Experience In Court: Court Observation Report

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This court observation report constitutes an area that exists within the judicial systems of states especially crucial to its citizens. That is to say, a court is where an individual goes if they violate the law. More specifically, it is an entity formed by the government through constitutional provisions and the enactment of statutes to enforce the law primarily for the public good. The term “court” can be defined as ‘a judicial tribunal established to administer justice’ Moreover, the core function of a court is to regulate human conduct and adjudicate legal disputes that arise among individuals legally termed as parties through the administration of justice in accordance with the rule of law. While, the role of a court is to rule and settle disputes in the form of cases that are brought before them. Therefore, outlined further in this report will be my observation as a member of public during my visitation to court.

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I visited the High Court situated in Victoria Parade, Suva at approximately 11:15am on March, 13th of 2020. As for the court hearing I attended, court number six in Magistrates’ Court was of choice. The parties involved were: “The State” which was represented by State Counsel and the “Accused” known as Josaia Matai who was represented by a solicitor in the Legal Aid Commission. Representatives of both parties are unidentified due to the circumstances at the time which has been addressed further in this report. Upon the judges’ arrival, a procedural formality followed which was that everyone stands while the judge makes his entrance. However, this occurred when he entered and left the courtroom. It was learnt that when entering or leaving the courtroom while the Judge is present, one must bow his or her head before proceeding to their seat.

The court hearing I attended was a criminal proceeding and can be identified by its case number which is CF395620. The case involved a sentence hearing in which the accused by the name of Josaia Matai was found guilty for unlawful possession of illicit drugs. Unfortunately, it was difficult to hear the dialogue that went on between the parties and Judge from the public gallery and especially since they spoke in a low and quick manner. However, when the fact of the offence made by the accused was read out, I was able to identify that the case hearing was a criminal proceeding. In addition to, because criminal cases involve an action deemed harmful to society as a whole and in this case, the accused was found in possession of drugs deemed unlawful, this also meant that the wellbeing of individuals in the society could be in jeopardy through his unlawful drug possession. Therefore, this was an act of offence made against the state or jurisdiction of the prosecution which led to my conclusion that this was indeed, a criminal proceeding.

Notably, the impressions I was given during my visitation to court will be discussed now. It was perceived that the lawyers whom were present in the court hearing I attended were professional to some extent. This was seen in two ways: the first way being their dress code as the male lawyers wore stiff collars, single colored ties, plain black blazers and a white plain shirt along all in which produced a neat look. The second way being their conduct in court as the lawyers were seen in erect posture all throughout the hearing with their brief cases and sheets prepared in front of them. They displayed graciousness and etiquette through their response when addressed in court, addressing the Judge and presenting their cases. Overall, the dress code and conduct demonstrated by the lawyers encapsulated professionalism. However, there is area for improvement as lawyers are advised to speak slowly, with diction and loud enough to be heard. As for the Judge, I thought his code of conduct within court was professional which was perceived through his preparedness, command and leadership.

In conclusion, I believe the process was fair with the decision made that the accused was found guilty and therefore, sentenced for unlawful possession of illicit drugs because for an offence made, a legal punishment must follow. And the significance of legal punishment is as follows: To protect individuals within the society, prevent further drug - related crimes committed by the offender, ensure that the offender understands that laws are to be obeyed and to make amends for his wrong actions. Conversely, I cannot entirely agree to the decision made because I was unable to hear the details of the offenders’ sentence and all the facts of the offence thus, was left with an undetermined verdict of whether or not the case was fair.  

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