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Thread: Wizarding Court

  1. #11
    The Canon Queen Hufflepuff
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron x Hermione
    So the family member is not allowed to sit in the trial at all if a witness until they've given their statement. What about if the lawyer knows that the person is going to be called upon as a witness first? Can that witness, a family member, be inside the courtroom from the trial's start, because no other witness will be testify before them and taint their own evidence against the accused? They would only hear the opening statement. Is that viable and believable?
    As far as I know, if you are to be a witness, regardless of whether or not you are a family member, you are not allowed in the courtroom for any of the trial. I don't believe they can even be in there for the opening statements as the statements could influence their testimony.
    However, being as they are to be the first witness called, and if they are witness for the prosecution, then, it is possible they would be allowed to be there for opening statements as nothing the defense could say would in theory influence their testimony.

    How this would work in the Wizengamot, I do not know. We have only seen a few examples of trials. Though Mrs. Figg was not in the room until she was called in to testify. Of course, this could have been because Dumbledore wanted to keep her a secret.
    Terri Black (as in Mrs Sirius {aka Padfoot} Black)
    Hufflepuff Head of House


  2. #12
    Lord Great Chamberlain
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron x Hermione
    So the family member is not allowed to sit in the trial at all if a witness until they've given their statement. What about if the lawyer knows that the person is going to be called upon as a witness first? Can that witness, a family member, be inside the courtroom from the trial's start, because no other witness will be testify before them and taint their own evidence against the accused? They would only hear the opening statement. Is that viable and believable?

    Also, can the witness ask for the accused to be removed from the court while they tell their evidence? In fear that it will harm someone else that the witness may know by the accused or friend of the accused?

    ~Lindsey
    If you're called as a witness you have to report to the receptionist in the lobby, with your letter and the Witness Service people come and meet you, usually with a member of the defence/prosecution (depending on who is calling you). You stay in a special segregated witnesses area until you are due to be called.

    You're not meant to converse with other witnesses about any aspect of your testimony, especially on any aspect of the trial, if it's found you have, you could be severely doubted as a credible witness.

    As a witness, most of your time is spent waiting around until you're called, but all of this time is within the segregated area, and when you're it's your turn in the box, the court usher brings you to the court room.

    Jury cases are always interesting because as well as the side you're representing asking questions, you also have the cross-examination, while the judge, clerk and recorder can all ask questions, and the jury can write down questions to be passed to the judge to ask, so you get it from all angles.

    Once you've been in the box, you're normally free to go, however, some cases you'd be made to stay around in case anything new comes up and you may be recalled for clarification and other matters.

    If you are deemed free to go, you are then free to join the public gallery if you wish.


    The accused can't be removed from court while in session. The witness, however, doesn't have to appear in court. Their evidence can be given by video live link (the witness will be in a room outside the courtroom, but will be able to see the courtroom, and they will be able to see the witness) - most likely in sexual offence cases, a screen can be placed round the witness box - or they can be masked and their voice vocoded. There's also the option of evidence given in private, which excludes the public from the courtroom, and a new one that is being piloted is speaking through an intermediary to ensure that you are understood (although this is usually in cases of language difficulties).


    LGC.

  3. #13
    Ron x Hermione
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    The witness, family member or not, is not allowed to be inside the room where the trial is taking place until they are told that they are free to go or they are physically giving evidence. Right. So, I guess I'll have to modify my story somewhat . . . but that's all right. I'd much rather have things accurate. In my story's case, instead of a court usher, do you think an Auror would be suitable? I might be overthinking this.

    Instead of the person reporting to a Witness Service, since this is a trial w/o a jury and in the Harry Potter world, do you think that just allowing them to enter when called upon is necessary? That a receptionist can just tell them to wait in a special room, or in some sort of a waiting area until called upon?

    And that's very interesting, how they can allow a screen for the witness to not be identified by the accused. I think that I will definitely use this.

    ~Lindsey

  4. #14
    h_vic
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    Oops sorry, that wasn't very clear. I didn't mean that they could pass on the information in the courtroom itself. I mean that they'd be able to pass on the information outside of court if the family member was choosing not to attend.

    In my story's case, instead of a court usher, do you think an Auror would be suitable?
    To be honest, an Auror is more like a policeman in terms of role and so wouldn't be independent like an usher. Whilst Aurors may be there to keep an idea on the prisoner, there'd be no reason for them to be involved with the witnesses. In fact that could be detrimental to a fair trial, because the Auror would mostly likely be biased towards the prosecution and might sway the witness.

    How they can allow a screen for the witness to not be identified by the accused.
    I've not seen one in open court, but basically it's just there to be a physical barrier between the witness and the accused. I would imagine it's somewhere along the lines of a screen around a hospital bed. It needs to be a fairly simple structure that can be easily removed from the courtroom when not in use. Although of course, in a magical court, you have a lot more freedom with that - you could even use a magical barrier of some form.

