crown Court; 5. Describe the conduct of a trial on indictment. History of the Crown Court • Created by the Courts Act 1971 to replace the ancient courts of assize and quarter sessions • It is part of the Supreme Court of England and Wales by virtue of the Supreme Court Act 1981 Jurisdiction of the Crown Court • Trial on Indictment – exclusive jurisdiction • Committals for sentence • Appeals from the Magistrates against conviction or sentence • Miscellaneous civil matters (e.g. licensing appeals and care orders from the youth courts) Who sits in the Crown Court? • High Court or Red Judges • Circuit Judges • Recorders • Deputy Circuit Judges How is the work divided between the judges? • Offences are categorized according to class 1. Treason and Murder – High Ct Judge 2. Manslaughter and Rape – High Court J 3. Indictable offences other than above – Circuit J 4. Triable either way – Circuit J/Recorder Rights of Audience in the Crown Court • Barristers • Solicitors who have undertaken Law Society training and been granted ‘higher rights’ • Litigants in Person The Indictment • Like the information it forms the basis of the charge that will be read to the Defendant at the start of the trial • Unlike an information it is subject to detailed rules contained in the Indictments Act 1915 and the Indictment Rules 1971 Indictments in Detail • The indictment is divided into counts • There is the rule against duplicity • Joinder of Counts • Joinder of Defendants Preparing for trial in the Crown Court • Reforms have been introduced in recent years with the aim of making the preparation for trial in the Crown Court more efficient • There are three main kinds of hearings: • Plea and Directions Hearings • Pre-trial Hearings • Preparatory Hearings Plea and Directions Hearings • Introduced by a Practice Direction in 1995 • Defence must supply a full list of prosecution witnesses they require to attend at trial • Both sides should present a summary of the issues on which directions are sought Other Types of Pre-trial Hearings in the Crown Ct • Pre-trial rulings – formal rulings that are not irreversible but cannot automatically be re-considered • Preparatory Hearings – these are for long and complex trials Arraignment • This is the process of putting the counts in the indictment to the accused one by one asking him whether he pleads guilty or not guilty • Plea of not guilty puts the entire Prosecution case in issue • If a Plea of Not Guilty the next step is normally to empanel a jury • However, should be aware that the prosecution may not wish to proceed if the accused has pleaded guilty to some counts but not others • The Defendant should make his plea of guilty personally, counsel should not do so on his behalf • Williams  QB 373 Refusal and Incapacity to Plead • Muteness – malice/by visitation of God • Unfit to plead – where D’s intellect is defective, so that he cannot comprehend the course of the proceedings so as to make a proper defence Autrefois Acquit or Autrefois Convict • Should not be tried twice for the same offence • Also known as the rule against ‘double jeopardy’ Empanelling a Jury • Eligibility for service • Difference between a jury panel and the jury • Challenges – abolition of the peremptory challenge by the Defence The Prosecution • The Duty of the Prosecutor – not the Prosecutor’s role to secure a conviction at all costs • The Opening speech – giving the jurors an overall view of the case The Prosecution Witnesses • The Prosecution should call all the witnesses whose statements were tendered at Committal Proceedings • The Prosecution have a duty to take all reasonable steps to secure the attendance of witnesses Defence objections to Prosecution Evidence • Not dealing with the rules of evidence in these lectures, but a lot of procedure at the Crown Court turns on the admissibility of evidence • Fundamental principle that in the Crown Court the Judge decides these questions • The D should give prior warning to the Prosecution Submission of No Case to Answer • P ends his case by saying ‘so that is the case for the Prosecution’ • Then counsel for D may make a submission of no case to answer • The Judge can raise the matter as well The Defence Case • The Defence have the right to an opening speech where they intend to call another witness to testify to the facts of the case other than the accused • Good Character Witnesses do not count for these purposes (Criminal Evidence Act 1898, s.2) The Defence Evidence D is competent, but not compellable (s.1 of Criminal Evidence Act 1898) D can choose whether to give evidence D should normally be called first if there are other witnesses D should testify from the witness box The decision to testify must be taken by D Bar Code of Conduct Closing Speeches • After the Defence Evidence the Prosecution may sum up his case to the Jury • The Defence then have the right to the last word – must not make things up, although can suggest that there is an innocent explanation based on the evidence The Judge Sums Up • Major Difference from Summary Trial • Matters for the Judge to deal with in his summing up: 1. His and the Jury’s Role; 2. That it is for the Prosecution to prove its case; 3. The Judge defines the offence charged; 4. Where two Ds in one indictment, the Judge must tell the jury to consider them separately; 5. Finally the Judge must deal with the evidence in the case. The Verdict • The Jury retires to consider their verdict • The jury can ask the judge for further explanations relating to the law • No evidence shall be adduced before the jury after they have begun to consider their verdict Majority Verdicts • Until 1967 the verdict of a jury had to be unanimous • Juries Act 1974 is the present legislation governing this area • Provides for majorities of 11 to 1 or 10 to 2 • Judge directs them to try and reach a unanimous verdict Summary of lecture • You should now be able to: 1. Describe the jurisdiction of the Crown Court and how judges are allocated to different cases; 2. Explain what is meant by an indictment and the basic rules in drafting such a document; 3. Describe the procedure for managing cases in the Crown Court; 4. Outline the stages in a trial on indictment.
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