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Flashcards in Courtroom Skills Deck (34)

What are the two main types of witnesses called in court?

Professional witness
Expert witness


What is a Professional witness?

A professional witness is a witness of an incident in person (i.e. was
present at the time/scene) these witnesses may include Police Officers or indeed,
Forensic Scientists who gathered physical evidence.


What is an expert witness?

An expert witness, in the UK and some overseas countries, is a person
whose opinion by virtue of education, training, certification, skills or experience, is accepted by the judge as an expert. An Expert Witness did not have to be present at the time of the incident in order to make an opinion- based on literature and the interpretation of given evidence.


Who else may be asked to give evidence?



What must all witnesses remember?

Their duty is to the Court, not one side or another. Unbiased


Who hires an expert witness?

Contact from a legal professional or detective/police officer


Who can't hire an expert witness?

a 'litigant person' i.e. the person involved in the lawsuit as it as seen as witness can't be biased


What might the instructor request from the expert witness?

A written report, having supplied their evidence to you


What should a written report consist of?

Short biography of the author(s) (reports may be joint, or any assistance may be disclosed) Listed information and your understanding of the instruction
You must assess the quality of your references- credible? High powered study? Unique case study


Why shouldn't you guess when writing a report?

Opposition may have another expert witness to argue against you


What kind of case can you have in England?

Either a criminal or civil case


What is the order of courts you go to in order of seriousness for a criminal case?

Magistrates Court
Crown Court
Court of Appeal
Supreme Court


What is the order of courts you go to in order of seriousness for a civil case?

County Court
High Court of Justice (Queen's bench, Chancery and Family)
Court of Appeal
Supreme Court


Who are solicitors?

Legally Qualified, may form a partnership or join a law firm. Generally act in lower courts


Who are barristers?

Barristers (England) Advocate (Scotland): Have completed their law degree, and Bar exam (“approaching the Bar”) Self-employed and generally specialised, they act in higher courts QC (Queens Council)


Who are "Silks"?

“Silks”: generally an eminent lawyer (barrister or advocate) who has obtained an extreme reputation and has been appointed by the Queen on the suggestion by the Lord Chancellor to be one of “Her Majesty’s Counsel Learned in the Law


What do senior counsel/ senior advocate get their title awarded from?

On jurisdiction. Privileged to the Bar. Based on merit rather that particular experience


What happens in a Magistrates Court?

3 people, if 2 can’t make a decision one has the power of the decision, no legal training, not paid. Clark of court- legally trained, advise magistrates.


What does the prosecuting solictor of the magistrates court have to prove?

Offence commited,
Defendant committed it,
Correct procedures
Has to prove beyond all reasonable doubt a suspect is guilty, defence don’t need to win just the prosecution just has to lose


What does the defence solicitor in the magistrates court have to do?

Challenge evidence


What does the Supreme Court do?

Doctrine of precedence. Isn’t a witness box, jury box. All round a table. High up legal people (lords and ladies)- make a case in to law without changing law


What does the coroner court do?

Not medically qualified but legally qualified. Can’t point blame. Only in England, Scotland have sheriffs court instead
It decides the cause of death in applicable cases. They DO NOT judge the
accused or appoint blame.


What is the CPS?

Crown Prosecution Service, act on behalf of majesty, deployed for that purpose


Who must disclose all information in a case?

The prosecution


Who doesn't have to disclose all information in a case?

The defence


What court is there in Scotland instead of the Coroner's Court?

Sherriff court


What must happens in Criminal courts?

“Beyond Reasonable Doubt”. The Prosecutor must convince the Decision Maker (s)


What must happen in Civil Courts?

“On balance of probabilities” “More Likely Than Not”


When giving evidence what must you do with regard to how you speak?

You must avoid using language that may be considered ‘outside of your area of expertise’. This may be criticized or used as a ‘point of attack’, to your detriment. If you are asked for your opinion, it is best practice to state “in my opinion- more/ or less likely than not, I believe…”. Exercise discretion and honest humility when constructing your reply


When appearing in court how should you dress?

Buttons and bows…you should appear credible and professional and if in doubt, ask the Clerk of Court who to address and how (titles change across the UK and Ireland and may depend on the Court). You will not be too criticised for being wrong as long as you appear to have made an honest effort to show respect.


What is the Oath and Affirmation?

You must declare your FULL and HONEST opinion on matters raised- you are entitled to choose either statement, and in some jurisdictions, select a Holy Book that you identify with


What does a barrister refer to another barrister as?

"My Learned Friend"


What does a barrister refer to a solicitor as?

"My Friend"


What is the aim of the cross-examiner?

To try and ruin your credibility or character and attempt to make you miss-speak