In my last post, I wrote about the volunteering work I’ve started doing with Trading Standards and last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend court.
My job was to write notes which would later be used in a press release so, having never been to court before, naturally I was pretty nervous. I’d made sure to dress the part and try and look serious so no one would suspect my inexperience! Whether my efforts were appreciated or not, I don’t know, but I personally found the whole experience fascinating and super exciting. It felt good to pretend to be important.
Before we went to the trial, two colleagues and I went out to lunch, which resulted in a hurried walk/run through the streets of Lincoln in uncomfortable office clothes whilst facing near misses with cars and a desperate decision to make when the railway barriers started to come down. Luckily, we made it to court with two minutes to spare to get through security and introduce ourselves – and then a two-hour wait for previous trials to finish.
A two-hour wait might be an unwelcome inconvenience to the hardened court visitor, but new to the world of real legal proceedings, I found it endlessly interesting. Once at the beginning of the wait, and once just before the trial, we sat with Trading Standards’ solicitor to discuss the case. This is possibly something I should have already known happens, but I didn’t, and it was so interesting just to live through the process. Obviously I can’t write here about the details of the case, so I have to leave all the really interesting bits out, but the process in itself is a great experience. Anyone can go to court as an observer, so I really recommend trying something like this.
In this wait before the trial I was also able to observe all the different kinds of people at court – official people discussing other cases, official people here for the same case as me (were they prosecuting or defending?? – turns out the person I saw was an interpreter), regular people attending court for reasons I’d never know, and court staff always looking busy. The two-hour wait passed in no time as I gradually started to feel more at ease with what court feels like, and then it was time to go in…
I couldn’t really say whether the court room was as I’d expected, I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting, but it did all feel very official and I was ever afraid of making a noise. According to my colleague, she’d never been in a room like this one, so I guess there is still more to see. This particular trial was heard by a bench so there are still all kinds of different types of trials to see in addition to this one.
The trial started with an estimate of the time it was expected to take and due to the delay earlier in the day, it was now coming to the end of the working day, so for the defendant to receive a fair trial, court was adjourned. I did get to see a few matters solved that day, but the majority of the trial will be next week instead. This is no disappointment to me, because last week’s trial was at the Magistrate’s Court, and next week may be at the Crown Court! Either way, I will get to see more different things at court! More than anything, I think this experience is enhancing my confidence in a fancy, important setting like court, which I am more than excited to carry with me into my future endeavours.