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High Court

In the High Courts of Scotland, criminal trials are heard under solemn procedure (jury trial). Types of crime heard at the High Court include murder and rape trials.

Who’s Who in the Court

Judge

Judges are experienced persons in law and ensure that the law is complied with. They are full-time salaried judges appointed by the Crown. In the High Court it is a Judge that sits ‘on the bench’ (a raised platform in the courtroom).

Clerk of Court

Clerk of CourtThe Clerk of Court calls the cases, records the court proceedings, and advises on court procedures.

Witnesses

WitnessWitnesses can be Crown witnesses (called by the Procurator Fiscal) or defence witnesses (called by the accused, or his/her defence lawyer, also known as his/her defence agent). Witnesses must not enter the courtroom until asked to do so. Your local Witness Service will be able to give you more detailed information on being a witness.

Fiscal (Prosecutor)

Procurator FiscalThe Procurator Fiscal prepares the case against the person charged with the crime. In the High Court it is the Lord Advocate, or one of his/her deputes, who present the case. They decide on whether a case is brought to court based on the amount of evidence and whether it is in the public interest.

Defence Lawyer (also known as Defence Agent)

Defence LawyerCan be either an advocate or a solicitor-advocate who normally represents the accused, although they can represent themselves. If the accused pleads guilty, the defence lawyer can provide background information on their behalf. If pleading not guilty the lawyer defends the accused in court.

Jury

Jury in court roomThe jury is made up of 15 members of the public, chosen at random, to decide on the verdict based on the facts of the case (a jury is used only in trials involving solemn procedure).

Members of the Public

Court - Public GalleryAll courts have public seating areas and are usually open for the public to listen to a trial.  Your local court will advise if individual trials are closed to the public.

Police

Police officerIn most courtrooms there will be at least one police officer.

Court Official (Macer)

Court OfficialThe court officer (known as the Macer in the High Court) escorts the witness in/out of the courtroom and sits nearby whilst evidence is being given.  They also escort the Judge on/off the Bench.

 

Inside a Court

Empty courtroom

Court layouts vary, but you can see a photo and a diagram of a typical court below.

 

High Court2

For legal reasons, we cannot disclose where the accused will be sitting.


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