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You can take notes, you can't take notes?

You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby Russell » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:50 pm

Whist recently in court I requested that the hearing be recorded as I have a memory problem. Despite my best efforts the court would not deal with this issue until to the day of the hearing. On discussing the issue with my Barrister the Judge asked if I could take notes, to which he replied 'yes'. This was a lie as myself and the Barrister had never discussed this. Further, a medical report states that I would have problems making notes. As well as my reasonable adjustment application stating this.

Anyway, making notes was the only option available to me at the time due to this. However, when I got into the witness stand I was informed that I cannot take notes. So I explained that I was marking down what I was going to say next before I forgot it, which the judge allowed. However, it appears I was not allowed to make general notes on the case as had been agreed as a reasonable adjustment.

What are your thoughts on this? Also, why are witnesses not allowed to take notes? What harm could that do?
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby atticus » Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:15 pm

Witnesses are in the witness box to give evidence, not to work out what they ought to be saying.

This does not relate to time spent in the courtroom but not in the witness box.
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby Russell » Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:07 pm

So basically you should be prepared, the judge doesn't want to sit there while you plan your defense?
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby atticus » Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:46 pm

Planning your defence (with a c), or the conduct of the claim if you are claimant, should have taken place well before you leave home to go to Court.
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby miner » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:41 pm

Russell wrote:Whist recently in court I requested that the hearing be recorded as I have a memory problem.


That, to my mind, was a perfectly reasonable request and should have been granted, without leaving it to the day of the hearing for action.

The Court has a responsibility to deal with you fairly, and it strikes me, based on your statements, that the Court did not treat you fairly. That, to my mind, means that you were denied your fundamental Human Right to fair treatment.

If I have understood the facts correctly, your barrister did not do his job properly and failed to represent your interests properly. Remember, you instruct the barrister, not vice versa as so many arrogant and incompetent barristers seem to assume.

I can understand that making notes whilst giving evidence may not normally be permitted, but given that you have indicated that you have a medical issue as you describe, it is up to the bloody Court to ensure that it makes the necessary adjustments to procedure to ensure that you are treated fairly and if your barrister was doing a proper job, he'd have ensured that you were treated fairly.
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby Russell » Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:41 pm

Miner thank you for acknowledging what a shambles this was.

The Judge actually refused the request because "Using recording equipment could interfere with the courts own recording equipment." I've researched this and a recording device couldn't do this, it would not normally transmit anything. Further, if this were the case the court could have pre-arranged that a suitable device be used. Or even that I'm given a digital copy of the court recording, it was actually needed for the break between day 1 and 2. If I were deaf it would be an automatic process that an auxiliary aid is provided. However, clearly the court don't like people having recording of the legal process. I wonder why?
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby atticus » Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:04 pm

There are notices in all court buildings referring to some section of some Act or other..

Anyway, you don't want to record every last word. You want to catch the key points. Transcripts are long and boring.
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby Slartibartfast » Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:13 pm

Russell wrote:If I were deaf it would be an automatic process that an auxiliary aid is provided.

You think that a deaf witness would be provided with an auxiliary aid which recorded their own evidence as they gave it? For their own personal reference? That seems unlikely to me. Any disability aid would be for the function of helping the witness answer questions in real-time.

As Attie says above, there is no need for a witness to have a strategy or plan. The witness's task is to simply answer each question directly and honestly, and I cannot see how a recording device would help to do that.

Russell wrote:However, clearly the court don't like people having recording of the legal process. I wonder why?

Imagine multiple participants making DIY recordings and then editing them, there would be never-ending arguments about what word was actually said at 13.23.46hrs, by whom. The interests of justice are better met by having one official & definitive recording. For similar reasons courts will happily supply a copy of the official transcript (for a fee) but they won't usually release the audio recording it is based upon.
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:46 pm

IIRC witnesses are sometimes permitted to refresh their memories from contemporaneous notes (that is, notes taken at the time of whatever it is they're giving evidence about, like a Police Officer being allowed to refer to his notebook), but other than that, it makes sense for witnesses not to have notes - it's about answering the questions you've been asked, not reading out stuff you've plotted earlier.

Suppose your barrister had wanted to prove that two of the other side's witnesses couldn't have seen what they claimed to have seen, because their accounts didn't tally. You'd be pretty cheesed off if they were allowed to have crib sheets.
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Re: You can take notes, you can't take notes?

Postby dls » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:55 am

Russell,
You describe the fact that your barrister answered 'yes' when asked if you were capable of taking notes as a lie, but then complain that you were not allowed to take notes while giving evidence.
Your characterisation of the barrister would appear neither deserved nor accurate.
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