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LadyA
06-30-2012, 02:34 PM
So I've got to the bit in my WIP where it's the last day in the murder trial of the man suspected of killing seven teen boys (six of them rentboys), and the MC who is sister of victim no 7, has turned up to watch the man get sentenced. He's guilty for all the murders, and gets found guilty by the jury, but I'm not familiar with the procedure in multi-murder trials, so I have a few questions I'd love if you guys could answer:

When the judge asks the jury foreman whether he finds Suspect guilty, does he do it one by one, like "do you find Trevor Jones guilty or not guilty of the murder of William George?", or all of them at once?

Also, how long does the judge wait to give the sentence after the jury foreman has said that the suspect is guilty of all murders? Does he leave the room, or something?

As all victims were raped before they were murdered, is that mentioned, like "Do you find Trevor Jones guilty of the rape and murder of William George?"

Also, while the jury is out, do the people in the public gallery also leave the courtroom, and the victims' and suspect's relations? Are they all out in the same room, or is that considered dangerous in case they all kick off?

And finally, are people allowed to enter the public gallery while the trial is actually going on, like people are talking?

Thank you!

Cath
06-30-2012, 02:47 PM
I don't know the answers, but you might look for reports on the trials of Fred West and Harold Shipman for info on how the UK courts system handled trials of serial killers.

waylander
06-30-2012, 03:23 PM
Also, how long does the judge wait to give the sentence after the jury foreman has said that the suspect is guilty of all murders? Does he leave the room, or something?



It depends. Sentencing may be delayed for example, pending psychiatric report, if there is the possibility that the defendant is mentally ill.

Buffysquirrel
07-01-2012, 06:41 PM
Disclaimer: IANAL and I'm giving these answers from the best of my knowledge and a little searching.

How old is your killer? Are we in England or Wales, or Scotland or NI? I'm going to answer on the basis that the killer is over 21 and we're in England or Wales.

There's a mandatory life sentence for murder so there's no reason not to sentence the convict immediately upon conviction. However, the judge also sets the tariff (ie the minimum term the convict will actually serve before being eligible for parole). I think the tariff is often set at a later date than that on which the life sentence is handed down and it's in setting the tariff that the judge will need the psychiatric reports. Plus, at some stage a decision needs to be made whether to hold this convict in high-security or in a prison hospital like Broadmoor or Rampton.

Tariffs can be whole life, ie the convict will never be eligible for parole and will be expected to die in prison. Whole life tariffs (or orders) have been tested in the ECHR and found not to violate human rights. Serial killers get whole-life tariffs, for obvious reasons.

Once the defendant is convicted and sentenced, the court 'rises' and the defendant gets sent back to the prison in which he's been held during/pending trial. There are cells in court buildings in which defendants remanded in custody are held, and they wait there for the prison van to be ready.

Each offence with which the defendant is charged would be dealt with separately. It's perfectly possible for juries to convict of some offences and acquit when it comes to others so they need to respond on each in turn. So it would be something like, "In the charge of the rape of William George, contrary to section whatever-it-is of the Sexual Offences Act 2006*, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?" Then, "In the charge of the murder of William George, contrary to...." and so on.

In some cases, the prosecution will charge only some of the offences of which the defendant is suspected, as specimen or sample cases. Other charges may 'lie on file'. I don't think Shipman was tried for even half the murders police think he committed.

As far as I know, the public gallery is not cleared when the court rises for the jury to deliberate (although everyone must stand up). However, as their deliberations can carry on for days, people will probably leave of their own accord. In any case, there'll be nothing to see as the judge, lawyers and defendant will all leave the court room. The public will have to leave when the court building closes for the day.

Court buildings are public places, for the most part. Yes, families of defendants and victims can and do mingle.

Anyone can enter the public gallery and at any time during the trial, as far as I know. If there's trouble between the family of the victim(s) and of the defendant, the judge may order the court to be cleared, which means the public must leave. The judge also has the power to hold members of the public in contempt. This can involve a fine or detention--and you can be detained at the judge's pleasure indefinitely, if s/he's demanded you apologise and you refuse.

