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Magistrates Court of Western Australia
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Technical Information

The courtrooms in which the Magistrates Court sits are equipped with technology designed to facilitate the presentation of evidence in a manner that enhances the quality of justice delivered by the Court and the efficiency with which the Court is able to do so.

The practices described herein relate primarily to Central Law Courts (CLC) Perth. For practices relating to other metropolitan and regional courts enquiries should be made with the court location where the trial is being held.

Video and audio material

All courtrooms in which the Magistrates Court sits have a DVD-Video (MPEG2 format) disk player and a VHS tape player. The DVD player can also play both standard audio CDs and MP3 audio files.

Audio or video material that was not originally recorded in format listed above, should be re-recorded (by the practitioner/prosecutor) into one of these formats. An example may be video surveillance footage or the recording of a telephone intercept originally stored on a computer hard drive. The reason for the re- recording onto one of the above formats is to ensure the relevant material can be viewed in the course of the trial, by a Magistrate in chambers and on appeal.

From time to time when practitioners in a trial have sought to play an audio recording on a CD or DVD disc, the sound produced has been barely audible in the courtroom.  The reason for this is related to the sound level on the recording being at a lower than usual audio level (for example, a recording of a telephone intercept). Parties are required to check the audio levels of any recording to be played in court. If the recording is quiet, then parties are required to ascertain from the source of the recording whether the recording level can be improved and then make arrangements to test whether the recording will be audible when played on the court's audio systems.

Testing arrangements can be made by contacting the court location where the trial is being held.

Laptops/Notebook Computers

Parties to a matter (including the practitioner/prosecutor) may wish to use their own laptop or notebook computer to present evidence to the Court so as to control the presentation. The evidence must be copied onto a disk so that it can be tendered to the court as an exhibit and it must also be in a format that can be replayed by the Court.

There are many courtrooms in the CLC in which practitioners can connect their laptop into the courtroom audio visual presentation system (court AV system). The same capability currently exists in some other metropolitan and regional courtrooms.

Where this capability exists, the courtrooms have an analogue 15 pin female socket in place (commonly called a VGA socket) ready for connection to a laptop. And the court will provide a lead to connect the laptop to the socket. If audio is required, the court will provide a lead to connect the laptop to a 'female' 3.5mm audio socket.

Practitioners wishing to use their laptop to present evidence should test the connections prior to the day of the sitting.

Testing arrangements can be made by contacting the court location where the trial is being held.

Document cameras

Many of the CLC courtrooms and some metropolitan and regional courts are also equipped with a document camera. This can be used by the parties to display objects, for example a weapon, or documents to all participants in the Court.

Parties wishing to use the document camera should test the system before the commencement of the sitting.

Testing arrangements can be made by contacting the court location where the trial is being held.

Photos

The Court's preference is for photos to be presented in print format. This way, the printed photo is tendered as the exhibit.

Printed photos can be displayed in Court rooms on a document camera. If a party wishes to present images in electronic format, they should arrange for the photos to be displayed though their laptop/ notebook computer on the counsel bench connected to the court AV system.

Printed photos should also be made ready to be tendered, and so become the exhibit. Each photograph should be marked for identification with a unique identification number. This is to ensure that the relevant exhibit can be subsequently identified from the transcript.

CCTV, Video and Audio Conferences

Many CLC, metropolitan and regional courtrooms are equipped with audio and video conference capabilities, including remote witness rooms.

Other modes of presentation

Where a party wants to present evidence in a format other than those set out above, they are responsible for making all arrangements to facilitate the presentation of that evidence. The evidence must be copied onto a disk so that it can be tendered to the Court as an exhibit and it must also be in a format that can be replayed by the Court.

The party should contact the court at least 14 days before the commencement of the trial in order to discuss the proposed arrangements and arrange a time at which the party can attend court and test the proposed mode of presentation.

eTrials

There are three courtrooms in the CLC equipped for conducting eTrials.

An eTrial will typically involve:

  • All exhibits and potential exhibits being scanned and entered into the Court's eTrial database.
  • Linking of documents within the database, for example witness statements and transcripts.
  • Presentation of documents in an electronic format.

The Magistrates Courts have adopted an approach common with higher courts with respect to eTrials. Details are set out in the document titled "Technical Guide for Preparing and Submitting Documents for eTrials".

Practitioners wishing to conduct an eTrial should seek a directions hearing at which specific orders can be made for the trial to be an eTrial. In a Magistrates Court criminal trial, the application for a directions hearing should be made as soon as possible after the plea of not guilty is entered and before the matter is listed for trial.

In a civil trial, the parties should confer as to when to seek specific trial directions. In some cases, it may make sense for the discovery to be undertaken electronically to facilitate the trial being an eTrial. At the very latest, the application for specific directions for the eTrial should be made at the first listing conference. It is likely that the Court would allocate the trial Magistrate shortly after the listing conference with the intent that the trial Magistrate will manage the pre-trial processes and subsequent directions.

Last updated: 25-Jul-2013

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