Questions and Answers
1. What is the format and expectation for the court report?
Basically, all you need to do for the court report is print off the court report questions
(contained under ASSESSMENT) and take them to the hearing and make notes in order to
answer each question. Then, use this form as the basis for your report. You can use the
Court Report Builder to help you then create a word document, enter in the questions and
type up your answers (e.g. Q1, Answer. Q2, Answer etc). You need to include a reference
list and a title page (information on this is contained in the course profile), and you’re
Your answers should be in full prose (i.e. not in note form or dot points), and should be
well-considered and clearly written. You can use first person (e.g. I attended court on ….)
but keep your writing style formal, so no colloquialisms etc.
2. Do I need to use references? How many? Do I need to do research for this piece of
Try to use references to support your ideas where possible. This is particularly necessary
for the more opinion-based questions (especially, e.g. question 12).
Here is an example of how you can include references – “I observed the defence lawyer
challenge a potential jury member. I think this challenge was based on the gender and
appearance of that person. Findlay et al (2009) suggest that the process of ‘peremptorily
challenge’ in Australia is “usually based on appearance and stereotyping”. This certainly
appeared to be the basis for challenge in the case I attended.”
You are not expected to do external research for this report, although many students find
useful information on court websites about the role of people in court. If you use these
kinds of resources you must reference them. In general, your textbook and readings will
provide you with enough supporting material for this piece of assessment.
3. Can I attend a mention in the Magistrates Court?
Mentions can sometimes be very short. For example, a mention might simply be a lawyer
telling a judge that they are still waiting for pre-sentence reports or something and so will
need a further adjournment. In short, mentions are very commonly administrative-type
hearings, and so might not provide you with enough information for your report. However,
having said that, often students have attended these kinds of matters and they’ve turned
into something very interesting and useful for the report. You’ll also find in Magistrates
Courts that there is often a lot of stuff going on, and so even though 3 matters might not
be useful, the 4th will be great. So, by all means go to the Mag court and see what you
come up with. The best rule of thumb is to consider whether or not you feel confident
that the case you’ve observed has given you sufficient scope to answer all the report
questions in some depth.
4. Can I base my report on more than one matter?
You can base your report on more than one hearing, but if you do this you need to be very
careful about maintaining coherency in your writing. It is often best to base your report on
one matter primarily, and then to use other matters as comparisons or contrasts, or to
discuss things like the atmosphere and process of the court overall.
5. What style of referencing is required for the Court Report?
The APA style of referencing is the style adopted by the School of Criminology and Criminal
6. How do I reference a direct quote or comments made by the participants (i.e., the
judge, the prosecution, the defence) in the Court procedure I observed?
If you would like to reference what was said in court (i.e., you want to provide a ‘direct
quote’ or paraphrase/summarize what that judge said) you do not need to provide a
reference for this in the Court Report. Simply ensure that you mention who made the
comment and what they said. For example: When addressing the jury the judge said “it is
now your duty to decide whether the prosecution has satisfied you that the defendant is
guilty of the charge in questions and satisfied you beyond a reasonable doubt”.
More than likely you are unable to provide a direct quote so paraphrasing or summarising
is acceptable. You could re-structure your sentence to look something like this: The Judge
gave instructions to the jury, reminding them that before they return a verdict of guilt,
the prosecution must have satisfied them that the defendant is guilty of the charge in
question beyond a reasonable doubt.
7. Do the titles of the Court participants (i.e., the judge, defendant, prosecutor etc.)
have capital letters?
Professional designations, honorific’s or other courtesy titles (e.g., judge, professor,
doctor, sergeant etc.) are capitalized when they directly precede a name, for example:
Judge John Smith. In cases where these words stand alone, even in direct address, it can
be in lowercase, for example: The judge directed the prosecution to present its case.
8. What is the word limit for the Court Report and what should be included in my final
The word limit is 2,000, generally the convention is that you are allowed a 10% leeway
either way in your word count. For example: with a word count of 2,000, the upper limit
would be 2,200 words and the lower limit would be 1,800 words. Additionally, you should
not include the questions in the word count (if you have included them in your report) and
reference lists likewise should be excluded from your final word count. In-text
referencing should be included in your word count. As long as you are not exceeding the
upper word limit by hundreds of words you are unlikely to be penalised for exceeding the
word count for this course – though I will remind you that each course has different
9. How do I reference legislation in-text and in my reference list?
To reference an Act, in the body of your essay/activity etc, you refer to the Act simply by
stating the relevant section and then the Act name and year in italics, followed by the
jurisdiction in brackets.
e.g. “The relevant section is s 24 of the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld). This states, “…..”.
Then, in your reference list, just list all the pieces of legislation referred to in the essay in
alphabetical order under a separate heading ‘Legislation’. Don’t worry about section
Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)
Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld)
Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld)
APA doesn’t really deal well with legal citation, so I’m happy for you to follow these
instructions. If you want more detail on referencing legal sources, google for an Australian
legal citation guide, such as the ‘Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) see link below:
Court Report Questions
Answer each of the following questions:
1. Explain the doctrine of precedent and how it operates within a criminal
court hierarchy. (3
2. Briefly describe the following court hearings and explain their main
a. A jury trial
b. A committal hearing
c. A sentencing hearing (6 marks)
3. What are the differences between summary and indictable offences?
4. Give a brief description of the role of the following people in a jury trial
a. The Judge
b. The prosecutor
c. The defence barrister
d. The jury
5. Which court did you attend and what was the date of your attendance?
(e.g. Magistrates Court in Southport; Supreme Court in Brisbane etc)
6. What kind of hearing did you attend?
(e.g. sentence, summary trial, committal hearing, jury trial, mention, call-over
etc) (1 mark)
7. What were the charges against the defendant in the court hearing you
attended? Were these summary or indictable offences? How did you know
8. Briefly describe what was happening in the courtroom.
This will depend on the kind of hearing you attend. For example, if you are
attending a trial you might be listening to the prosecution’s opening address;
or evidence from a witness; or a Judge summing up for the jury. If you are
attending a sentence you might be hearing the defence’s submissions as to
penalty, or the Judge’s sentence. If you attend a Magistrate arrest court you
might see a succession of summary offences dealt with. (5 marks)
9. Identify who was present in the courtroom you attended and briefly
describe the role you observed them perform.
