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It’s Off to Court

Today, I headed to district court to see two Ministry of Fisheries prosecutors in action.  When I got to the court, there were so many people around along with news crews and lawyers.  All the lawyers had suitcases which were probably for the exhibits in their cases.  I met the prosecutors and they introduced me to the 3 fishery officers that are witnesses in the case.  After, I sat and talked to the fishery officer about what the trial was about while the prosecutors continued preparing.  The case was about the possession of undersize paua and excess paua along with obstruction charges against two defendants – a son and father.  When the judge came in, everyone stood.  Unfortunately, the defendants didn’t show up – one was in jail for another charge and the prosecutors weren’t notified so they didn’t get the order to bring him to court. The other defendant, the son, didn’t show up probably since his dad wasn’t going.  The judge decided to set a trial date to determine the court hearing date with the both of them.  After this ruling along with several orders to ensure the defendants show up at the next court date, the hearing ended and we stood as the judge left the room. 

This was a great experience!  I haven’t been in a court room since the Supreme Court came to VLS in March 2009.  Even then, I hadn’t seen a district court case in the US so this was something very new and exciting to watch and be a part of.  I learned from the prosecutors that defendants don’t show up quite a bit.   If the defendant’s don’t show up, it just seems like a waste of time for everyone especially when no one in the room could do anything about the situation since they weren’t notified that he was in jail.  I’m really glad I went and got to spend some one-on-one time with the prosecutors to learn about their jobs, frustrations, and work load.  I found it quite interesting, but probably something that I will not be interested in doing for my legal career.  The Ministry of Fisheries prosecutors have about 60 cases open whereas the legal aid lawyer probably only has 40 because that is the maximum.   I just don’t think I can handle that much stress and time management although I do handle stress and managing my time very well.


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