Local Court Case Study

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Introduction

Whilst observing criminal proceeding in the local, district and supreme courts, the intricate workings of the legal system within Australia became extremely apparent. It became clear during my time in court that the administration, process and practices of each court varied extremely depending on which level you were observing at the time. Similarly during such time spent in court, the distinctions between both summary proceeding and trail upon indictment became clear and could be seen to somewhat mirror McBarnet’s theory of the ‘two tiers of justice’. Within this theory McBarnet argues that, the higher courts are seen as an “arena where the ideology of justice is put on display”. Where as the local courts on the other hand,
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Such as a result this downward classification has led to a flooding of the local courts with 104,982 cases dealt with in the local courts as apposed to the higher courts, which handled 3,975 in 2013. This downward shift towards the local court system has led to the significant expansion of powers of the magistrate but also a reduction in the once indictable offence penalties. O’Malley blames this revaluation of the legal processes on the grounds economic efficiency and time restrictions. This constant pressure on the local court system was extremely apparent during my observations with a significant number of cases being scheduled to begin at 9.30 am and in the same courtroom. Mack and Anleu who also noted this conveyer belt like operations of the local court, found that often cases put before a magistrate only lasted for between 15 seconds to 15 minutes. I also noted this phenomenon with my first case in the local court only lasting for a mere matter of seconds, so quick that I managed to miss everything that was said. This notion only adds weight to McBarnet’s theory, with the lower courts focusing on expedience rather than due …show more content…
More concerned with expedience, the local courts displays a complete disregard to irrelevant procedures in order to come to a quick reaching judgment. This is in stark contrast to higher courts, which focus on reliability rather than efficiency, upholding strict adversarial procedures. The juxtaposition between the two courts can be highlighted by my experience observing R v Daniel Kelsaw and R v Khalifa Azrag . During both cases I witnessed the defendants give their evidence, however, there was a distinct difference between the two. In the case of R v Daniel Kelsaw, Mr Kelsaw was on the stand for hours giving his version of accounts and was subjected to a relentless cross examination, whereas, Mr Azrag was up on stand for all of 10 minutes. Whilst the cases are of differing significance it still begs the question as to why there is such a large gap between the relentless cross examination subjected to Mr Kelsaw and the meek cross examination of Mr Azrag for his assault charge. Similarly, it is also interesting to note the positioning of the defendant within the court itself. Whilst in the higher courts the defendants can be observed sitting in a dock, however in the local courts, the defendants can often be found sitting with the rest of the public. This begs the question of the notion of triviality within the

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