1. I was present to attend the Supreme Court of Western Australia on 9th of March, 2012.



2. Presided by Hon’ble Justice Janine Pritchard I attended a sentencing hearing of Roger Green


3. The charges were indictable on the defendant as he was charged with Unlawful Trafficking of a Dangerous Drug i.e. Heroin and one count of possession of Dangerous Drugs. As both the offences were prosecuted by way indictment which is to formally bring the charges before court and they are the offences which can only be dealt by District or Supreme Court which decides the verdict on the basis of evidences, witness statements and rule of law and legal principles.


4. As Australia is following an adversarial system of justice the judge acts as a referee between two adversaries i.e the prosecution and the defence rather than taking part in the active investigation of the case. In this type of system the judge passes its verdict on the rule of law rather than relying upon the situations of fact. Moreover, the judges also have a responsibility to guide the jury about the authencity and weightage of a particular evidence and while sentencing its the judge’s role to grant appropriate sentence taking circumstances of the case in account. During my visit it was noted that the judge had extensive consultation with the counsels of the parties regarding their views upon the severity of the sentence, before making a decision.


Bailiff: The bailiff acts as the supporting officer to the judge whose role is to assist the judge and maintaining order in the courtroom. The bailiff has a responsibility to conduct the trial in a procedural manner like they have to call the witnesses to the stand and escort the judge etc. Thus, the bailiff has to be extremely aware of the court processes and well versed with the type of cases that has to be dealt by him. As, it is also the bailiff who is taking active part in the desicion making although indirectly it is also his responsibility to see that nobody is prejudices.  As it was a sentencing hearing the bailiff had reduced role due to the absence of any jury thus it was observed that he escorted the judge to the court and announced the commencement of proceedings.


Judge’s Associate: They were given a responsibility to assist the judge in administrative parts of the hearing, reading and framing the charges and performing arrangement.  It was observed in my presence that the assistant read the charges and conducted the arrangement as well as handling of the formal paperwork of the case like the maintenance of records, compiling of witness statements, making summary of necessary arguments, development and dates of hearing of the case etc and on a step to step basis assisted the judge whenever he needed any documentation, research and developments of the case.


Prosecutor: they have a responsibility to act for the protection of the crown and in turn people as they were appointed by the department of public prosecution which is an authority under the crown. They have a responsibility to frame a strong case against the defendant to satisfy the judges on the onus of proof on the basis of available evidence, facts and circumstances, statement of witnesses, expert opinions, documentary proofs etc. It was observed during my visit that the prosecutor was arguing for the sentence to be imposed taking into account the gravity of the offence, past record of the offender etc.  and reasons for the same after duly presenting the facts of the case.


Defence Barrister: He has a responsibility to represent the case of the defendant and get a best possible verdict for him. Also, he has a responsibility to brief his client about the process of the court and follow the hearing’s progress. It is also his responsibility to frame the defence upon valid legal principles and facts and circumstances in question It was observed during my visit that the defence barrister argued for a liberal sentence for the defendant taking into account the economic and social condition of the defendant, the circumstances which compelled him for the offence etc.


Defendant: They are the persons on trial and don’t have role to play without permission as the representation is done through legal counsels. It was observed during my visit that the defendant was escorted to the court by the correction officer and was made to seat at the dock and he only participated when asked some questions.


Barrister’s Associate: They have been responsibility to assist the barrister in and out of the court also they are responsible for the management of the paperwork and key research regarding the case for the barrister. It was observed during my visit that he was dealing with the clients and providing important information related to the case to the barrister also explaining the implications of the case and relevant laws under which the case has been dealt.


Corrections Officer: He has been given responsibility to manage the defendant during the trial in the courtroom so that the outbursts form the defendant is prevented. It is his responsibility to maintain the proper decorum of the court so that the hearing cannot be disturbed by the defendant outburst and everything goes according to the process prescribed by the statute and the courts. It was his responsibility to make the defendant available whenever he is been called by the court in connection to his hearing and was given a position to stand on both sides of the dock of the defendant. It was observed during my visit that these officers escorted defendant in and out of the courtroom.


