MINITRIAL PAPERS

courtfiles


OVERVIEW

This sequence of events indicates the process of a court trial.
Use the menu below to navigate through the process.

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THE SEQUENCE

1.  The Court convenes /assembles – the Sheriff is brought on to the bench

2.  The Clerk “calls the diet” – formally starts the case against the accused

3.  The Accused’s plea is tendered by his defence lawyer – “Not guilty” in this particular case

4.  The Clerk ballots the Jury – chosen from those cited for jury service

5.  The Clerk reads the indictment (charge) to the jurors

6.  The Clerk administers the oath to the jury

7.  The Sheriff outlines the procedure

8.  The witnesses give evidence

9.  The Sheriff puts the witnesses on “oath” to tell the truth

10.  The Crown Case is presented as follows:

     Witness 1 for the Crown – “examination-in-chief” by the Crown

     Witness 1 – “cross examination” by the defence

     Witness 2 for the Crown – examination in chief by the Crown.

     Witness 2 – cross-examination by the defence

11.  The Defence Case is presented as follows:

     The accused – “examination-in-chief” by the Defence

     The accused – “cross examination” by the Crown

     Witness 2 for the Defence – examination in chief by the Defence.

     Witness 2 – cross-examination by the Crown.

12.  The Crown Speech to the Jury – seeking conviction

13.  The Defence Speech to the Jury – seeking acquittal

14.  The Sheriff’s Charge to the Jury – giving them directions in law

15.  The Jury retire – to consider their verdict

16.  The Verdict.

17.  Plea in Mitigation and Sentence

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THE INDICTMENT

The indictment is in the followings terms: –

HER MAJESTY’S ADVOCATE  v.  JOHN (or JANE) WADE

JOHN WADE, 12 Spencer Avenue, you are indicted at the Instance of Her Majesty’s Advocate and the charge against you is that:

On 2nd June in The South Inch, Perth, while acting with another, you did assault Derek Saddler strike him on the arm with a knife or similar instrument, punch him on the head and knock him to the ground all to his severe injury.

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CROWN WITNESS No1

Derek (or Diane) Saddler, aged 26, residing at 11 McKay Avenue, sales assistant

On Sunday 2nd June I was walking home through The South Inch – my local park – when I was confronted by two youths. It must have been about 3.00 pm. I can’t remember what they were wearing but I saw their faces very clearly.

One of the youths was carrying a kitchen knife with a blade about 5 inches long which he was waving in front of him.

The other youth wasn’t carrying anything – but he was saying in a low voice “Go on – slash him”.

The first guy lunged towards my face with the knife but I managed to deflect the blow with my left arm. I screamed in pain as the knife cut deep into my forearm.

Then the second guy shouted “You’ve only cut his arm” – and then he (the second guy) hit me hard across the face with a backhand blow from his fist. I was knocked to the ground with the force of the blow.

I saw someone (who I now know was a plain-clothes police officer) chase after the youths and I saw the officer detain one of them a few hundred yards away.

I was taken to Perth Royal Infirmary where I received 24 stitches to my left arm and treatment for a broken nose. My face was black and blue.

I can identify the second youth – the one without the knife. He was the one who punched me.

He is sitting over there (points to John Wade). I will never forget his face.

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CROWN WITNESS No2

Gillian (or Graham) McKay, Detective Sergeant with Local Police aged 31 – with 12 years police service

On Sunday 2nd June I was on plain clothes duty in a local park – The South Inch – on the look out for drug dealers.

At 3.05 pm my attention was drawn to two youths who were about 30 yards away. They were both wearing purple hooded tops, blue denims and yellow trainers.

One of the youths was carrying a kitchen knife with a blade about 6 inches long. He was brandishing it in front of him at about shoulder level. I could see the knife clearly even from a distance.

The other youth wasn’t carrying anything – but he seemed to be pushing the first youth towards a member of the public who I now know to be Mr Derek Saddler.

Without any provocation, the first youth lunged forward and tried to slash Mr Saddler on the face. Mr Saddler managed to defend himself with his arm. The second youth shouted something and then struck Mr Saddler in the face with his fist. It was a heavy blow which knocked him to the path.

By this time I had shouted to them to stop – and I was running over to the scene to help Mr Saddler. I chased and caught one of the youths – who I kept in my sight the whole time – but the other one got away.

I later attended Perth Royal Infirmary where I saw that Mr Saddler had received a large number of stitches to a nasty wound on his left arm. I also saw that his nose had been broken by the attack. He was badly bruised too.

I can identify the youth I detained. He is sitting over there (points to John Wade). In reply to caution and charge the accused John Wade said “You’ve got the wrong guy.”

There is no doubt that John Wade was one of the two youths that attacked Mr Saddler. He was not carrying a knife or indeed anything else when I caught and searched him. He never said anything to me about bird-watching.

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DEFENCE WITNESS N01 (THE ACCUSED)

John (or Jane) Wade, aged 17, residing at 12 Spencer Avenue, student.

On Sunday 2nd June I was in the local park, The South Inch, when two guys ran past me.

One of them was trying to stuff a kitchen knife into his back pocket.

A couple of seconds later I was knocked to the ground by a plain clothes police officer.

The officer cautioned and charged me with an assault.

I told her that she must have the wrong guy.

I never assaulted anyone.

I was only in the park because I am a very keen bird-watcher.

There is a very rare bird called a “tree-creeper” in the park and I was hoping to catch sight of it.

My friend Leslie Weir was with me.

The two guys who ran past me – were wearing exactly the same as me. Purple hooded tops, denims and yellow trainers.

I did not assault Mr Saddler – and I have never carried a knife.

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DEFENCE WITNESS N02

Leslie (or Lesley) Weir aged 18 – residing at 10 Robert Road, student.

