Episode 30: 'I swear to tell the whole truth’ - PART 4
Author: Eoghan Colgan @eoghan_colgan
Special Guests: Sheriff Andrew Cubie, Dr David Parratt QC, Moira Orr (Procurator Fiscal)
SHERIFF ANDREW CUBIE
Sheriff Andrew Cubie graduated with a First Class Honours degree from the University of Glasgow. He was a solicitor in private practice in Glasgow from 1987, specialising in civil court work, with emphasis on family law. He was appointed as a Temporary sheriff from 1997-1999. He was admitted as a Solicitor Advocate with rights of audience in the Court of Session in 2001. During his time in private practice he taught civil procedure at Strathclyde University and the Glasgow Graduate School of Law. He devised and taught an in-house course for the Scottish Legal Aid Board.
Sheriff Cubie was appointed as a permanent Sheriff from 2003. Initially an all- Scotland Floating Sheriff, he was a resident Sheriff at Stirling from December 2004 to June 2010 when he moved to be one of the resident Sheriffs at Glasgow Sheriff Court. He has contributed regularly to judicial training and has lectured to, amongst others, local faculties, reporters to the children’s panel and medical professionals. He sits on the council of the Sheriffs’ Association and on the UK Judicial Pensions Committee. He has contributed articles to a number of publications including Scots Law Times, Scottish Criminal Law and Benchmark, the newsletter of the Judiciary of England and Wales. He contributed to MacPhail on Sheriff Court Practice in 2006. InSeptember 2010 his textbook on “Scots Criminal Law” was published.
Dr David Parratt QC
David has a wide ranging practice covering many different aspects of civil law. He is particularly strong in the areas of land law construction, trust work, general commercial work and contract.
He has a keen interest in international commercial arbitration and has practical experience of various forms of alternative dispute resolution including arbitration, adjudication and mediation. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), holds Chartered Status and is a Board Member of the Faculty's Dispute Resolution Service.
He has lectured in Arbitration in the Universities of Dundee, Dubai and Aberdeen and is peer appointed as an arbitrator onto many international panels.
David has prosecuted in the High Court of Justiciary, appeared in Outer House and led as counsel in the Inner House. He has also appeared before the Sheriff Courts, before the sheriffs principal, the Scottish Land Court and the Scottish Lands Tribunal.
David also has rights of audience in other jurisdictions having called to the English Bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 2009 where he is a member of Crown Office Chambers as well as the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2016.
Since 2012, he has held the position of Director of Training and Education, being responsible for the training of intrants on the Faculty's 9 month training programme.
Procurator Fiscal, Glasgow
This is the fourth in a multi-part series on the interface between healthcare and the legal system. We aim to cover all the main essentials including:
the structure of the legal system
how to provide statements and prepare for court
conduct within court (and what to expect)
We have 3 incredible guests giving expert advice for health professionals called to court.
This episode covers preparation for court, what will happen when you arrive, what to expect inside the court and some recommendations on court behaviour.
Take Home Points
PRior to attending court
be ‘smart’ (shirt and tie for men)
Contact the court prior to travelling (perhaps the day before)
to ensure trial taking place and you are still required
Aim to arrive in good time
there can be issues parking etc (allow for this)
Arriving at court
The building can be quite austere
After walking through front door you will have to go through airport-style security (bags checked etc)
these can be busy first thing in the morning so allow extra time for this
Then approach the reception desk and make yourself known to them
You will be shown where witness room is or taken there by a member of staff
there are typically separate witnesses rooms for ‘civilian’ and ‘professional’ witness
The lawyer will likely come in to witness room to introduce themselves and update you on the timings
Witness rooms can be sparse so bring a book or computer
You can request to see your notes in the waiting room
a copy will be made available unless the current witness is using them (another medical professional)
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
A ‘bar officer’ (Sheriff’s Court) or ‘macer’ (High Court) will show you into the court when you are required to give evidence
they can look after your belongings whilst you are giving evidence
The room itself is quite intimidating - be prepared for that
it is designed to be intimidating
You will be shown into the witness box
Remain standing and await direction by the Judge
you may be given the option to sit
if you require to be seated just let the judge know at the beginning
They will likely start with the oath or affirmation
affirmation is generally chosen by people without religious beliefs but anyone can do so
they both have equal significance in law
THE COURT ROOM
Courts come in various styles
high-courts tend to be large, old and austere and imposing
sheriff courts tend to be more modern in appearance
Witness box tends to face the jury (15 people in Scotland)
Judge will be on an elevated bench
they wear a gown and wig to represent the solemnity of the occasion
a short-bottomed wig with bob-taels at the back
In the High Court they wear a Red robe with silky white mantle (with red crosses on it)
In some children cases (or civil cases) they are increasingly wearing suits to remove some of the formality
The well of the court is the lower part of the room where the legal teams sit around a table
prosecution is always to the right of the judge
defence teams are to the left
in cases with multiple accused, they may each have representatives, so there could be up to about 10 people in the well at one time
Solicitors or solicitor advocates (high court) will wear black gowns and no wigs
Senior and Junior Counsel (advocates)
Male Junior: black gown, tailcoat and waistcoat, with white bow-tie (in scotland)
Female Junior: black gown with smart, dark suit
Queens Counsel: special silk gown which is different shape and square at the back
they wear a ‘fall’ - white material that drapes from the neck
The accused will always be present and sat facing the judge, typically between a security team
All courts are open to the public and press
the number of people depends on the nature of and notoriety of the case
You are playing just a little piece of a big jigsaw
you will not be told why you are there or any background to your testimony
How to speak in court
Addressing a Judge:
In a Sheriff and High Court:
A male judge is addressed as ‘My Lord’, and a female judge as ‘My Lady’
In a Justice of the Peace Court - it is ‘Your Honour’
Your evidence will be taken from you in three ways:
Evidence in Chief: the team that brought you to court will ask you questions first (typically the prosecution)
Cross-Examination: your evidence will be tested by the opposing legal team (typically the defence)
tested for reliability (how much you can remember) and credibility (are you telling the truth)
Re-Examination: first person has a chance to clarify anything that arose in the cross-examination
Responding to questions:
During evidence in Chief it might be appropriate to answer the person asking the questions but be aware of the decision-makers (the judge and jury).
Think of it like a triangle.
You can make some glances towards them
During Cross-examination it may be better to answer to the judge or jury
Address the Judge specifically if they ask you a question or if you do not understand a question or do not feel comfortable answering a question