*Which offence is actually charged may depend on the ages of the victims.

onesecondglance
07-01-2012, 08:10 PM
Tariffs can be whole life, ie the convict will never be eligible for parole and will be expected to die in prison. Whole life tariffs (or orders) have been tested in the ECHR and found not to violate human rights. Serial killers get whole-life tariffs, for obvious reasons.

I'm pretty sure the judge can't set a whole life sentence - the only option is "life", the same as anyone else. However, the Home Secretary can veto the right to parole for any prisoner - and does for several notable persons.

Shakesbear
07-01-2012, 08:10 PM
I think Buffysquirrel has it right.

At the very end after being found guilty does the judge tell the police (?) officers to take the prisoner down? That is down the stairs which are behind the dock into the cell area.

Shakesbear
07-01-2012, 08:21 PM
I'm pretty sure the judge can't set a whole life sentence - the only option is "life", the same as anyone else. However, the Home Secretary can veto the right to parole for any prisoner - and does for several notable persons.

Hmmm I thought there was some controversy over the Home Sec sticking his/her nose into what is essentially a job for the court. The Home Sec is not a judge and may not have any legal training or knowledge. This http://news.sky.com/story/100012/sentencing-powers-ruled-illegal is from 2003 and things may have changed.



Thought this might be of use to the OP.
http://sixthformlaw.info/01_modules/mod1/1_3_penal_system_2_powers/27_powers_murder.htm

Buffysquirrel
07-01-2012, 09:21 PM
It used to be the Home Secretary who set tariffs, and could overrule sentences for life prisoners--I think either that went to ECHR and was overturned or they knew it would be overturned so they changed it. But there have been a lot of changes in recent years and I'm not as current as I'd like to be.

As for Remove the prisoner--do you know, I honestly have no idea? lol

jclarkdawe
07-01-2012, 10:09 PM
When the judge asks the jury foreman whether he finds Suspect guilty, does he do it one by one, like "do you find Trevor Jones guilty or not guilty of the murder of William George?", or all of them at once? Each crime is a separate charge or indictment. You might want to look at the Sandusky case and you'll get a good idea of how multiple charges with multiple victims work. There Sandusky was charged with something like 52 crimes. The judge, prior to sending the case to jury, dismissed several of those crimes, as being unsupported by any evidence. Then the jury decided each of the remaining indictments, deciding in each case whether Sandusky was guilty or not.

Then the jury returns to the courtroom, and the jury foreperson reads the results of each and every indictment, announcing whether Sandusky was guilty or not guilty. I think it took about forty-five minutes to go through the entire list.

During the reading of the verdicts, the jury foreperson and the defendant and his/her attorney are the only ones standing. In some jurisdictions, the prosecutor stands as well. I don't know whether that's the case in England.

Also, how long does the judge wait to give the sentence after the jury foreman has said that the suspect is guilty of all murders? Does he leave the room, or something? If the sentence is a mandatory one, he or she announces it immediately. If it isn't, the judge will wait for a pre-sentence report, unless it is waived by both the prosecution and the defendant, and the judge agrees with it. I see from the other comments there is a dispute whether this has a mandatory sentence.

As all victims were raped before they were murdered, is that mentioned, like "Do you find Trevor Jones guilty of the rape and murder of William George?" The rape is one indictment. The murder is another indictment. There may well be other charges like kidnapping. It depends upon the approach the prosecutor takes.

Also, while the jury is out, do the people in the public gallery also leave the courtroom, and the victims' and suspect's relations? Are they all out in the same room, or is that considered dangerous in case they all kick off? Usually after the jury is charged and dismissed to the jury room to consider the charges, the judge will deal with any procedural issues that might be out there, then will leave the courtroom. At that point, the parties are free to stay or go. Frequently what will happen is that while the jury is out on one case, the judge will hear motions and other non-jury matters while waiting for the verdict.

And finally, are people allowed to enter the public gallery while the trial is actually going on, like people are talking? Yes, but it's like going into church. Quietly, very quietly.

