Courts of Australia

Victorian Court Hierarchy

High Court of Australia

The High Court’s duties involve conducting the interpretation and the enforcement of the Australian law, resolving cases of specific federal impact, such as concerns about the statutory competence of laws, and hearing appeals through special leaves from Federal, Regional, and Territory courts.

Supreme Court

A jury or a judge hears cases in this Court. Both the trial Division and the Appeal court are the two divisions of the Court. The Trial Division deals with criminal proceedings, such as murder and significant financial and business disputes. It also handles cases from ruling reached by both the County as well as the Supreme Court trial division (Law Foundation, 2021).

County Court

The County Court conducts cases that involve more severe offenses and lawsuits exceeding a hundred thousand dollars. The judge and the jury can try these cases in the County Court.

Magistrates’ Court

Many legitimate disagreements in Victoria are conducted by the Magistrates’ Court. Traffic violations, insignificant assaults, property damage, and destructive conduct are examples of “summary issues” tried under the Court’s criminal authority, which are lesser in seriousness tried and decided by the judge compared to burglary and theft, to name a few.

Juvenile Court

 Juvenile Court is similar to that one of the Magistrate, but it only deals with children’s issues. Except for the charges involving suicide or attempted homicide, which should be held in the adult courtroom, all allegations are heard in the Criminal Division of the Chamber. This division also handles applications for domestic abuse and personal protection intervention orders.

Coroners Court

When a death occurs spontaneously, once the cause of death is unknown or a corpse cannot be found, the Coroners’ Court investigates. The prosecutor will investigate the cause of death. The coroner may issue accounts with suggestions to attempt to avert related deaths from occurring in the future (Allan & Aroney, 2008).

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

This Court deals with a variety of less formal cases. Market issues, retail tenancy disagreements, owners company disputes, land selling and possession, and the use or flow of water between premises are covered here.

Courts in Victoria have different hierarchies; one is to have specialization courts are divided into levels based on the kinds of cases they hear, the rules that apply to such claims, and the protocols that must be followed. The other reason is to allow doctrine precedence. The Doctrine of Precedent cannot work efficiently without a court hierarchy. Under this doctrine, superior court rulings on new matters bind all lower courts in the order (Derwing et al., 2000). This implies that the law is applied consistently. The other explanation is that appeals are allowed. Successful appeals require a judicial hierarchy.

How Courts Make Law in Australia

 In the policy of pattern is a required constriction on legal decision-making in Australia. The principle of the pattern is based on the belief that when making judgments, judges must give due deference to previous judicial decisions (Legal Aid, 2020b). Common law, also known as case law, is based on lengthy reports of similar patients and regulations because there is no correct legal code that would apply to a specific case.

Statutory laws refer to laws created by parliament in the form of legislation. The common and statutory laws share a symbiotic type of relationship, and they interact directly and indirectly. For instance, in terms of the constitution, statutory law prevails over the common law.

Differences between Criminal and Civil Law

At the resident, state, and national levels, criminal laws describe criminal acts and institute civil penalties for those accused of arson, physical attack, and robbery. In the criminal justice system, only criminal law cases are heard. Moreover, civil law is concerned with the public’s right to privacy. Civil laws are used whenever a person’s rights have been violated or whenever citizens engage in disputes among themselves or other groups (Legal Aid, 2020a).

 Regarding criminal and civil courts, they use different standards to prove their cases. In criminal cases, the state or federal government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender committed the criminality. On the contrary, in civil cases, the plaintiff has the presumption of proof and should demonstrate that the respondent is more than expected to be blamed for the matter.

The outcome of criminal cases when one is proven guilty the punishment and conviction are in the form of fines, community service, and custodial punishment, while for civil cases when a party is found liable, it is expected to award compensation.

The Magistrates Courtroom Floor Plan and their Functions and Duties

Magistrate's entrance.

A magistrate is a civilian officer who administers the law. The duties of the Magistrate are laid at the district levels. They handle tasks for both criminal and civil cases. Furthermore, they hold dispositive motions, schedule conferences, conduct settlements and arraignments.