    Oh, something I thought might be worth noting as well is that an English barrister, unlike in an American court, will not wander around the courtroom whilst examining a witness/giving a speech. A barrister will stand up to speak, but he will stay put behind his bench.

    ~Hannah

  5. #15
    Lord Great Chamberlain
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron x Hermione
    The witness, family member or not, is not allowed to be inside the room where the trial is taking place until they are told that they are free to go or they are physically giving evidence. Right. So, I guess I'll have to modify my story somewhat . . . but that's all right. I'd much rather have things accurate. In my story's case, instead of a court usher, do you think an Auror would be suitable? I might be overthinking this.

    Instead of the person reporting to a Witness Service, since this is a trial w/o a jury and in the Harry Potter world, do you think that just allowing them to enter when called upon is necessary? That a receptionist can just tell them to wait in a special room, or in some sort of a waiting area until called upon?

    And that's very interesting, how they can allow a screen for the witness to not be identified by the accused. I think that I will definitely use this.

    ~Lindsey
    It could be an Auror, or another person working at the Ministry. I'm not sure if it's something an Auror would really have to do though. They're law enforcement types. It would be like sending your highest-ranking police constable to do the job. I think it more likely that someone who has a role or two within the Wizengamot Administration Services would be person to bring someone to the courtroom (with the exception of Dementors bringing in prisoners during Voldemort's years).

    We don't know much about the processes and associations with the courts, but it's very likely there is a holding room for witnesses somewhere on level 10.

    Oh, and going back to witnesses, if they need to be protected, they will be referred to Miss X or Mr K or whatever rather than referred to by name to protect their identity if necessary. Don't know if that's going to be relevant or not.

  6. #16
    Ron x Hermione
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hannah
    Oops sorry, that wasn't very clear. I didn't mean that they could pass on the information in the courtroom itself. I mean that they'd be able to pass on the information outside of court if the family member was choosing not to attend.
    Would the prosecutor, if the family was a witness, then was told that they were free to go, then they stayed for the trial and watched--- would they be able to talk about it freely with them? I don't think that I was very clear either.

    Quote Originally Posted by "LGC
    It could be an Auror, or another person working at the Ministry. I'm not sure if it's something an Auror would really have to do though. They're law enforcement types. It would be like sending your highest-ranking police constable to do the job.
    I understand that an Auror would most likely not be the best person to use, but would it be suitable for an Auror to guard the doors, if, say, it was three Death Eaters on trial? In case that they attempted some form of escape, for precautionary, high security reasons?

    And a question about how the prisoners would be addressed. In my story there are three Death Eaters [chained to the chairs in the heart of the room, like the Lexicon says]. I have a prosecutor, a man named Grey, and he is addressing each of the victims, one at a time, just sometimes randomly asking them questions pertaining to the crime. They're all three on trial for the same crime, murder of a person, and one of them seems to be more vulnerable than the rest. Would Grey ask this vulnerable man more questions than the rest? Would they have to unchain him to ask him questions and bring him to the front of the room? Or would he, Grey, just continue on while he was chained? I know that you guys don't have all the answers, but the ones you give are very creative. How would this go about while in the Wizarding World? Thank you very much for all of your help.

    ~Lindsey

  7. #17
    Lord Great Chamberlain
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron x Hermione
    And a question about how the prisoners would be addressed. In my story there are three Death Eaters [chained to the chairs in the heart of the room, like the Lexicon says]. I have a prosecutor, a man named Grey, and he is addressing each of the victims, one at a time, just sometimes randomly asking them questions pertaining to the crime. They're all three on trial for the same crime, murder of a person, and one of them seems to be more vulnerable than the rest.
    In court, if you have multiple defendants in the same trial, they will usually appear together in the dock, but be questioned separately to ascertain each individual's involvement in the crime. You may, for example have 3 men up for murder, they'll likely all plead 'not guilty' and will have their own defences as to why.

    It may be that one gets questioned more than the others, if the prosecution smells a weakness in a defence, for whatever reason, they will try to exploit that as much as they can - there can often be attempts by the prosecution to lead the witness into a trap, which they're not meant to do, and this is often called by the defence advocate, or the judge might call it.

    In terms of a wizarding court, if you intend that your DEs be on trial together, I'd expect that all 3 will be chained there, and if they are in full view of the wizengamot will be addressed in turn, for the sake of avoiding disruptions, a charm may be placed on the others to prevent them from speaking out of turn.

    Putting them on trial together will take quite long in terms of a single session sitting, and much of the wizengamot are getting on a bit, so to have 3 DEs on trial together could put a strain on them, some might fall asleep even, although you could maybe place some kind of spell on the court to ensure this isn't possible?

    If I were writing it, I'd probably look at each DE having his/her own trial, even if they are accused of the same offence - that might not be the best way of doing it if you wanted to focus on the trial of the 3 of them and do in-depth trials.