Public: To make the criminal justice system more important the presence of public is required as the system is always accountable to the public.  As the criminal justice system is aimed at increasing transparency and make more and more people aware of the consequences of contravention of the laws. Also, the criminal justice system is aimed at restoring order in public thus by including public in the observation area it makes people aware of the trends and techniques under which criminal cases are decided. It was observed during my visit that many people some relatives of the defendant and other students were sitting in the gallery made for the general public.



5. The courtroom was bustling with discussions between the barristers and associates before the entry of the judge as the judge’s arrival was announced by the bailiff the courtroom went silent and judge entered. After taking the seat she discussed with her assistant and the prosecution about the matter to be presented and the corrections officer was duly instructed to escort the defendant to the courtroom by the judge which was duly done by the same.

The judge’s associate then performed her arriangement and the charges were read out to the defendant after which the prosecution was invited by the judge to present his arguments and his suggestions of the sentence. The suggested sentence by the prosecution was of 7 years imprisonment for the charge of unlawful trafficking. After which the defence barrister was invited to counter the charges of prosecution.

The defence explained the defendant’s condition as a low level street trafficker who is pursuing his own habit of heroin rather than supplying the same for a lavish life style and argued for a suspended sentence with a treatment in rehab facility so that a deterrence is achieved and after he comes out of the facility he can lead a normal life and look to earn a decent living rather than getting into these type of illegal and bad habits which would be harming him and in turn he would be a menace to the society which can be affected by his bad influence. After discussing the treatment offered in the correctional facilities for drug addiction with the defence the judge came to a conclusion that a serious crime of trafficking can’t be overlooked on a plea of addiction.

Then the judge after much deliberation pronounced a sentence of imprisonment for 5 years with a opportunity of parole after serving of the one third of the sentence which was accepted by both the adversaries.

The sentence was then explained to the defendant by the judge and reasons for it were also given after which the corrections officer was instructed by the judge to escort defendant out of the courtroom.





6. The most interesting thing during my visit was my observance for the respect of the judge in the eyes of seasoned barristers and prosecutors as before the entry of the judge there were much joking and bustling going around inside the court room but as soon as the judge entry was announced everything was formalised and the silence and decorum was maintained in front of the judge.


7. My knowledge of the study of the criminal law made me understood the happenings of the court and the legal terminology used better as it was quite simple to understand and many of the terms are in lay terms.



8. Any defendant with a competent counsel will understand the court proceedings better as he will be briefed beforehand about the process of the court and conducting of his trial and sentencing. Even if they don’t understand all the nuances of the trial but still the briefing helps them to understand the legal complications, law under which he is tried, consequences of his conviction or quashing of charges, type of punishment, evidences in his support, evidences against him and the legal nuances involved in the trial as the barrister’s associate constantly briefs the defendant it is ensured that the defendant is conversant with the trial without such help he would be unable to understand.


The witness or a victim does not have facility of briefing provided under the law so they would not competently understand the nuances of trial and court processes as the defendant thus sometimes it becomes very distressing for them to attend the court proceedings as they only wait for the verdict which is also sometimes out of their understanding and implications of verdict is also sometimes beyond their understanding.


The jury has a much better understanding of the court processes rather than the victims and witnesses as they are the one instructed by the judges and sums up the proceedings before they are deliberated upon which includes proper sorting of evidences, witness statements, arguments of parties and documentary prrof. For the fairness of the trial higher priority were given to jury members view than the witness or victims as they are implied to be completely aware of the facts and circumstances of the case.


9. I found the sentencing hearing of Roger Green quite hard to watch as there was no possible participation by him and he was seated in a huanted position with defeat staring in his eyes as the judge also felt somewhat disengaged while holding control over his life at the moment and the decision was given without involving him rather taking into view the discussions forwarded by some rich and powerful people deciding a poor man’s life.


In the adversarial system the sentencing plays the most important part as judges are allowed to apply their discretion while exercising this power which should take into account all the intricacies. It is discretion that the judges should take into account to grant a sentence of deterrence, punishment or rehabilitation looking at the circumstances of the crime. In the present case a rehabilitative sentence would have served the purpose for a drug addict instead he was given a retributive sentence that meant that deterrence would not be achieved as there may be chance that after completing his prison term same offence could have been repeated by him rather if the rehabilitative sentence was given it would have transformed him and freed him from the addiction so that it would be a lesser chance that he would have repeated the offence thus deterrence would have been achieved.