Participants in a Courthouse

Introduction

The courthouse has various participants who include the defendant, plaintiff, jury, judge, defense team, prosecutor, court officer and the public. All these players have different roles in the courtroom. The judge serves from a raised platform and is tasked with maintaining order in the courthouse. The judge makes decisions whether the evidence presented in the court is appropriate or not (Weinstein, 2008). The judge also explains the law related to the case to the jury before the start of the deliberations. In bench trials, the judge considers the evidence presented in the court and decides the case.

Jury and Plaintiff

The jury’s role is to decide whether the defendant in the case is guilty of the offence or not. Its decision is based on the evidence presented in the court and the directions given by the judge. Jurors make records of the court proceedings and request the judge to explain certain aspects of the law that are not clear. The jury is presented with issues that they have to consider before making their decision, and once they make their verdict, it is read out to the court. The plaintiff is the person who starts the lawsuit through the filing of a complaint in court (Clermont and Schwab, 2009). A case can have multiple plaintiffs, and when the number of the plaintiffs is large, single individuals stand in for the others. Plaintiffs start a lawsuit because they feel they have been wronged and want the court to look at the available evidence and hopefully make a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

Defendant and Prosecutor

A defendant is a person or company which the lawsuit is filed against by the plaintiff. Defendants have the constitutional right of being in the courthouse during their trials. The defendant has the role of appearing in court and presenting all the records that can defend their case. The prosecutor investigates crime and evaluates the evidence given by the plaintiff. In minor crimes such as liquor violations, prosecutors who are also known as state attorneys and can impose fines on people found guilty of the crimes (Starr and Rehavi, 2013). In the courthouse, the prosecutor proves that the suspect has committed a crime by questioning the suspect and the witnesses.

Barristers and Bench Clerk

Barristers act as advocates during legal hearings and plead on behalf of their clients during cases. They are individuals who have great knowledge about the law and are used to provide legal advice. They are provided with the evidence before the court hearings so that they can review it and prepare on what to present in the court. Most of the hearings are open to the public. The public only act as observers and listeners in the courthouse. The bench clerk sits near the magistrate in the court. The clerk’s duty is to call people into the court and directs people on the places they should stand in the courtroom. They also administer oaths to the witnesses in the cases and are mandated to read out charges in criminal proceedings.

Witnesses and Court Reporters

Witnesses are also participants in the courthouse, and their duty is to testify about the facts involved in the case that has been presented in the court. Lawyers are also present in courthouses. Their role is to raise issues relating to the case in a way that favors the party they are representing, but as they do it, they have to consider the legal procedures involved. Court reporters’ role is to record what the witnesses and other participants say in the court (Ponte, 2002). They do this using a stenographic machine which they type on, or make an electronic sound record.

References

Clermont, K. M., & Schwab, S. J. (2009). Employment discrimination plaintiffs in federal court: From bad to worse. Harv. L. & Pol’y Rev., 3, 103.

Ponte, L. M. (2002). Michigan cyber court: a bold experiment in the development of the first public virtual courthouse. NCJL & Tech., 4, 51.

Starr, S. B., & Rehavi, M. M. (2013). Mandatory sentencing and racial disparity: Assessing the role of prosecutors and the effects of Booker. Yale LJ, 123, 2.

Weinstein, J. B. (2008). The Role of Judges in a Government of, by and for the People: Notes for the Fifty-Eighth Cardozo Lecture. Cardozo L. Rev., 30, 1.

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