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SOCIO LEGAL PRACTICE IN SOCIAL WORK SETTINGS
Assessment Two: Report of a Court Visit (worth 40%)
This assessment is designed to provide students with the experience of directly observing the processes of a court or tribunal. Attending court is described by many clients as overwhelming, confusing and alienating. The legal process can be complex and many opportunities for socio-legal interventions can be overlooked. Becoming familiar with how courts operate is really important for socio-legal practitioners. In particular students are expected to demonstrate the ability to identify at their visit, the use of socio-legal interventions and/or points at which such interventions were or may have been, useful.
For this assessment students are required to submit an 1800 word report of a self-directed court visit. Each student is required to attend a minimum half-day sitting at any court of their choice. It is recommended that students choose a court in their local geographic area. The local magistrates courts should have regular domestic violence court days which can be attended and which lend themselves to socio-legal interventions. It is often helpful to speak to the Court Officer or Clerk to find out which court session may be the most appropriate to attend.
After attending court students are expected to:
- Describe the court and the relevant jurisdiction (excluding Children’s Court, which is almost always a closed court)
- Present the nature of the matter(s) being dealt with and discuss the positions/roles of those involved with the presentation of evidence during the proceedings
- Provide a concise analysis of all proceedings in relation to observed and possible socio-legal interventions
In addition to using your reading and relevant lecture material as a guide it may be necessary to seek clarification by asking questions of a court officer or other personnel at the court. As this is an academic assignment you are expected to include relevant literature. Remember, it is important to reference all your sources and include proper in text citations.
The word limit for your assignment in this course is 1,800 words. Please stay within the word limit. One of the skills you are expected to demonstrate is the ability to select material, as well as the ability to express yourself concisely. Failure to do this will result in a low mark. If an assignment is seriously over length, it will not be accepted and will have to be re-submitted in a shorter form attracting a pass grade only.
Criteria for Assessment Marking
- Evidence of research – depth and breadth of sources
- Ability to organise the information and address all of the main issues within the given word length.
- Written expression – the essay needs to be well written, exhibiting appropriate use of language (not colloquial or jargonistic), and providing examples where relevant
- Evidence of analysis – each piece of work needs to critically examine rather than
simply describe the legal processes and socio-legal interventions observed.
MARKING CRITERIA – COURT REPORT
Student No: Name:
| ||Poor||Satisfactory||Good||Very good||Excellent|
|Issues are clearly stated|
|Assessment follows required format|
|Referencing in text|
|PRESENTATION AND WRITTEN EXPRESSION|
|Formatting & Structure|
|Court jurisdiction and matters heard|
and clearly defined
|Analysis of key legal and socio-legal issues is clearly and coherently presented|
are clear and justified
People present in the court room: Magistrate, Defendant/Accused person (boyfriend), Court transcriber, Defence lawyer, Judge’s associate, Prosecutor, Police officer
Court case details:
It is about a relationship. The complainant (a woman) made an application for an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order) against her boyfriend. (Defendant) She made this AVO application because she wants protection as she said that her boyfriend had allegedly abused her both physically and verbally when they were on holiday in Thailand a few months ago.
The defendant’s (boyfriend) lawyer felt that the woman had an ulterior motive for making an AVO application. He felt that she wasn’t actually truly terrified and in fear of her boyfriend trying to abuse her again but she did the application for another reason.
He felt that because this woman was on a visa because she is in a defacto relationship, she did not want her visa to be placed at risk. He felt that if she did not made this AVO, her visa would be placed at some risk. There needs to be some type of family violence order made so that she could secure her current visa and continue staying here.
(more about defacto relationship visa)
The woman and her boyfriend went on a holiday with her boyfriend in Thailand. They had a heated argument when they were in a nightclub in Thailand. Her boyfriend started hurling vulgarities at her and she was very mad. She walked away from him and started dancing and receiving drinks from other guys in the club. Her boyfriend was very furious and jealous and stormed off. That night she returned to the hotel room to sleep and her boyfriend was not at home yet. She just went to bed without him. After a while, her boyfriend came back and he was drunk. They started an argument with his girlfriend. He knelt on the bed sheets and raised his fist and verbally abused her. No one was in the same room, only his 7 years old niece was in the living room. She was terrified and picked up the hotel telephone close to her and threatened to call the reception for help. But she did not managed to speak to anyone on the hotel telephone, as she was too scared at that time to speak. She shouted at her boyfriend demanding him to leave the room and he did. As she was so frightened for her own safety, she sent an email to the police in Sydney in her hotel room in Thailand, at that point her mind was blank and she did not know what should she do exactly, all she felt was fear.
