People in Court
People in the courtroom have specific jobs to do. Understanding those jobs can help you understand what is happening.
Lawyers hired by the government to prosecute criminal cases are called Crown Prosecutors. They present the evidence against the person charged with a crime to try to convince the judge or jury that the person is guilty. They do not work for any of the people involved in the case. They are required to present the case fairly.
Other lawyers may be in the courtroom to represent different people involved in the case. A lawyer who represents a person charged with a crime is known as a defence lawyer. Lawyers present evidence to the court to help their client tell their side of the situation.
A person charged with a crime is known as the accused or the defendant. They may have a lawyer to present their side of the case to the judge or jury.
Plaintiff & Defendant
If it is not a criminal court case, the person who alleges that something wrong has been done is usually called the Plaintiff. The person accused of having done wrong is usually called the Defendant.
Petitioner & Respondent
In family law cases, dealing with things like divorce, parenting or financial support, the person who starts the case is called the Petitioner. The other party is called the Respondent.
Justice of the Peace
Justices of the Peace are Saskatchewan justice officials who do things like issuing arrest or search warrants. Sometimes, at an early stage of a criminal court case, an accused person appears before a Justice of the Peace instead of a judge. However, Justices of the Peace do not conduct criminal trials or sentence people.
The judge oversees the trial to ensure everyone is treated fairly and has a chance to tell their side of the story. The judge decides how the law applies to the case being tried.
In some cases there will be a jury as well as a judge. Juries are made up of regular people from the community. When a jury is needed, the Sheriff calls a number of randomly selected people to court. The lawyers representing the two sides choose the jury from these people.
The judge explains the law to the jury. At the end of the trial, the jury leaves the courtroom and meets to decide on the outcome of the case. These meetings are secret. If it is a criminal case all jury members must agree for someone to be found guilty.
Other people work in the courtroom. The clerk of the court helps the judge, announces when the proceedings begin and end, and records the evidence exhibits. If an accused person or a witness is in custody, the deputy sheriff goes with them to court. The deputy sheriff also helps to maintain order in the court.