Thank you!

I hadn't realized how subtle the instructions are here dealing with placing someone into custody. It's actually real simple. Assuming the defendant is not in custody prior to the beginning of the case, the place where the defendant is going to be sleeping changes when the judge says, "I hereby remand the defendant into custody." (In the UK, you might use the Royal "We" here. I'm not sure.) This tells the bailiffs that the defendant is not going free. Usually the bailiffs will wait until the judge has left the bench before they cuff and stuff.

But if the situation warrants it, they'll do it immediately. For example, if the defendant responds, "Fuck you! I ain't going." He'll be cuffed and stuff immediately.

Understand that the bailiffs do this all the time and have the procedure down pat.

My experience is with US courts, but at lot of this stuff is not dependent on what funky accent you speak English with.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Buffysquirrel
07-01-2012, 10:25 PM
In the UK, if the defendant is charged with murder, they will have been remanded in custody awaiting trial. I've only actually been in the magistrates' court watching the proceedings, but iirc, the magistrate expressed it as, "You will be remanded...." when speaking to the defendant.

Peter Graham
07-02-2012, 12:57 PM
When the judge asks the jury foreman whether he finds Suspect guilty, does he do it one by one, like "do you find Trevor Jones guilty or not guilty of the murder of William George?", or all of them at once?He (or she) says something like "on the first count on the indictment, being the murder of X on (date), do you find the Defendant guilty or not guilty". Repeat for each charge.


Also, how long does the judge wait to give the sentence after the jury foreman has said that the suspect is guilty of all murders? Does he leave the room, or something?Depends. Murder carries life, but the trial judge sets the tariff (the number of years that must be served before parole can even be considered). Some judges may require sight of psychiatric reports before sentencing, others will announce the life sentence and set the tariff later, others might retire for a bit and come back to set the tariff there and then.


As all victims were raped before they were murdered, is that mentioned, like "Do you find Trevor Jones guilty of the rape and murder of William George?"Only if Defendant was charged with rape and murder. If he was, it's two separate charges, so each one is dealt with separately as above.


Also, while the jury is out, do the people in the public gallery also leave the courtroom, and the victims' and suspect's relations? Are they all out in the same room, or is that considered dangerous in case they all kick off?The court might be cleared, but doesn't have to be. If it is, everyone is chivvied out by the usher after the judge has left and the court is locked up. Alternatively, the judge might even deal with other cases (quick stuff - adjournments, first hearings, PHR's etc) whilst the jury is out. They can be gone from anything from about half an hour to a couple of days, so the defence legal team will decamp to visit the defendant in the cells for a debrief and then head off drink coffee in the foyer or the cafe. Instructing solicitors (or their clerks, as is more usual unless it's a really big case) may be involved in other cases or need to call back to the office, so you'll see plenty of folk standing in corridors trying to get a signal on their mobiles. Prosecutors may head for their room, or may chat with colleagues (both defence and prosecution - it's usually very matey once the judge has gone out). Courts are working environments, so unless it is cleared, you can expect the clerks, ushers, barristers, probation officers and others to be popping in and out even though the judge won't be there. Courts are also full of security guards and police officers waiting to give evidence in other cases or to get warrants sorted. They all have a hotline to the local station, so if anyone kicks off, they can be dealt with in pretty short order. Minor kick-offs whilst the court is in session might get you locked up in the court cells until the end of the session or the day, at which point the judge will probably let you go if you apologise in open court.




And finally, are people allowed to enter the public gallery while the trial is actually going on, like people are talking?Yes. As a general rule, Courts are public forums. You can come and go as you wish. But you do it quietly, unless you fancy a judicial rebuke or a threat of being held in contempt.

Regards,

Peter

LadyA
07-02-2012, 10:45 PM
Wow, thanks everyone for your very helpful advice!
I really want to push on with this draft and I've found a bit of the transcript for the Suffolk Strangler murders to look at as well, so between your advice and that I'll try my best and pop the finished scene up on YA SYW to check it's not too badly done!

