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Viewing trials in the Magistrates' Court...

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    How do I go about it? I've seen people on here say you literally just walk in, but I've never even been inside the building before - where do I go, who should I ask where to go, what's the protocol for the public? Also, I'm 16 - will I even be allowed in on my own? And what can I have in my bag? And also anything else about it which you probably don't reckon is interesting or important but I'd be very grateful to know anything at all anyway... :o:

    I'd attend my local Crown Court but I'm not sure where it is; I'm going to have a look for it tomorrow, and if I find it, I'll go there instead. Are there any differences between the answers to my questions above if they're relating to the Crown Court, rather then Magistrates' Court?

    Thank you very much!
    M.
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    (Original post by ticktockharlequin)
    How do I go about it? I've seen people on here say you literally just walk in, but I've never even been inside the building before - where do I go, who should I ask where to go, what's the protocol for the public? Also, I'm 16 - will I even be allowed in on my own? And what can I have in my bag? And also anything else about it which you probably don't reckon is interesting or important but I'd be very grateful to know anything at all anyway... :o:

    I'd attend my local Crown Court but I'm not sure where it is; I'm going to have a look for it tomorrow, and if I find it, I'll go there instead. Are there any differences between the answers to my questions above if they're relating to the Crown Court, rather then Magistrates' Court?

    Thank you very much!
    M.
    OK:

    I'd phone up beforehand so you can find out if there's anything interesting on. Once you get there, ask anyone official-looking (the clerk's probably best) and they'll direct you to a court. Be prepared for metal detectors, so get your keys/anything else out of your pockets so you're not holding up the queue to get in!

    I'm not sure about the age for going on your own - I guess you'll be OK as long as they think you won't disrupt the proceedings. :p: You should sit in the public gallery (look for the part with lots of chairs!) - it's usually at the back and there may be a glass screen (although I've only seen those in Crown Courts).

    In terms of observing, make sure your phone is off, don't take anything that'll rustle, and you're not allowed to take notes. The Crown Court is generally more interesting if you can find it, but if not, the Magistrates' is OK. Also, whenever the magistrates enter/leave, stand up! If all else fails, follow what everyone else does.

    Have fun! :yep:

    EDIT: No, no major differences.
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    Stand up when everyone else does, and the Magistrate's is boooooring, go to the Crown and try and get something bloody :P
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    (Original post by ticktockharlequin)
    Thank you very much for your answer, I really appreciate it! How do you recommend I phrase the question? - I'm concerned about sounding very weird and ghoulish... not that they'd recognise my voice when I eventually turned up but I'm far too paranoid for my own good, I can't help it. :rolleyes:
    Well, I've only ever been with my dad and he's phoned, but say you're interested in Law and were wondering if you could come and sit in the public gallery. If there's an age restriction (I doubt it), they'll mention it. If they don't tell you what's on (sounds like reality TV, eg? :p:), ask if there are any interesting cases. That only really applies to the Crown Court since all of the stuff in the Magistrates' is minor, but I'm sure they won't bite.
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    What? Anyone can go in a court case just to look? Can you look at ALL cases, as in famous cases and things like Apple suing Nokia and shizzle lile that?

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    I went and sat in the public gallery at Exeter Crown Court and it was so interesting, although i had most things confiscated out of my bag on the way in such as: body spray, bottle etc.. i was told this was because if someone had a lighter on them i could make a fire bomb and through it at the defendant or throw the bottle tops at the defendant.
    But definately go to the Crown Court rather than the Magistrates as the cases are much more interesting and i heard that the best days to go on are Fridays as that's when a lot of the sentencings take place but i don't know how true that is.
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    You need to check its open gallery first (im pretty sure all magistrate trials are) Then metal detectors yadda yadda.
    You just need to keep quiet you can take anything in except cameras. B
    e prepared for the fact that the defendant might change their plea to guilty so there might not be any trial. Also be prepared to be hanging around alot, there may be alot of adjournments. Hope that helped
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    (Original post by kevin_123)
    What? Anyone can go in a court case just to look? Can you look at ALL cases, as in famous cases and things like Apple suing Nokia and shizzle lile that?

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    I'm not sure, but family cases are "in camera" (which actually means they're behind closed doors!). As for corporate/civil stuff, I don't think so. You can for criminal cases though...although there mat be some exceptions, like terrorism cases if there are issues of national security. :erm:
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    Go 2 crown court alot more juicy i saw some good cases when i went with my law class
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    (Original post by DaniLou17)
    Go 2 crown court alot more juicy i saw some good cases when i went with my law class
    This be true. Also, for civil cases/family cases you can ask to go and view, but the parties and the judge has to agree, so chances are you won't get to peek in on someone's divorce! Besides, most of them aren't that exciting since they just argue over stuff really.
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    Just ring and ask the clerk. In my experience they are really friendly and really accomodating: they think its awesome that young people are interested in seeing how it all works
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    (Original post by ticktockharlequin)
    I went to the Crown Court and ended up watching a murder trial. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life - the case so was highly publicised last year, and I found it hard to reconcile the man behind the glass with the man in all the papers, the witnesses whose names I recognised as people who'd provided quotes to tabloids. But thank you to everyone who offered advice: I'm grateful, and I'm very glad I went.
    What was happening? I don't mean the details of the case, but did you see witnesses giving evidence? When I went, all I saw was a dispute between neighbours that ended in fisticuffs, the two sides (I mean the lawyers here!) were deciding what should be admitted as evidence, and one guy - the "victim" - was giving evidence. :dry:
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    (Original post by ticktockharlequin)
    When I arrived, a friend of the victim was just beginning to testify for the prosecution. She was questioned, then another witness, but she just verified some times and dates relating to the victim's movements on the day she went missing; I came back after the jury adjourned for lunch, and saw another friend of the victim testify and be questioned. She was very much broken up about it still, kept crying, was talking about violence and attempted murders, the victim's parents walked out... The afternoon was so emotional it just made the whole situation seem even more unreal; as in, it was hard to believe this was life because it felt so much like a soap. It was the oddest time.
    ...

    I feel sorry for the jury.
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    (Original post by ticktockharlequin)
    The gallery was above the jury, so I kept forgetting they were there. Are they intentionally out of sight of the public?
    I don't think so - in the Crown Court near me, I was on the opposite side of the room to them behind a glass screen (so that the court was slightly more "private" ). I think it's just how they work with the space available - there have been cases of "jury nobbling" (people trying to influence the jury - I used the technical term because I like the word! :awesome:) where the guy behind it has been sitting in the public gallery, so I think you can't read too far into it.

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Updated: January 19, 2010
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