A bench clerk is a person who observes proceedings taking place in Court. The bench clerk tells people where and how to stand, reads charges to the criminal, and oaths witnesses.

A lawyer is a person whose profession is to advise on legal rights and conducting lawsuits for their clients. Lawyers’ responsibilities include representing and advising clients in Court, researching legal issues, and interpreting laws, rules, and rulings.

A defendant is someone accused or sued for committing a crime. A defender responds to the claims of the claimant. However, he doesn’t prove the case; it’s the work of the plaintiff. The plaintiff brings the topic to the Court, provides evidence for the chance to be heard, and allows the case to proceed.

A witness is a person with relevant information about a crime. They clarify what happened in the scene to the judge or jury, and the information provided by them becomes evidence of the case.

Main Types of Cases in the Magistrate Court

All criminal cases start at the magistrate court, and at an average of 95%, the cases are completed here. The more severe cases are passed to higher courts if the defendant is found guilty and has been sentenced or for full trial with the judge and jury. Magistrates deal with three cases: summary offenses-these are less severe cases such as minor assaults and monitoring offenses where the defendant is not entitled to be tried by the jury. Either way, offenses-these cases can be dealt with by judges, jury, or the Magistrate.

This can lead to the defendant if found guilty, been imposed tougher sentences. Indictable-these are offenses such as rape, robbery, and manslaughter that are only heard in high courts. If the case is indictable, the magistrate court decides if they consider legal issues such as restrictions to the defendant or granting bail and then pass the chance to the high Court. In magistrate courts, there are various forms of hearings (Handayani, 2017). The first trial in a criminal case is called a mention hearing. The case can be heard and be determined if the defendant pleads guilty. The Magistrate will decide whether the matter can be settled during this hearing. Parties are asked to estimate the time to resolve the case and the number of witnesses to be called. If the issue can be fixed, a contested hearing takes place. Contest hearing-at this stage, the lawyer and the prosecutor present their case to the Court. Witnesses are crossed examined, and they give their evidence on the matter (Sang-Hie, 2017). The judicial officer hears evidence from both sides and is left to decide on the final judgment.

Etiquette and Protocols at the Melbourne Magistrate Court

Courtrooms are formal places with standards and rules to help matters proceed smoothly. When in courts, all people present are supposed to respect the court system and magistrates. If etiquette does not adhere, one may be forced out of the courtroom. One should arrive early at the Court to familiarize with the place and be prepared for proceedings. The dress code of the Court requires one to dress neatly and smartly. A person should behave respectfully in the courtroom; one should: maintain silence unless when called upon to speak by the Magistrate, mobile phones should be silent, refrain from eating and drinking, and no recording of proceeding should take place.

There are strict codes on how to behave around the Magistrate, which include: address Magistrate as your honor, nodding the head at the Magistrate when one enters or leaves the courtroom, standing noiselessly when the judge enters or exist, standing when the Magistrate is speaking to you and following and listening to the directions given by Magistrate. When a person is leaving the courtroom, one should bow the head in the order of a judicial officer.

References    

Allan, J., & Aroney, N. (2008). An uncommon court: How the High Court of Australia has undermined Australian federalismSydney Law Review30, 245.

Aroney, N. (2018). 2. The High Court of Australia: Textual Unitarism vs. Structural Federalism (pp. 29-68). University of Toronto Press.

Environ Tippers Victoria PTY LTD v Patrick Blandthorn [2020] VMC 7.

Handayani, D. (2017). Legal principles of evidence on civil cases in public judiciaryHang Tuah Law Journal1(1), 111.

Law Foundation. (2021). Victoria Law Foundation.

Legal Aid, V. (2020a). Going to court | Victoria Legal Aid. Legalaid.vic.gov.au.

Legal Aid, V (2020b). Your day in court | Victoria Legal Aid. Legalaid.vic.gov.au.

Police v Vella (2019). Victoria Magistrate Court 1.

Sang-Hie, H. (2017). Candlelight rallies and accountability of the judiciary. Democratic Legal StudiesNull (64), 7-52.