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Court Observation

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Submitted By lailam77
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Court Observation Report
Prosecutor: Sgt. Glover, ID: GV117, Detachment: 488, Vancouver Police Department
Vs.
Dependant: Mr. Ma W. Yun File #: AH66110504
Vancouver Provincial Court
Room 201
800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC
January 14th 2013
Start time 13:30 a.m. – Adjured 13:57 a.m.

Summary of Facts
Mr. Ma W. Yun was prosecuted for Trans-link ticket fraud. On November 8th 2012, Ma was caught boarding the sky strain at Broadway Station without purchasing a ticket. A police officer charged on Ma for failing to show a valid ticket.
Plaintiff’s Argument
The prosecution, Sgt. Glover, presented the crown case that Ma using public transit without producing the ticket when requested. Therefore, he suggested Ma to be fined.
Defendant’s Argument
Ma pleaded guilty with an explanation to the court that he was a student at Simon Fraser University. He had U-pass in his wallet, which he forgot at home. When he was caught, he told the officer that he forgot his wallet with the U-pass. He promised to present it and his identification to the officer within one hour. The officer took Ma’s information and let him go. Ma went home and came back with his wallet, identification, and U-pass showed to the officer. However, he was told that he still had to appear in court. In his argument, Ma mentioned to the Judge two facts which can suggest that he was not dishonest. That was at the time he was charged, he did not have any identification at all thus he did not lie the officer about his personal information; he came back with identification and U-pass to show his honest mistake. This was also Ma’s first violation according to the police record.
Decision and Reason for Decision
The Judge asked Ma how he supported himself as a fulltime student. Ma claimed that he was fully supported by his single working mother. The Judge made a small speech while delivering the sentence. He stated that he did not want to order any fine since Ma appeared to be honest about his mistake, and he did not want to put more burden on the shoulders of Ma’s mother, who is innocent in this matter. However, the Judge asked Ma to promise that he will never appear in court again. After Ma made his promise, the Judge ordered Ma to submit a three hundred word essay within two days on topic: “The importance of being honest when using public transit” and then to be in probation for three months by carrying a valid ticket or pass at all time while using public transit.
This case adjourned at 13:57 AM.
On the 14th of January 2013, I completed my courtroom observation at Robson Square Provincial Court, which located on 800 Hornby Street, Vancouver. The proceeding I chose to observe was listed in front of small claim courtroom 201, and the case was a transit fare violation. There were some good and bad impressions on the security, the courtroom, the proceeding, the role of the judge, the plaintiff, and the dependant.
Upon arriving, I was surprised that there was no security around as I expected. There were neither weapon detectors nor checkpoints. I was freely wandering around outside from one courtroom to another to check on the lists they posted in front of the rooms. I entered room 201 in the middle of the proceeding without being questioned.
The courtroom was unusually organized. It was not like any other government offices that I saw. Its layout was to create a solemn for the judge I assumed. The judge’s bench was elevated high about three feet above the floor. The stand for plaintiff or dependant was placed right in front of the judge at the floor level. There were two tables on both sides of the stand at the same level; one for plaintiff and one for dependant. Each table had two chairs. Right behind those tables was a fence with small gate. Behind the fence are benches for observers. All furniture in the courtroom was made of wood. It was a small courtroom which I feel less impressive about it. However, it was just half-full while I was there.
The proceeding seemed to be first come first serve and flexible. All cases were scheduled at the same starting time on the list. Whoever there first got to be heard by the judge first. The case I chose took just under thirty minutes to be completed. It was impressive to witness in person how the justice system works.
The judge was calm and patient. He seemed to have everything in his court room well under control. In his comments, he showed sympathy to dependants’ situation. However, in some occasions, he was seen mumbling something (to himself, I assumed). He got the proceedings gone forward smoothly.
The police officer was the less impressive litigant in the courtroom during my observation. He was speaking just a few sentences and that was it. He sat down and listened to the judge and Ma’s conversations. There was nothing else to talk about him.
The dependant, Ma, appeared to be sincere and honest. He showed happiness when leaving the room after the judge commented on his case and sentenced him without any fines.
I had no enough knowledge to comment on how the process could be improved. However, I had concerns about safety issues there. Although there were police officers there in the courtroom acting as prosecutors, but it could be too late if some dependant pulled out a gun or guns and started shooting around. I strongly suggested that weapon detectors should be put up at the doors.
I did not understand why the police dragged this $2.25 case to court. Especially, dependant already proved his mistake was honest. It could be that I was not at some level to understand how the justice system works yet, but I was sure I had an ideal how much was the cost of this proceeding. I heard that the costs were covered by tax money. If it was true, I felt violated because I have been a tax payer for the last many years.

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