On the afternoon of 2nd June I was in The South Inch – a local park.

I was with my friend – the accused John Wade

We were bird-watching.

I heard a commotion – and then two guys ran passed us.

One of the guys had a knife in his hand.

The two guys were wearing the same as John and me – purple hooded tops, denims and yellow trainers.

I ran off after them.

I looked back and could see that a person I now know to be a plain clothes policeman had arrested John.

The police got the wrong guy.

John did not assault anyone.

He would never do that sort of thing.

John has never ever carried a knife.

We were heading for the pond – to do a spot of bird watching.

That’s all.

Honest.

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THE CROWN SPEECH TO JURY

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury

I now have the opportunity to address you on behalf of the Crown.

It is my function to present the evidence – but it is your function to decide whether on the evidence the Crown have proved the accused “Guilty” beyond reasonable doubt.

You may have little difficulty in deciding that someone assaulted Mr Saddler in the way described in the indictment but “Who was involved in the assault?”

The Crown say there is no reasonable doubt that the accused John (or Jane) Wade was responsible.

On the evidence, the factors pointing to John Wade’s guilt are as follows: –

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

In short, the Crown say that John Wade’s guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt and that you should convict.

I invite you to return a verdict of “guilty”.

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THE DEFENCE SPEECH TO JURY

I now have the opportunity to address you on behalf of the accused – John (or Jane) Wade. It is important to remember that in Scotland every accused person is presumed to be innocent.

It is up to the Crown to prove an accused person guilty – and to prove his guilt “beyond reasonable doubt”. That is a high standard.

If there is any reasonable doubt about Mr Wade’s guilt, then you must acquit.

In this case, the Crown has simply failed to prove that Mr Wade was involved in any assault – far less that he was responsible for using a knife.

The factors which show there is a reasonable doubt are as follows: –

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

In short, on the evidence, guilt has not been proved. There is a reasonable doubt – and Mr Wade is entitled to the benefit of that doubt. Mr Wade should be acquitted – and I invite you to return a verdict of “not guilty”.

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THE SHERIFF’S CHARGE

LADIES and GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY, it is now my duty to give you directions as to the law in this case.

You and I have DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS.

It’s MY FUNCTION to deal with questions of law and you must accept and apply my directions on THE LAW.

But YOU are the judges of THE FACTS.

It’s YOUR FUNCTION to assess the evidence. It’s for you to decide: – what evidence you believe and what you disbelieve; what evidence you find reliable and what unreliable. Please consider the evidence with care. It is your recollection and your assessment of the evidence that counts – and not mine.

There are THREE VERY IMPORTANT LEGAL PRINCIPLES which I wish to draw to your attention at the outset.

  1. THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE. Every person is presumed innocent and he remains innocent unless and until the Crown satisfies you that he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. It is up to the Crown to prove the guilt of the accused. If they fail to do so, then the accused must be acquitted.
  2. THE STANDARD OF PROOF – is GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. A reasonable doubt is something that would cause you to hesitate or pause before taking an important decision in the practical conduct of your own life. If there is any doubt about an accused’s guilt and it is a reasonable doubt, not a fanciful or hypothetical one, then you must acquit.
  3. The Crown must prove guilt by what is called CORROBORATED EVIDENCE. That means by evidence from more than one source. It is not every detail that requires to be corroborated. It’s the essentials of the case, such as the commission of the crime and involvement of the accused. Corroboration need not come from two eyewitnesses – circumstantial evidence can be enough.

Remember that the burden is on the Crown throughout. An ACCUSED is in a completely different position. AN ACCUSED never needs to prove anything at all. An accused never requires to give evidence and evidence in defence never needs to be corroborated. If the accused’s guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt you should convict. But if on ALL the evidence there is any reasonable doubt then you must acquit.

The evidence is very fresh in you minds – and I propose to say nothing further about it.

However, I would like to say a few words about the LAW.

An “assault” in law is any deliberate attack on another person with evil intent. Evil intention is essential.

In this case the charge contains an aggravation – “to severe injury”. Whether the Crown has proved those words is a question of fact for you to decide. It is open to you to return a verdict under deletion of the words which have not been proved to your satisfaction.

I must also give you directions in relation to the legal principle known as “concert” or “art and part guilt”. As a general rule a person is only responsible for his own actings. However, where two or more persons are engaged together in a known common criminal purpose, then each participant in that enterprise is responsible not only for what he himself does but for what everyone else does in pursuance of the common criminal purpose.

The use of a weapon calls for special consideration. Where a weapon is used, an unarmed attacker may be held responsible if he knew his companion was armed and was likely to use the weapon. So if an accused person, having seen his companion with a weapon in the course of an attack, joins in and continues the attack then as a matter of law he is guilty along with the companion of assault with the weapon.

The question for you is whether the prosecutor has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused John (or Jane) Wade assaulted Derek Saddler as set out in the indictment.

In assessing the evidence you should consider carefully all of the points made by the prosecution and by the defence. Having done that you should come to a verdict according to the principles which I explained at the outset.

THERE ARE THREE VERDICTS OPEN TO YOU

  1. Guilty or
  2. Not Guilty or
  3. Not Proven

The last two (“not guilty” and “not proven”) are both verdicts of acquittal.

Your verdict can be unanimous or by majority.

Before you can find an accused guilty there must be at least EIGHT of you in favour of guilty verdict.

When you have reached a verdict please tell the Clerk of Court.

Please also appoint a spokesperson to speak for you when you return to give your verdict.

WOULD YOU NOW PLEASE RETIRE AND CONSIDER YOUR VERDICT.

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THE VERDICT

That’s a question for the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury

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