    It's not unusual for murder trials to last weeks as the trial unfolds with opening statements, questioning of any number of witnesses, cross-examination, extra questioning from other parties (as alluded to in an earlier post), and depending on how closely you relate your court scenes to that, will depend on what is best for you.

    As for randomly asking questions, this would be awkward. You'd expect there to be some kind of structure to get to the bottom of what happened, establish what the defence of the accused is and decide where to go from there.

    If 3 people are charged with murder, it could be that 2 of them took less of a part, in that, one person cast the spell that caused the death while the others were merely accessories. A vulnerable person may reveal in his defence that he was there, with the others, but only helped the others in the murder, potentially crippling their defence and perhaps helping himself to a lesser sentence.

    Depending on when your DEs are on trial, and whether the Dementors are still at Azkaban will obviously determine just how less a punishment it could turn out to be - if there are Dementors involved at all, I don't think a lesser sentence could actually exist if you have to put up with them.

    Would the prosecutor, if the family was a witness, then was told that they were free to go, then they stayed for the trial and watched--- would they be able to talk about it freely with them? I don't think that I was very clear either.
    I've been thinking about this, and I'm not sure if any family members have actually been in court, as members of the public and not in roles as Ministry officials. Harry's trial was brought forward unexpectantly so he had no support to speak of from friends, etc. This gives you an opportunity to expand on what we know of a courtroom's layout and those present outside of official personnel and those on trial, but getting back to your question, if you are following the stylistics of a typical criminal case in our world, then yes, there is nothing to stop a witness discussing their evidence with other members of the public, family, whoever, once they have been freed from being a witness in a case - it isn't particularly advisable however, because you could be in a corridor discussing your evidence with person A, who might be overheard by person B who might know witness X who hasn't yet given evidence and may pass the information on if a situation came to be where the trial was adjourned for the night, although some cases, if they are important, have been known to run into the evening - the passing of that kind of information could potentially prevent problems with their evidence, although it would add a lot of pressure to a witness, who in the middle of a trial suddenly adds/omits information that was in their original statement, .

    Ultimately, we don't know how long a full trial could last. Harry's was at 8.20am and didn't last all that long, but something more serious, could take all day, several days, or however long it takes for justice to prevail.

    I understand that an Auror would most likely not be the best person to use, but would it be suitable for an Auror to guard the doors, if, say, it was three Death Eaters on trial? In case that they attempted some form of escape, for precautionary, high security reasons?
    We know that the chains on the chair in court binds the accused if they are considered to be dangerous. In a room full of Ministry officials chances of escape could be difficult. So your 3 DEs, even if they are very accomplished wizards would do well to escape - I'm sure there would be plenty of counter measures in place, but an Auror or two preventing people from entering the court once a trial is underway would seem a very likely event, if there were cause for concern - they (be it Aurors or otherwise) would likely be the equivalent to our Group 4 prisoner custody officers (basically the Prison Service use contractors to escort prisoners/people remanded in custody from where they're being held to courts and back) - they use these to free up police and prison officers.

    Given that Aurors have a difficult job to do anyway, and depending on when in the timeline your trial takes place - they're still essentially law enforcement or police officers - you might wish to have somebody else do it, if Voldemort or some other major problems are out there which means that Aurors are required elsewhere. Perhaps, retired Aurors who are no longer up to the level of demanding work and pressure to be hunting criminals, but still have the skills that can be put to some good, or you could introduce something altogether unknown to us.


    And I've gone on quite a bit there, so I shall stop for now. Hopefully the above has given you some ideas.

    - LGC

  8. #18
    Ron x Hermione
    Guest
    Thank you so much, LGC. That much detail really helped me out, and funnily enough, the part where you talked about a vulnerable person is exactly what I'm planning on doing--- allowing the vulnerable Death Eater tell the court his part of how he was there but did not use the Killing Curse, thereby lessening his own sentence. I really like your idea on using a silencing spell for the other two Death Eaters. I just might use that if it is all right.

    I'm not exactly sure if this thread will be closed or not, but if anyone else has any other suggestions, it'd be much appreciated. I probably will have another question or two later, anyway. Thanks so much, LGC, again.

    EDIT: Another question. So sorry. If that vulnerable prisoner we were speaking of--- if he knew something, but was withholding it, would he say so?

    As in, I have the prosecutor asking him who murdered the person. He, the accused, responds by saying, "I cannot say." He lives in fear of Voldemort, of what he or the other Death Eaters could do to him. Now, no one in the court or Wizengamot suspects of this, so they're not going to allow or even think about permitting him to--- you know, get behind a screen and mask his voice, or give his testimony from another room. They would know it was him, especially if he were missing from his usual chained seat. So, thus, would the prisoner say this? How would the prosecutor respond? I know that Veritaserum is not an option, so really they couldn't break the truth from him unless he chose to, accepted a plea bargain, etc. I guess what I'm asking is if this could even happen and how the prosecutor would respond.

    Also, could one of the accused, a.k.a, the vulnerable person again, be used as a witness?

    ~Lindsey

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