10. What was the most interesting thing you observed during your visit?
11. Was it easy to understand what was happening in the court room? Why/
why not? (2
12. In a paragraph or two, critically reflect upon key course concepts like due
process, rule of law, and fair trials, and connect this to your experience in
court. Was the hearing you attended a ‘just’ hearing? (6
Total Marks: 40
COURT REPORT INFORMATION SHEET:
All students are expected to attend a criminal court proceeding and to submit
a report about their experience. This assessment item is due by 5pm Friday
Week 8, so you need to make preparations to attend court as soon as
Note: Students who do not complete the required court reports will be
awarded a grade of ‘fail incomplete’. It is recommended that you begin looking
for appropriate hearings early in the semester so that you are not hampered
by unforeseen events (such as court holidays). Extensions will not be given to
students who have left it late in the semester to attend court and are unable to
find appropriate hearings.
You can attend the Magistrates’ Court (also called the Local Court in other
jurisdictions); the District Court; the Supreme Court; or the Court of Appeal.
You need to make sure that you are attending a criminal court proceeding.
What kind of hearing?
You should aim to attend a committal, a trial (summary or full), or a sentence.
It is possible that the proceeding you plan to attend changes after you arrive
in the courtroom. For example, a matter which is set down as a trial might not
proceed because the defendant decides to plead guilty. The matter might then
proceed immediately to sentencing, but is often adjourned to a later date. If
this happens while you are in court, you should decide if what you have
already seen is sufficient for you to complete your report well. If you don’t
have enough information, you should attend a different matter instead. It is
useful to attend court on a day when there are several matters on the court list
as this gives you more chance of finding an interesting matter to report on.
How do I find out what courts are close to me and what matters are
listed from day to day?
If you are in Queensland, the Courts website publishes a daily law list for most
Courts each evening. You can find this on the homepage at
Alternatively, links to other Australian courts can be found at the bottom of the
courts.qld.gov.au webpage. You can telephone the registry office to find out
details of court hearings in your area – this is particularly useful if you live
away from metropolitan areas.
Try to find a matter that is not already part-heard. You might find it difficult to
understand what is happening if you attend the 4th week of a trial! The daily
law lists usually give you this information.
If you have any problems in finding an appropriate matter please contact the
Course Convenor. Make sure you attend a criminal matter and not a civil
How long do I have to spend in court?
You should set aside a day to attend court as you need to stay long enough to
answer all the questions on the form completely. A sentence can take
anywhere between 15 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the issues
raised. A committal hearing, a summary trial, and some District Court or
Supreme Court trials often only take a day to hear. Other trials can be very
long – you do not need to attend court for weeks to see a trial through to its
conclusion. Be guided by the form – if you think you have seen enough to
answer the questions intelligently then you need not stay longer.
IMPORTANT – Court Etiquette
In attending court, decorum is required (particularly in the higher courts).
Make sure you are neatly dressed with covered shoes (not thongs) and that
you are on time.
Turn off mobile phones and don’t talk during proceedings. Sit as quietly as
Whenever you leave or enter a courtroom and a hearing is in session you will
need to bow to the Judge or Magistrate before leaving or entering. Do this at
the door as soon as you enter, or before you leave.
There should be no reason for you to address the Judge or the Magistrate,
but if this occurs you will need to stand up and wait until he/she addresses
you, and then refer to the Judge or the Magistrate as “Your Honour”. You
should never shout out to the Judge or the Magistrate nor should you behave
inappropriately in their court.
Some hearings are conducted in closed courts. This means that the hearing is
not open to the public. Usually this is signposted in some way. If you are
unsure, check with the bailiff before entry.
Court Report Formatting Guidelines
Your Court Report is not a formal report, nor is it an essay. When you create
your report, simply reproduce each of the questions and type your response
underneath each question neatly and in complete prose (i.e. not in note form
or incomplete sentences). If you are using the Court Report Builder, make
sure you download the document to Word upon completion, double check it
for accuracy, and then submit the word document in the usual way.
Take the Court Report Questions with you to court to take notes. The form is
not your assessment piece – do not hand it in. It is the basis for your Court
Your Court Report assessment piece must be submitted in accordance with
the following guidelines (drawing from the course outline assignment
• Your answers must be appropriately structured and written in
complete paragraphs, not in note form.
• Reproduce the questions and type your answers to each question in 12
point font, using only one side of each page.
• Staple in top left hand corner of page.
• Use A4 size paper and leave at least a 3cm margin. This is the most
useful format for both marking and photocopying.
• Double or one and a half line spacing should be used. Single line
spacing is used for quotes when these are separated and indented.
• Number each page of the assignment.
• No plastic covers or folders unless otherwise notified by your convenor.
The court report is worth 40 marks. The questions on the Court Report attract a
range of marks, and this is noted on the Court Report Question form. These
questions require you to accurately provide information about court processes,
describe the process you observe, and to critically reflect upon the proceeding. It
is expected that you respond to each question accurately and thoughtfully, and
that you use an appropriately academic writing style. The final question (question
12) requires you to use sources to support your response, and these should be
correctly referenced using APA style.