LadyA
07-03-2012, 11:08 PM
Here's the scene in SYW: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=248941

Buffysquirrel
07-05-2012, 02:59 PM
Interestingly, the government has just announced that in future it will be the policy of the CPS to charge rape in addition to murder in rape/murder cases, rather than just charging the more serious offence.

Peter Graham
07-05-2012, 04:43 PM
A few things that jumped out at me:-

1. Very few marble walled crown courts that I'm aware of.

2. The families will wait either in the main foyer if it isn't a huge Court, or on benches outside the relevant court room if it is. Or they might be in the caff - the benches are usually uncomfortable and there is nothing to do. If in the foyer, there will be loads of folk milling about who are involved in all the other cases on that day.

3. Unless they are attending as witnesses to give evidence, they wouldn't be met at the door. The security staff would point them in the right direction and if they wanted more specific help, they'd have to collar one of the ushers - easily recognisable in their black batcapes and usually holding clipboards with information about what is happenning where. One usher per court as a general rule.

4. When the jury come back in, they might just see them filing in, unless the jury have a different entrance to the court. The usher would then come out and shout the case name.

5. Defendant would be in the dock, not the witness box. Assuming he's been remanded in custody, he'd have a couple of security guards flanking him. Second he gets potted, one of them would quickly cuff him so he's attached to the guard. He wouldn't be waiting in the dock either - security would have him behind the door linking the court to the corridor /steps down to the cells, and would only bring him in at a nod from the clerk or perhaps the usher. The clerk or usher will give the nod immediately before the Judge comes back in. Judge makes their entrance last, usually, although they don't have to.

6. Each verdict is separate - so the Judge wouldn't say "rape and murder" - it's two charges and two verdicts are necessary.

7. Judge doesn't ask again if they are all agreed.

Court will rise.

Peter

jclarkdawe
07-05-2012, 05:34 PM
Interesting disagreement. My problem with Peter is there's no background on him, while I seen many answers by Buffy and know that they're accurate. I do know that the Crown is less likely to stack charges compared to US courts.

Here I'm wondering if what's going on is that British courts charge the more serious charge, and don't charge the lesser. (And are planning on changing this approach.) Although rape is serious, it's not as serious as the murder charge. In the murder of Sally Anne Bowman, where she appears to have been raped post-mortem, it appears that Mark Dixie was only found guilty of the murder and not charged with the rape. But I don't know if this is the norm.

Personally, if the OP lives in England, I'd head down to my local courthouse, and grab a prosecutor and ask. Print out this thread and your other one and find out who's right. And then let us know.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Peter Graham
07-05-2012, 06:43 PM
Hi JCD


Interesting disagreement. Me and Buffy? No disagreement that I can see!


My problem with Peter is there's no background on him, while I seen many answers by Buffy and know that they're accurate.Which is shorthand for "therefore Peter is more likely to be wrong". Fair enough - I realise I'm a relative newbie and that only experts are supposed to offer opinions in this sub-forum. So if it helps (and not because I'm taking umbrage, 'cos I'm not), I'll put my cards on the virtual table. I've got fifteen years in as a lawyer, specialising for the first ten in criminal defence work. Know the inside of police stations, courts and prisons like the back of my proverbial hand. Dealt with offences in Crown and Magistrates and even the Royal Courts of Justice. Sat through and conducted more trials than one could shake a reasonable sized stick at.

Regards,

Peter

veinglory
07-05-2012, 06:52 PM
How often would a person be tried for multiple murders occurring at different times in one trial? From what i have seen the trial are separate most of the time as just knowing their are multiple alleged crimes can be prejudicial? I suppose it might be different if all the bodies were found in one place making it essentially a single act.

Peter Graham
07-05-2012, 07:25 PM
How often would a person be tried for multiple murders occurring at different times in one trial?

UK answer: It depends. Serial killing is far less common in real life than it is in books, where every second villain is up to their neck in the corpses of the slain. Most murders are domestic in nature - one family member killing another. The next biggest tranche would probably be gang related murders. In the majority of cases, the victim knew their killer.