Even though she claimed to be frightened of her boyfriend after he’s abusive behaviours towards her that night. She still was willing to sleep on the same bed and stay in the same hotel room as him throughout their holiday period in Thailand. When they had to change hotels in Thailand they still slept on the same bed and was in the same hotel room. One night he came back very drunk and this made his girlfriend very mad. She was already in bed sleeping and because he was so drunk and was making so much noise she woke up. When he wanted to go under the sheets and sleep on the same bed with her, she did not want that. They started arguing again and she pushed him to the door and told him to get out. She even threw his luggage and belongings out at the hotel corridor. At this point they were just screaming at each other hurling vulgarities once again. Angered, her boyfriend picked up his things and left as what his girlfriend wanted.
Even though the girl was terrified and fearful of her boyfriend after his abusive behaviours, she still tried contacting him and wanting to meet him before she left to go back to Sydney. She messaged him saying that she wanted to see him and they should speak calmly before she left. When she saw him at the hotel stairs, she even chased after him trying to speak to him. But her boyfriend refused to speak to her and just walked away. Before she left Thailand, she even messaged him saying that she will see him in Sydney. But why would you still want to see someone that abused you and you are terrified of?
The defendant’s (boyfriend) lawyer used evidences that he found on her facebook against her point that she was in a state of terror and fear after the abuse in Thailand. He found pictures of her partying in a club after she returned from Thailand and a intimate picture of her with a man on her facebook. She also had a facebook post that stated that she was feeling amused one day. He even found evidence of her being active on her tinder account ( dating app) posting new photos of herself. He felt very suspicious, as it did not seem to him that all her actions after the Thailand trip was something a terrified person would do. One more evidence he used against her was also the fact that she did not made a police report and made an AVO application immediately right after she came back to Sydney and did so only 5 days later. She had even invited a male guy friend over to stay with her in the apartment because she was scared and wanted to feel safe. She made a second police report after she came back one day, after she saw her apartment door wide open, and removalists taking away the furniture and her boyfriend’s belongings. According to her, she was in a state of shock as her boyfriend did not inform her that removalists would be here to take his things. The defendant’s lawyer reason for his client acting in this matter because he was the one that provided the full bond for the apartment and paid for most of the furniture in the apartment and this a apartment both of them stayed in together so he had the rights to come back any time. Plus because she changed he lock and had applied for an AVO against him, he was not allowed to be near her hence he asked removalists to get into his house and collect his belongings. The defendant’s lawyer also pointed out how the girlfriend left the apartment in a filthy state, causing his client to lose a large proportion of the bond. But she insisted that it was the removalists that made the mess and it was not her fault at all.
In the email she wrote in Thailand to the police in Sydney, she stated that her boyfriend had punched her in the head, threw scales at her and glass etc. The police officer that read the email was the same police officer that took her statement and helped her with the AVO application when she made the police report 5 days after she came back from Thailand. According to the police officer the woman had bruises on her hands and she came into the police station teary eyed, crying and distressed and injuries on her arms and face. The defendant’s (boyfriend) lawyer pointed out his suspicion when he realised that the statement of the woman taken at the police station was completely different from what she wrote in the email when she was in Thailand in the hotel room. He pointed out that the police officer was basically just relying on the truth the woman told him. And whether the woman was lying and whether the tears were genuine he would not know. The police officer trusted that her tears were genuine.
After the incident that happened in Thailand, there were no reported violent incidents that happened between the couple. The woman also had no contact with her boyfriend after the AVO application. She only made a police report of a break in (by her boyfriend) to the apartment. And the only time they communicated when he sent her a text message terminating their relationship after the Thailand incident.
In all, the defendant’s (boyfriend) lawyer is insistent that the woman has an ulterior motive of applying for the AVO. She claims that she fears for her safety and well being in the future after being assaulted and verbally abused by her boyfriend. She also felt that her boyfriend is a spiteful person and he would attempt to harm her one day. But the defence lawyer feels otherwise. He felt that she did it purely to keep her visa status and it is shown as she was not really in that much fear being able to live her life partying after the Thailand trip, going out with friends and even having different men around her. She is afraid that after her boyfriend terminated their relationship and moved out from the apartment, her visa maybe ceased.
There was a prosecutor that was in court too. He is a lawyer from the office of the director of public prosecutions. He raised objections when he felt that the defence lawyer was stressing the woman while questioning her and when he disagreed with anything the defence lawyer said. He also questioned the woman in the beginning asking her about the details of the Thailand incident.