Here is the layout of a courtroom. A description of the job of each person can be found below.
Clerk of the Court
- Is the judge’s assistant.
- Says “all rise” when the judge enters the courtroom.
- Will ask the witness to take an oath or to declare that he or she promises to tell the truth.
- Calls witnesses by name to take the stand and asks them to give their full name for the court reporter to record it properly.
- Sits in front of the courtroom near the judge.
- Records everything that people say while the trial is going on.
- Acts as the defender of society, not as the witness’s lawyer.
- The accused is seen as someone who may have committed a crime against the values of society. Thus the Crown Prosecutor defends society’s values. (You will also hear the Crown Prosecutor called the Crown or the Prosecutor. These terms mean the same thing.)
- Does NOT represent the victim.
- Decides whether the case will proceed.
- Will not drop a case at the victim’s request.
- Is very busy and will probably not contact you unless you are a key witness and he or she needs to talk to you.
- Refers to the other lawyer as “my friend” as a sign of respect.
- Must be informed of any new evidence or information that you may have.
- Works for the person accused of breaking the law.
- May try to find out if a witness is confused or making things up.
- Asks the witness questions when the Crown Prosecutor has finished (referred to as cross-examination).
- May ask you the same questions in different ways.
- Listens to everyone’s story and fits the pieces together like a puzzle until he or she understands the whole picture.
- Decides whether the accused is innocent or guilty, when there is no jury.
- Is called “Your Honour”, “Your Lordship,” “My Lord,” or “My Lady”.
- Asks you to “stand down” (leave the witness box) when you have finished testifying and being cross-examined.
- Decides on the appropriate sentence when the accused is found guilty.
- Is composed of twelve adult Canadian citizens, men and women selected for jury duty.
- Acts as “finders of fact”.
- Makes a decision independently. Jury verdicts must be unanimous for the court to act. This means that all members of the jury have to agree on the decision.
- Maintains a safe environment in the courtroom.
- Wears a uniform that looks similar to a police officer’s uniform.
- A witness is called to give evidence in court in order to discover the truth. Giving honest answers is important.
- You have been called as a witness because you have valuable information about the case. Your contribution is important so that the courts can make a fair decision.
- A subpoena is a court order that requires a witness to attend.
- Witnesses are not expected to be experts in court process.
- They are expected to tell what they saw or know.