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SWM105 Law, Accountability and Professional Judgement


Court Observation and Reflection

Part 1

Ques 1 – Prior to the trial at the Supreme Court, where would the case have commenced and been heard first?

Ans – The case would have been first heard by a magistrate court and then transfer to a district and county court. But crimes of serious nature such as murder in this case are referred to the supreme court which will conduct jury trials as it is an indictable offence. It is the highest in the state (Federal Court of Australia, 2022).

Ques 2 – If Justin had pleaded guilty, what would have happened next?

Ans – In that case, the public prosecutor would have read out the statement of alleged facts, and other aspects related to it. After hearing the details, the court would have asked Justin if he has anything to add to it. In either condition, the court would have then proceeded to announce the sentence as deemed fit (Supreme Court of Victoria, 2022).

Ques 3 – What is the role of a Jury?

Ans – In a criminal case, a Jury comprises 12 people. The role of a Jury is a very important one. They take all the admissible evidence from all the involved parties and then decide if the accused is guilty or not. They bring a set of values and standards to the courtroom, as expected by the people(Federal Court of Australia, 2022) .

Ques 4 – What are some of the reasons why the prosecution or defence might ‘stand aside’ or ‘challenge’ a potential juror?

Ans – The primary reason why the prosecution or defence might stand aside or challenge a potential juror is if they have information suggesting that the potential juror is impartial. Other reasons behind such a challenge are if the inclusion of the juror affects the integrity of the jury and a previous record of conviction (Supreme Court of Victoria, 2022).

Ques 5 – What happens if the prosecution or defence uses their six challenges or stand asides?

Ans – If the prosecution or defence exercise the right to stand and challenge the juror, it results in the immediate and permanent exclusion of the challenged individual from that particular jury. Although, the excluded juror may be included in a different jury for a different case. The prosecution holds the right to stand aside again (Victorian Law Reform Commission, 2022).


Ques 1 – Can witnesses giving testimony in a trial sit and watch proceedings? Why/why not?

Ans – A witness may be summoned by the court if it deems fit to. The witness is expected to present every bit of information they may possess in its original form. The witness giving testimony in a trial is not allowed to sit and watch as the proceedings of the court may influence the witness. The witness may hear anything that might influence him/her to provide information in an unoriginal and corrupted manner. To avoid any sort of potential adulteration of the information provided by the witness, they are prohibited from sitting and watching the proceedings (Federal Court of Australia, 2022).  

Ques 2 – In what situations would a video link be required for witness testimony?

Ans – The Supreme court aims to administer justice to every citizen in a cost-effective and manageable manner. This also helps the court in time management. A concerned party can request the court to allow trial by video link as per section 121 of the Evidence Act 1906. Once the order by the court is obtained, it is required to make all the required arrangements and send a Video Link Booking Request to the Court not less than 14 days before the hearing. In case of criminal proceedings, there are no fees required, unless stated otherwise (“Video and Telephone Conferencing”, 2022).

Ques 3 – What does ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ mean?

Ans – As per Australian law, there are two standards of proof. One of these is ‘beyond any reasonable doubt’ in the criminal jurisdiction, which is the highest standard of proof. This is because the judiciary believes in ‘innocent until proven guilty. As per this, the jury is reminded that the accused holds the right to be presumed innocent of the charge, and should be convicted only if it has been persuaded beyond any reasonable doubt. This is to make sure that no innocent is wrongly convicted.  This is why this is called the golden thread of the common law (Federal Court of Australia, 2022).


Ques 1 – What happens if a jury can’t reach a decision?

Ans – This situation is called ‘Hung Jury’. In this case, the judge gives the jury a ‘Black Direction’. This involves motivating the jurors into listening and trusting each other in a more considerate manner. The objective behind this is to reach a unanimous decision without exerting any undue constraint on any juror. Although, this may take more time (Supreme Court of Victoria, 2022). 

Ques 2 – Can a judge overturn a jury’s verdict if he/she disagrees with them?

Ans – Yes, a judge can overturn a jury’s verdict. The judge may overturn the jury’s verdict only if there is sufficient evidence suggesting to do so. However, this is a very rare happening, as the jury is a highly respected body, as they are the representative of the community. Generally, it does not happen (Supreme Court of Victoria, 2022).

Ques 3 – What factors must the judge consider when sentencing Justin?

Ans – The judge must consider the fact that it was an act of manslaughter by criminal negligence, which is manslaughter with no intention to kill. Justin was intoxicated and grossly negligent. He is a young man who has his entire life ahead of him. The judge must consider this while deciding the severity of the penalty (Supreme Court of Victoria, 2022).

Ques 4 – What do you think Justin’s sentence should be? Why?

Ans – Justin should not be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of more than 10 years in any case. He committed manslaughter by criminal negligence, he did not intend on killing his classmate, Joe. It was an unfortunate event. I believe he should be sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment and community service to help him on a personal level.

Ques 5 – What can Justin or the prosecution do if they think the sentence is too long or too short?

Ans – Justin comes under the category of ‘Youthful offenders’ where the primary aim it rehabilitate rather than just inflict punishment. If the sentence is too long or short, the defence or prosecution can request to judge to reconsider. This reconsideration may be based on various factors such as Justin’s age, the record of criminal activity, and others (Supreme Court of Victoria, 2022).


A social worker can play a very important role in a courtroom. He/she may work as a counsellor, community safety assessor, care worker for the aged, neighbourhood manager, rehabilitation consultant, employment consultant, legal centre worker, etc. A social worker may also perform the duties of a child protection investigator and act as a mediator between parents. They can also agree to be a part of a tribunal and provide expert testimony in a case.

The court gave Justin a fair trial. The judge and jury took a calculated and impartial decision and gave him a righteous sentence. This will help Justin rehabilitate from this ordeal, come out as a better person and become an asset to the community. Overall, it was a positive experience where a young man will learn from his mistakes and improve himself.


Federal Court of Australia. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from

Supreme Court of Victoria. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from

Victorian Law Reform Commission. (2022). 3. Peremptory challenges and the Crown right to stand aside – Victorian Law Reform Commission. Victorian Law Reform Commission. Retrieved 11 February 2022, from

Video and Telephone Conferencing. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from

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