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Court Assignment

In: Social Issues

Submitted By danielypg
Words 1372
Pages 6
Date: 23rd Feb 2012
Judge: Mr. Justice Smart Names of Lawyers:
Crown
D.A. Jardine, P.M. Favell, S. Nahal Defendants
Counsel for Mr. Sipes: M.K. Woodall, M.A. Nathanson, G. Ng
Counsel for Mr. Podolski: R.C. Claus, M. Jetté, G. Docolas
Counsel for Mr. O’Donnell: G. Orris, Q.C., C.L. Bauman
Counsel for Mr. Manolakos: R.A. (Sandy) Ross, P. Doherty, A. Rinaldis
Counsel for Mr. Brownell: C.R. Purves, B.L. Hickford, J. Mills

Brief Summary of Trail This trail took place in Courtroom 20 in the B.C. Supreme Court where every visitor was required to pass through a security check. The case involves three homicides done 5 years ago by five members of an alleged Vernon, B.C. drug gang dubbed The Greeks (Organized crime group). The alleged gangsters are being represented by 15 lawyers, 5 more than the Crown prosecution team. Among the 5 accused, Dale Sipes, Les Podolski and Sheldon O'Donnell have been charged with the first-degree murder of Dave Marnuik and none of them have pleaded guilty. Due to the seriousness of the case and lengthy court proceedings, the trail is expected to last until July of 2012.

From our observation, the lawyer represented Crown (plaintiff) began direct examination of a girl(witness) who claimed to have seen the defendants return to the apartment that she was living in. Crown’s lawyer asked her if she did truthfully report to the police officer what she saw and accurately draw the diagram of the location. We did not see any of the defendants giving opening statement and been examined. After the direct examination by Crown’s lawyer, the defendants’ lawyer stated the evidence that the witness is not capable of describing the truth since she told the police officer she had bad memory due to her drug use. The lawyer for defendant started cross examination of the witness by asking the same question that if she truthfully reported what she knew to the police officer. The Court later asked to present the drawing of the witness and asked a number of questions regarding the details on it. During this process, a jury composed of seven-men and five-women was asked to enter the courtroom and examine the drawing.

2. From your observations and from what you have learned in class about trials, would you say that the trial process, in general, is more co-operative or adversarial in nature?

Generally, the trial process is more adversarial in nature. In law, trials are when parties have disputes and meet together to present information to protect their own rights; from our observations of this particular trial, both parties took their own position by questioning the witness to get the advantageous evidence for each party.

During the process of witness examination, the Crown Counsel is trying to convince the judge and juries that the defendants are guilty by presenting the evidence the witness provides and confirming what the witness reports is truthful and accurate. However, by asking the same questions to the witness, the defendants counsel is trying to prove that the witness is not capable to provide truth and what she says is not credible and sufficient as good evidence to convict his clients. Although, both parties ask the same questions, the Accused Counsel is looking for the flaws in the witness wording. The Accused Counsel states that when the witness is answering the questions of the police officer she also says that she has horrible memory at that time and cannot recall what exactly happened. In addition, the Accused Counsel also spot that witness is a drug user who is involved in buying and constantly taking illegal drugs. What Accused Counsel points out imaged the witness is not able to manage her life well and cannot describe what she sees accurately and truthfully

Although the witness claims that she doesn’t have any memory problems. In order to arrive his own version of the facts or at least to minimize the strength of the evidence that the Crown counsel, I feel that the lawyer does give the witness some pressure by picking out the flaws from her wording; questioning her bad memory and drugs taking history.

3. From our observations and from what we have learned in class, we would like to say that the process and procedures used by the court are a good way to arrive at the “truth”?

Based on our observations at the courtroom and learning from class, we believe that the process and procedures used by the court are fair and a good way to arrive at the “truth” though it seems apparently lengthy and time-consuming to us.

The procedure used by the court follows a good order and is well controlled by the judge. Every party needs to follow same rules and sequences in order to speak and present any information. Lawyers representing each party have to request the judge before they proceed with their account. In this criminal case, the defendants’ lawyer has requested permission from the judge to cross-examine the witness.

In any criminal case, Crown decides whether to prosecute the accused and have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The law requires the court to presume the accused as innocent and the burden of prove is on Crown so that it has to supply sufficient and accurate evidence. From our observation, Crown has collected a great of information about the case and documented them; during the process, the judge, jury and lawyers are paying high attention and constantly taking notes. Also, the lawyers representing two parties asked the witness the same questions whether she has truthfully reported to the police and her account is as accurate as possible. This repetition of questions may be used to ensure the accuracy and eliminate any disputes over evidence. Moreover, the jury is not in the courtroom all the time and was invited by the judge when asked to examine the drawing. The witness, on the other hand, was asked to leave the courtroom for a while and invited back in at later time. This shows that the trial follows some form of procedure to ensure fairness.

From our observation, the Crown and defendants’ counsel seem to have equal opportunity to examine the witness. In the trial, the cross-examination questioning allowed the Accused counsel to question the witness of the Crown in order to challenge the validity of the testimony. The Crown tries to prove that the account and the drawing provided by the witness is true during the examination process. On the other hand, the defendant’s counsel tries to prove that the witness has drug-related and memory issues and thus cannot supply valid information. Particularly, the defendants’ counsel has found through questioning that the witness has purchased drugs illegally and thus doesn’t have clean hands. Though each party is taking their own position with complimentary laws, the procedures used are generally well in order.

4. Do you have any other observations or comments with respect to the trial that you watched?
In my opinion, the trial procedure is really time consuming and slow progression. What we heard in the trial was only a corner of the whole case. In that an hour, what each party did was just arguing how truthfully and accurately the evidence can witness provide by asking her same questions. The three victims with links to the Greeks all ended up dead back in 2004 and 2005. However, with the long-delayed trial moved to Vancouver, the trial started in 2011; it was expected to be a year-long , both emotionally and demanding trial.

The purpose of the trial we attended is to examine the Crown’s witness and settle disputes over her drawing. According to our later research, we learnt that the Crown has identified more than 100 witnesses for this murder case. Thus, though the trial procedure seems just and fair, it can be very lengthy and inefficient if all of witnesses are waited to be appear in court. Another interesting aspect in this trial is that defendants’ lawyers outnumber that of the Crown. We have a feel that this will potentially give the defendants more power in the courtroom.…...

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