Essay by uzma_tariqCollege, UndergraduateA, January 2013

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My investigations in court will explore the varying levels of communication and interaction between participants of the court. This will be split into two main topics. Firstly, I would like to examine the magistrates, their roles and interactions with various actors and reasons behind them. Secondly, I would like to examine the roles of lawyers and their interactions with other court participants -specifically between one another. Is there a sense of tension in the court? How serious are lawyers and what does this say about the CJS? The basis of my research has been collated from Stoke-on-Trent Magistrates court.


The roles of the Magistrates are essential within a Magistrates court, as they are the ultimate decision makers. They decide the most appropriate action to be taken. This could range from issuing warrants, granting bail /remand or issuing a committal/transfer to the Crown Court. The procedure in which the Magistrates Court works helps explain what interactions in court may be like�.

The magistrates follow an adversarial approach this means that the accuser is required to prove the case. In this, the magistrates' role is to listen to the evidence and make a decision from that evidence without asking questions other than to clear up ambiguities. In this instance it would be clear that Magistrate interaction would be kept to a minimal. This however could change if an Inquisitional approach is taken. At various stages of proceedings such as adjournments, mode of trial, bail and sentencing, the magistrates may adopt an inquisitorial approach where they are able to ask more questions and to probe more deeply into the matter before the court�. This could thus mean a great level of communication between defendants/lawyers and the magistrates. These circumstances do not occur often but it will be...