Court Clerks are your link to Magistrates and are major contributors to the smooth operation of our Courts.
It is critical to keep court clerks up to date with major changes to the status of your cases. You can do this by phone, fax or email. Doing so will make your life in Court much simpler.
As soon as you know that a hearing needs to be adjourned, or a plea changed, etc make sure the court clerk is informed. Wasted Court hearing time can never be regained, and Magistrates can get frustrated if the cases waiting to be heard have to be deferred.
Magistrates also get frustrated by lawyers who don’t communicate well with court staff. Remember bad reputations are easily acquired, but difficult to shed. For instance if an adjournment is needed contact the court clerk early for a future hearing date and this also allows them time to try to cover the gap with another case.
Occasionally, every lawyer gets a case that seems to lurch from one problem to another and doesn’t seem to get heard. They just clutter the lists and seem to be repeatedly adjourned. When you get one, contact the court clerk who will help you plan a solution. Make sure you give the clerk the whole picture and if the parties really do need an adjournment for 6 months, trust the clerk and tell them why. Magistrates would rather give you a long adjournment for good reason than seeing a case repeatedly appear for adjournment. Remember, every adjournment also affects the Magistrate, the Court’s data processors, security guards, the police, witnesses, you, your client etc.
If you expect to be late for Court, tell the court clerk the matters you have and when you are likely to arrive. If possible the clerk will try to juggle the list and cover for you, but can only do this if they know. Remember that you must apply to the Court for relief - it is an indulgence not a right.
TV/video facilities can be made available in Court for presenting evidence. However, these have to be booked well in advance, so contact the court clerk and let them know your needs.
Remember, the court clerk is there to help you and to make sure the Court runs smoothly. That’s their job.
Remember, once a busy Court starts the court clerk has the difficult job of helping the Magistrate run the Court and to properly deal with all the matters listed for the day. Therefore, it is best to sort out any problems or make the clerk aware of any difficulties prior to Court commencing.
Email or telephone the court clerk regarding adjournments immediately, don’t wait until you get to court.
Hand the Court Clerk a list of your matters and their status, plea of guilty or not guilty, adjournment for hearing or mention, don’t know, before court starts.
When you address the court use names and index numbers to refer to matters,
" your honour the matter of Peter Maxwell Jones at index
number 11. Mr Jones is in custody your honour"
If your client is in custody make the time to interview him/her before court commences. Magistrates take a dim view of those practitioners who ask for a matter to be stood down so they can interview a client who has been in custody for days. It poses list management and security problems.
Use the Adjournment Court to have first appearance adjournments disposed of before 10.00 am. Your client does not lose valuable work time, the Magistrate can deal with hearings promptly and you can be back in your office that much sooner.
Conversations at the Bar Tables are unacceptable. Make the time to talk to police prosecutors before court.
AND above all
Do not stand near the court clerks desk wanting to talk to him/her or seek to look at files once the court has started. This disrupts the clerk and the court.