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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78740 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Trial and the Disruptive Defendant, Part One
Journal: Modern Law Review  Volume:43  Issue:2  Dated:(March 1980)  Pages:121-135
Author(s): G Zellick
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 15
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The progression of approaches that may be used to restrain or silence a disruptive defendant in a British court are discussed.
Abstract: Although incidents of defendants disrupting trials are relatively rare in the United Kingdom, they do occur with sufficient frequency to warrant discussion of the approaches that may be used in handling such incidents. If the defendant fails to plead or answer directly to the indictment at the arraignment, a jury must be impanelled to determine whether the defendant is mute from malice or a physical disability. A defendant who fails to enter a plea and clearly has the capacity for speech and rational judgment will have a plea of 'not guilty' entered without a jury's determination. During the course of the trial, unless the defendant's first act of misconduct is especially serious, nothing more than a clear and firm warning, pointing out the possible consequences of the continuation of such behavior, is indicated. Sometimes a short adjournment may be useful to give the defendant a few minutes to reflect on the matter. In some cases, the defendant may be disorderly to influence court spectators rather than to obstruct the trial. Under this circumstance, the removal of spectators from the courtroom is permissible; however, this may not be advisable where the trial and its proper conduct is of significant interest to the public. The magistrates' lack of power to punish for contempt of court is generally accepted, but the Queen's Bench Divisional Court can punish contempts committed in a magistrates' court by virtue of its inherent supervisory jurisdiction over inferior tribunals. The magistrates may, however, bind over an accused who disrupts court proceedings. Physical restraint or removal of the accused from the courtroom during the trial are options if all other approaches have failed. Removal from the courtroom is to be preferred to physical restraint, since the jury's observation of the restraint may either win sympathy for the defendant or foster the presumption of guilt. A total of 99 footnotes are listed. For the second part of this article, see NCJ 78741.
Index Term(s): Contempt of court; Court rules; United Kingdom (UK)
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