Criminology student Katja discovered how much goes on behind-the-scenes to make a courthouse operate. She takes us to the busy regional courthouse in Mackay for her Justice Journey.

As part of my justice journey, I was fortunate enough to experience 2 days in the life of Colette, the Deputy Registrar at the Mackay Courthouse.

On my first day, Colette was kind enough to take me on a quick tour of the courthouse, including the court room and jury room, which was amazing. There was no one else around at the time which gave me a chance to experience what it feels like to stand where the lawyers stand and sit in the judge’s chair!

While on the tour, I was lucky enough to meet Judge Reid and his Associate Mai who were here for 2 weeks working on several court cases.

Meeting Judge Reid and his Associate Mai, in town for some cases. Meeting Judge Reid and his Associate Mai, in town for some cases.

I also had a chance to meet the Crown Prosecutor Natalie and Clerk Sarah who were also here for a few weeks for court proceedings.

After the tour, we got down to business—and by ‘we’ I mean Colette really. While I was busy being Colette’s ‘shadow’ during my time with her and her team, I witnessed some of the many duties a Registrar carries out on a daily basis. Part of this included registering new indictments and reviewing existing indictments to ensure all details, such as charges, in the criminal database were correct. Colette also explained that she attends court sittings for mentions as she is responsible for the scheduling of court rooms. She has to ensure nothing gets double booked.

On my second day, Colette and I spent part of the morning ensuring everything was good -to-go for a video link conference with Brisbane which was scheduled for the next day. This was required for two different court cases.

This involved testing the connection and ensuring the Mackay courtroom and remote witness room were visible to the Brisbane court room. It was interesting to witness all the technology involved in setting up the video link

When we returned to the office, Colette prepared listings for the next court sittings in the coming days and weeks. As a registrar, Colette also deals with enforcement warrants, particularly in terms of reviewing warrants to ensure all details are correct. She also ensures the safety of the bailiff delivering the warrant.

Crown Prosecutor Natalie and Clerk Sarah with Katia outside the courthouse. Crown Prosecutor Natalie and Clerk Sarah with Katia outside the courthouse.

To ensure this, Colette gets the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to check the record of the person being issued the warrant. Depending on whether the alert is RED or AMBER determines whether a police officer is required to accompany the bailiff when the warrant is issued. The colour code refers to the likeliness of the person becoming violent upon receiving the warrant, In the case of a RED alert, Colette needs to fill out a form and send it to QPS outlining that a police officer is required for accompaniment of the bailiff whereas an AMBER alert leaves it up to QPS to determine whether police accompaniment is necessary or not. All these different tasks are only a few examples of what a job in the registry entails.

Being part of this journey has really given me an insight into what is involved in a court proceeding, especially all the processes ‘behind the scenes’ which we do not get to witness. I absolutely loved every minute of it. This experience has confirmed the fact that I would like to work in a courthouse dealing with various court processes in my future career.

A big thank you to Colette for allowing me to be her ‘shadow’ as well as the Department of Justice and Attorney-General for organising it all.