This procedure provides guidance for professional conduct in court by youth justice court advice workers and case managers.

 

When to use this procedure

When attending court and providing advice and assistance.

 

Practice context and legislation

  • Section 544 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 broadly describes the duties of youth justice workers in the provision of court advice.
  • Youth justice has a significant role to help prevent young people who appear in court from progressing to unnecessary involvement with the justice system. At pre-finding of guilt, pre-sentencing and sentencing stage, providing accurate and considered advice in a professional and timely manner helps the court to make appropriate decisions.
  • Acknowledging the conventions of the court and adhering to court etiquette shows you recognise the authority of the court, and models appropriate behaviour to young people.
  • Court etiquette and professional behaviour extends beyond the confines of the court room, where the young person and family or friends will be waiting.
 

Roles and key tasks

Youth justice court advice service worker

  • Provide advice to the court.
  • Provide advice to the young person and, where appropriate, their family.
  • Model behaviour that is ethical, accountable and professional, in accordance with the Department of Human Services values and the Code of Conduct for Victorian public sector employees.
  • Acknowledge the conventions of the court and abide by the rules of court etiquette

Team leader / unit manager

  • Guide and instruct the worker providing court advice.
  • Promote adherence to court conventions to your team and make sure they comply.
  • Undertake CRIS audits to ensure information is recorded as required.
  • Help the youth justice court advice service worker to manage any transfer issues if a young person appears in court outside the area in which they reside.

Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support

  • Provide oversight, direction and monitoring of the area youth justice service.
  • Ensure there is youth justice court advice coverage at all scheduled children’s court sittings in your area.

Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor

  • Provide case consultation, particularly regarding young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours.
  • This should occur subject to local area agreements between Assistant Director / Manager Individual Family Support and the Senior Practice Advisor.
 

The procedure in detail

Presentation at court

Youth justice workers must:

  • dress professionally, recognising the formality of the court
  • remove hat and sunglasses (and do not place glasses on forehead)
  • ensure mobile phone is turned off before entering the court
  • not take food or drink into the court room (this includes chewing gum).

Information sharing with legal representatives

The young person’s legal representative will gather information to support the case in court.

Be mindful of the information you provide to the legal representative before entering the court.

No information is provided ‘off the record’.

The legal representative may refer to, or relay, any information to the magistrate, and youth justice may be examined in relation to it.

Addressing the judiciary and court staff

In all criminal division jurisdictions the magistrate or judge is referred to as ‘Your Honour’.

In all instances, address the magistrate or judge as ‘Your Honour’.

All court staff, including registrars, clerks of court and court volunteers should be treated with professionalism and respect.

Where to sit in the courtroom

The youth justice worker sits next to the young person, behind their legal representative.

Family and friends sit on the same side of the court room in the row behind the young person.

Entering or leaving the courtroom

When entering and leaving the court room always bow facing the magistrate or judge.

A slight nod of the head is sufficient.

Stand and bow when the magistrate or judge enters and leaves the courtroom. Enter and leave a courtroom at an appropriate time, for example during a break in the proceeding, and exit without undue delay. Do not stand at the back of a courtroom.

If a witness is being sworn in or making an affirmation, do not move or speak. If you unknowingly enter a courtroom in this instance, stop until the oath is concluded.

Never move between the bar table and bench, or between a witness and the bar table and bench.

Tendering a document in court

If a document is to be tendered to the magistrate and the clerk of courts is not present, ask the magistrate for permission to approach the bench to tender the document.

For example say, ‘May I approach the bench, Your Honour?’.

Speaking in court

In a children’s court when being addressed by the magistrate from the body of the court, you may respond without standing.

In the magistrates’ court when being addressed by the magistrate you are required to stand before speaking. This protocol also applies to the county and supreme court jurisdictions.

Conversation in court rooms must be restricted to that which is reasonably necessary and must not interfere with the conduct of the proceedings.

Giving evidence

When asked to provide an address when being sworn in or making an affirmation, provide the address of the Department of Human Services office at which you are based.

Do not state your home address.

When giving evidence in the witness box, face and direct all answers and comments to the magistrate or judge.

When giving evidence:

  • listen to each question carefully
  • answer the question briefly and keep to the facts
  • be truthful and provide accurate information
  • speak clearly and use plain language
  • do not use acronyms or terms you cannot clearly define
  • remain calm and confident.

If you are unsure or do not know something, explain this honestly. If the matter is important to the proceedings, ask the court to stand the matter down to enable clarification of the information.

Ensure the information provided to the court does not contradict any written reports. If information has changed since the submission of a report, advise the court that, at the time of writing, the information was current and accurate.

If there is a need to refer to written material while in the witness box, request the permission of the magistrate or judge to do this. For example, ‘Your Honour, may I refer to my written notes/report?’

Do not leave the witness box until the magistrate or judge advises that you are excused. If necessary, ask permission to leave the witness box.

Mode of address

When addressing a legal representative in court use the titles Mr or Ms as appropriate.

Police officers are referred to by rank, such as constable, senior constable or sergeant.

In a children’s court a young person is referred to by their first name. In the adult jurisdiction a young person is referred to as Mr or Ms.

Security at court

Obey all instructions of court and security officers, including submitting to scans and other security measures of the court.

After court

After you leave the courtroom, discuss the outcome with the young person.

If the young person receives an order:

  • Ensure they understand the order that has been made and the expectations on them to comply with standards and special conditions.
  • Explain any comments made by the court during the hearing (for example, reasons for ordering a particular sentence or special condition), or any rehabilitative programs the young person is expected to participate in during their sentence.
  • Tell the young person they must report to the designated youth justice office within two working days and provide contact and appointment details.

If the young person has attended court accompanied by a youth justice worker, that worker must obtain a record of all relevant documentation, including the court order, and check that the records are correct.

The legal representative will also discuss the order and its consequences with the young person.