So, if the Police are investigating Murder A, they will generally see it as a standalone matter unless there is good reason not to do so. As soon as they have sufficient evidence to charge the suspect for Murder A, they will do so.

If they are dealing with a string of apparently related murders and have better evidence against suspect on Murders A, C and E than on B and D, they will probably (although not definitely) charge all five and hope for the best. They shouldn't really, but there is a lot of horsetrading between defence and prosecution teams, so B and D might get chucked out en route. Charge high and you've got negotiating room.

If suspect gets tried for Murder A and five years later evidence emerges that he also committed Murder B, suspect will normally face a fresh trial for B, irrespective of whether he was convicted or acquitted of Murder A.

If suspect has a rare moment of honesty and confesses to Murders B-E whilst under questioning for A only, Police will assume it's an early Christmas present and are likely to charge. However, one or two of our more reality-challenged suspects have a wierd propensity to confess to offences they didn't commit, so the Police would question suspect closely re: B to E first.

Regards,

Peter

jclarkdawe
07-05-2012, 09:32 PM
Hi JCD


Interesting disagreement. Me and Buffy? No disagreement that I can see!

When I woke up and reread this and paid attention, I realized I'd jumped to a conclusion. I thought Buffy was saying that a person accused of murder and rape in England would only receive one charge, to wit, the murder only. On subsequent reading, I discovered Buffy had not said that.

British and US law are so similar, it's always surprising when we come up with major differences.


Which is shorthand for "therefore Peter is more likely to be wrong". Fair enough - I realise I'm a relative newbie and that only experts are supposed to offer opinions in this sub-forum. So if it helps (and not because I'm taking umbrage, 'cos I'm not), I'll put my cards on the virtual table. I've got fifteen years in as a lawyer, specialising for the first ten in criminal defence work. Know the inside of police stations, courts and prisons like the back of my proverbial hand. Dealt with offences in Crown and Magistrates and even the Royal Courts of Justice. Sat through and conducted more trials than one could shake a reasonable sized stick at.

Regards,

Peter

That's nice to know. It's too easy to blow smoke on the internet. About the only criminal defendant group I've never represented was a serial murderer (I can't say I miss not having done this). Had a couple of clients for whom murder was a solution to problems, resulting in multiple murder convictions in their lives, but they weren't really serial murderers. Different mindset.

To the original poster, change your charges to read separate. In other words separate guilty verdicts for the murder and the rape of each victim.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Buffysquirrel
07-06-2012, 03:35 AM
I would definitely defer to Peter. I read a bit about the law and my husband used to prosecute in the Magistrates' courts and has taught law at various levels but IANAL :).

Peter Graham
07-06-2012, 12:27 PM
That's nice to know. It's too easy to blow smoke on the internet.

Totally agreed! I think the criminal law tends to attract more than its fair share of smoke-blowing too, perhaps because crime and police procedure are such massive themes in fiction both in the UK and the US. Certain mistakes tend to get repeated over and over again - when I was a student, we were told that the best way to learn our PACE (the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which arguably brought to an end the...erm... hard-edged policing as depicted in TV programmes like Life on Mars) was to watch TV cop programmes and see how many breaches of the legislation we could count in a half hour episode! I bet you could do something similar over there.

Incidentally, from what I can see, Buffy's advice on these matters is absolutely spot on!

Regards,

Peter

Priene
07-06-2012, 01:30 PM
Certain mistakes tend to get repeated over and over again - when I was a student, we were told that the best way to learn our PACE (the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which arguably brought to an end the...erm... hard-edged policing as depicted in TV programmes like Life on Mars) was to watch TV cop programmes and see how many breaches of the legislation we could count in a half hour episode! I bet you could do something similar over there.


I read an interview with a 1970s policeman who said that The Sweeney had quite an effect on the behaviour of policeman, some of whom started swaggering around like Regan and Carter (not the American Reagan and Carter, obviously). Before that, he said his force had been more sedate. Possibly like Dixon of Dock Green. A case of life imitating art.