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20-8-2016 8:59 pm  #1


Update on closing statements

It is no secret that magistrates courts do not work the same in all areas. So long as certain legal procedures are observed, the mags can run their courts as they see fit. One aspect of this is that in some courts the Clerks seem to display more power than others. An over officious clerk will frequently interrupt you and can disrupt your case. This often happens with our members. Other than appealing to the bench to be allowed to present your case in full, there is little you can do. But if you do complain to the bench, do so with caution and respect or you may be in contempt.

In one recent case we followed this up by way of complaint. The reply was disturbing. With regard to the closing statement the person was stopped by the clerk. The reply stated that the closing statement was for summing up of the evidence disclosed in court (under cross-examination) and nothing further could be added to the summary.

I am not a legal professional but have several years experience of attending court mainly in licensing matters. This reply totally flies in the face of my experience. There have been cases where I have chosen not to cross examine the witness(es) but have still been allowed (expected even) to make a closing statement.

In view of this I would suggest anyone with a case coming up proceeds with caution regarding their closing statement. I would suggest anything you intend to put in your summary should if possible be discussed under cross examination or at least be referred to in some way.


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