Going to Court


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Going to Court

  1. 1. Going toGe they Court
  2. 2. Published: August 2004 National Committee for Families and Children in cooperation with UNICEFText by: Judith Alpuche, MSW Ava Pennill, M.A.Illustrated by: Ernesto Alpuche Jr.Design by: Starla Bradley-Acosta, MSWAcknowledgments: Thank you to the following persons for reviewing the booklet: Ms. Margaret Nicholas, Mr. Herbert Lord, and Mr. Earl Jones.Based on the booklet “Going to Court” by Glasgow School of Art
  3. 3. Going to Court You have been asked to attend court as a witness. If you have not been to court before you might be wondering about who will be there and what will happen. This little book will help you understand. 1. What is a Court?A court is a special place wherepeople go to find out if aperson, usually an adult, hasbroken the law (donesomething bad or wrong).Everybody that is called orsummons to court tells the A court can look like this….person in charge the truthabout something thathappened. This is called a trial.The person in charge of thecourt is called a magistrate orjudge. or this…. 1
  4. 4. 2. Who is a Judge or Magistrate? A magistrate or judge is a person whose job is to listen to what people have to say about something they have seen or heard, or something that has happened to them. The magistrate is the person in charge of the first court that you will attend called the Magistrate The magistrate will make sure that everything is fair. Court. The judge is the person in charge of the second court that you might have to attend called the Supreme Court. Sometimes judges wear special clothing and headdress The judge or magistrate can be a woman or a man. Their job is to make sure that everything is fair and so will listen very carefully to what you have to say. The judge will also make sure everything is fair. 2
  5. 5. 3. What is a witness? 2A witness is a person who goes to court to tell the judge ormagistrate about something that has happened. Lots of childrengo to court to be a witness because of something they have seen orbecause something has happened to them.Being a witness is an important job.When you go to court as a witness you might be asked questionsabout something that is bad or unpleasant but you should not befrightened to tell the judge or magistrate about this. Theyunderstand about these things. They will not think that it is yourfault because you have seen something bad or because somethingbad has happened to you. Being a witness is an important job. 3
  6. 6. 4. What will I have to do? You will be asked questions about what has happened. All you have to do is try to answer them. You must always tell the truth. Just tell the truth.5. What will happen when I go to Court? You will have an adult to keep your company when you come to court. This adult may be your social worker. 4
  7. 7. Social WorkerYou will be asked to sit and wait until it is your turn.You might have to wait for a long time. You can bring acolouring book or a book to read so that you can havesomething to do while you are waiting. Bring a book to read while you wait.Sometimes you may have to come back another day to see themagistrate or judge.When they are ready to listen to you, some people will be askedto leave so that you can have some privacy. You might beasked to sit in a special place to tell the magistrate or judgewhat happened. 5
  8. 8. 6. Who will be in the courtroom? At the Magistrate’s Court you will see the magistrate who may be sitting high up at a big desk. The magistrate’s courtroom may look like this. 6 The Magistrate’s ourtroom may look like this. 6
  9. 9. There will be people called prosecutors who will ask you questions. Sometimes the prosecutors are also police officers and will be dressed in police uniform. There might also be people called lawyers who will ask you questions.Police officer The Judge’s courtroom may look like this. 7
  10. 10. At the Supreme Court you will see a judge sitting high up at a bigdesk. The judge might be wearing special clothes and a headdress.There will also be lawyers who will ask you questions. Theymight also be wearing special clothing. There will be several otherpeople in the courtroom. A person will be sitting and taking notes.A group of people will be sitting together and listening to what ishappening. They are called a jury. The person who might havebroken the law or done something bad may be sitting in thecourtroom as well. The lawyer will ask you questions. 8
  11. 11. 7. What will happen in Court?When you go into the courtroom,you will be shown where to sit untilyou are called. When it is your turn,you will be asked to sit in a specialplace.The magistrate or judge will thenspeak to you and ask questions suchas: your name, how old you are andwhere you go to school. They willalso ask if you know what it meansto tell the truth.It is very important to tell thetruth. People must always tellthe truth in court. It is all rightto tell the judge or magistrate The judge may speak to you.something that is a secret, as longit is true.After the magistrate or judge has spoken to you, you will be askedsome questions by one of the lawyers or a prosecutor. This personhas asked you to come to court and will ask you questions whichwill help you tell what happened to you. After that you will beasked some more questions by another lawyer. 9
  12. 12. These people only want you to tell the truth about what you can remember. If you really can’t remember what happened, just say that you can’t remember. People sometimes forget things and the judge or magistrate understands that. Listen to each question carefully before you give your answer. If you don’t understand a question, you should say so and someone will help you. You should always speak in a loud voice because it is important that the people listening can hear what you have to say. You might be asked to look around the court to see if you can point to somebody. You can take as much time as you want to. You do not have to point to the person right away and you might have to look at a lot people before you see the person. If you see the person you should point to him or her. If you don’t think the person is in the room, you should tell the judge or magistrate.You might be asked to point to somebody. 10
  13. 13. If you have had to wait for a long time or if you are asked a lotof questions you might find that you want to go to thebathroom. Don’t worry about this. If it happens ask the judgeor magistrate if you can go to the bathroom. It would be agood idea to go to the bathroom before you go to thecourtroom. Go to the bathroom before you go to the courtroom.After all the questions have been asked, you will be able toleave the court. You will have done an important job and thejudge or magistrate will be pleased. Then you can go home. 11
  14. 14. For more information, you can contact: The Department of Human Services 2nd. Floor Commercial Center Belize City, Belize Tel: 227-7451 or 227-2057 Fax: 227-1276 12