Roles in court

There are many people involved in the court system. Below is a list of some of the people you might meet if you are required to attend court:

The person against whom a criminal case is brought. Sometimes referred to as the defendant.

Associate Judge (Supreme Court)
The person who generally carries out the judicial function of hearing and determining issues which arise before and after trial in civil cases. Associate Judges do not hear trials.

A legal advocate who is briefed by a solicitor to present the defence or prosecution case in court.

Bench clerk (Magistrates', Coroners and Children's Court)
Sits near the magistrate or coroner, and announces the cases and calls people into court. The bench clerk will direct people where to stand, read the charges out in a criminal proceeding and administer the oath or affirmation to witnesses.

Defence Solicitor or Duty Solicitor
The person who represents the accused in court. If the accused does not have a solicitor, they may be entitled to representation by a duty solicitor.

In criminal cases, this is the police officer who charged the defendant. In coronial inquests, this is the police officer who investigated on behalf of the coroner. In some cases, the informant is a council officer or other government official.

The person who hears cases and makes decisions in the County Court and Supreme Court. If a judge and a jury hear the case, the judge will be responsible for directing the jury about the law. If the accused is found guilty, the judge will impose the sentence.

In Victoria, the State Coroner is also a judge. When you speak to a judge, you should address them as 'Your Honour'.

Judge's Associate (Supreme, County and Coroners Courts)
Performs various administrative and court duties to assist the judge. These duties may include completing paperwork, liaising with parties, keeping a record of court proceedings, and taking verdicts or findings in coronial hearings.

The person who hears cases and makes decisions in the Magistrates' Court and Children's Court. They decide what happens to a case, whether a case will have to go to another court or be put off until another day, whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty, and any penalty that will be given to the defendant. Some coroners are also magistrates.

When you speak to a magistrate or coroner, you should address them as 'Your Honour'.

Plaintiff, complainant or applicant
The person who initiates the case in a non-criminal (civil) matter.

The person who appears in court to present the case against the defendant in a criminal hearing. Cases in the Magistrates' Court and Children's Court are usually prosecuted by a police officer. Cases in the higher courts are usually prosecuted by the Office of Public Prosecutions.

The manager/administrator of the court. It will be a registrar or deputy registrar (or member of the registry staff) who will assist you at a court counter.

The person against whom a civil case is brought.

Tipstaff (Supreme and County Courts)
Announces that the court is in session and administers oaths or affirmations to witnesses. An important duty of the tipstaff is to look after the jury. He or she escorts jury members into the courtroom and into the jury room, and deals with any practical matters for the jury.

This page was last updated: Wednesday 10 May 2017 - 12:03pm