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There is a large group of people involved in a functioning court system, although only a few may be commonly known by the public. There are 14 separate roles that make a court function properly¹:

  • The accused is the person with a criminal case brought against them. Sometimes this person is referred to as the defendant.
  • The associate judge (of the Supreme Court) carries out the judicial function of hearings. He/she also determines issues which arise before an after trial, but he/she does not hear trials.
  • A barrister is the legal advocate, briefed by a solicitor to present the defence of prosecution case in court.
  • A bench clerk's physical position is near the magistrate or coroner. He/she announces cases and calls people into court. The bench clerk directs individuals on where to stand, reads the charges, and administers the oath or affirmation to witnesses.
  • The defence solicitor (or duty solicitor) represents the accused in court.
  • The informant, in criminal cases, is the police officer responsible for charging the defendant. In coronial inquests, this is the officer who investigated on behalf of the coroner. In other cases, the informant is a council officer or another government official.
  • The judge is the individual who hears cases and makes decision in the County Court and Supreme Court. The judge is responsible for directing the jury about the law. The judge will impose the sentence if the accused is found guilty. 'Your Honour' is the proper way to address a judge in court.
  • The judge's associate performs various administrative and court duties to assist the judge. Duties may included completing paperwork, liaising with parties, keeping a record of court proceedings, and taking verdicts or findings in coronial hearings.
  • The magistrate is the person who hears cases and makes decisions in the Magistrates' Court and Children's Court. They decide is cases should go to another court or be put off until another day. They also decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty, as well as the penalty.
  • The plaintiff is the individual who initiates the case in a non-criminal (civil) manner.
  • The prosecutor is the person who appears in court to present the case against the defendant in a criminal hearing.
  • The registrar manages the court. It will be a registrar or deputy registrar who will assist you at a court counter.
  • A respondent is the person against whom a civil case is brought.
  • Tipstaff announces when the court is in session, administers oaths or affirmations to witnesses. The tipstaff look after the jury.



Image source:

1. Wikimedia


1. Courts & Tribunals Victoria. Roles in court. Retrieved May 12, 2014, from

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