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Canadian Court - Theory vs Practice

Updated on April 9, 2014


The criminal justice system stems from both the theory of justice to be attained, and the practice of obtaining justice. It differs greatly in method and reasoning, leaving much to be considered between the practice and theory of criminal justice. It has been shown that the theory portion is taught because of the values it creates, the stability of knowledge, and the methods it will hopefully teach to those who wish to pursue the practice. Theory teaches each individual in court to learn equality under the law, and to form their biases based on the theory of law. The study of criminal justice within a college setting teaches students to critically analyze their own biases and to understand the views of the theory. They then were told to explore the world without the theory; the world of practice. This exploration of the world which no longer focuses solely on the theory changes the views of students readying for what their field will offer. They notice differences when they are asked to attend multiple courts; listening to the changes of how people portray evidence and how they interpret facts. They deduce who in the court plays which role, what the accused did as a crime, and set aside their biases in order to better understand both sides of the argument. One of the major things students notice about the world of practice is the people factor; the difference in the actual people themselves, the behaviours, attitudes, ethnicities and the comparison of these characteristics to the textbook they study from. Another major difference students notice in theory versus practice is that the court is set up differently. They notice that every court is set out slightly different, depending on what the court will deal with. They notice that the position of the seat for each person varies, compared to the theory of all sitting in a specific spot - in a specific layout. A third difference which students notice upon their attendance to a court, is that these students must look further into the courts they attended in order to check facts with other sources. They then apply this theory to their practice, making decisions based on hard evidence they witnessed, researched, and heard in order to come to a complete decision on how the court will continue. Students learn how the theory and practice in the criminal justice system differ greatly.

First Impressions

Before entering the courtroom the students were first greeted by a Court Room Services Officer. From observations; his job included ushering the public who wanted to view the trial precede in an orderly and quiet fashion. He makes sure that the public understands the rules and regulations of the court. Using appropriate judgment the officer also provides the person on stand with water. When addressing the court one must bow, it is a sign of respect.

Pure silence is mandatory in the courtroom while a trial is in progress. The first trial was about a murder, but the accused was sitting with the defense, not in a separate booth. A video was being played as evidence for the prosecution. The prosecutor was bombarding the witness with question after question. The video was from Dec 6, 2009. It was amazing to see how the witness could still remember that exact time 4 years ago, and the fact that the crown still uses her words.

The second trial was much different. The two accused were placed in glass booths and there was a jury of 12 people. The two men were accused of murder with drugs and a weapon as factors. This time there were 3 cops present, more than the first trial. The trial was far more interesting than the previous because of the amount of information provided. Pictures were being shown of the suspect’s car. Blood stained back seats and an unopened bottle of alcohol in an LCBO bag, along with marijuana were the highlights of the pictures.

The students found it interesting to notice how the person in the first trial was with the defense, but the two men in the second trial were both seated in booths. Both men had handcuffs on, which would assume that they are already guilty. Both men were also of African American ethnicity and the jury was predominantly Caucasian, which begs the question to whether race would be a factor to the outcome of the trial.

The judge in the first trial was more interactive with the court unlike the other trial where the decision comes down to the jury. The trials are excruciatingly tiresome and nothing like the television shows. Questions are asked and answered, no rebuttals or anyone arguing, just a maintained order kept in the courtroom.

Close Up Impressions

Upon closer examination of the courts in Canada and the theory of justice that is in the text, some obvious differences seem to stand out more than others compared to what the text greatly depicts. “For the majority of citizens, the court is the place where they can obtain justice” (Fleming, Ramcharan, Dowler & de Lint, p. 4). When the students observed a case that involved two suspects who were both black, being accused of murder there were a lot of white Caucasian jurors for that specific case to be judging the faiths of the accused. All it takes is for them to have any racial discrimination or any sort of hatred towards the offenders, that if given the chance they can sure well abuse this power turning the case into an unfair and unequal one towards the suspects. The court system too many is looked upon a place where justice can be achieved, so the possibility of an unfair or an unequal case should be brought into great attention to ensure that the court system still remains the main important body in the Canadian criminal justice system. “Native peoples, for example, are increasingly questioning the process for prosecuting and sentencing offenders, and believe that their socio-cultural value systems define deviance differently from mainstream society” (Fleming, Ramcharan, Dowler & de Lint, p.2). Even though Canada is a multicultural society there are still many problems with its courts and justice system differs from what it is supposedly said in the text. It could either be a misstep jury or that “The premise is that the abuse of power by law administration officials is always a possibility-these officials will bend the rules to obtain convictions if given the opportunity” (Fleming, Ramcharan, Dowler & de Lint, p.10). To a more commonly race such as an aboriginal or African American there is more pressure placed upon them just because of what race they are. So in the end there needs to be a much more improvement in the court system that recognizes everyone as equals before the law, to be given a fair trial as well because that’s “The goal of the Canadian justice system is not to reduce crime at any cost, but to obtain fair justice for all those accused and to protect the legal and human rights of those charged with criminal offences” (Fleming, Ramcharan, Dowler & de Lint, p.9).

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Media and Court

Media plays a dynamic role in influencing citizens and altering the way society views certain events. Throughout the course of time, media has manipulated and impacted individuals through over exaggeration, repetition, and portraying only one side of a story. Certain crimes are more publicized than others. For example, murder cases are more likely to be announced through media. However, the Youth Criminal Justice Act privatizes children under age stating, “Court hearings were to be private and the names of youths and their identities were to be protected (Fleming, 2008).” Courts manipulate individuals through the use of media such as pictures, videos and audio clips depending on if the accused is guilty or not guilty. The students analyzed a case that informed us about a murder that took place in 2009. The accused took part in a first-degree murder case. The court showed videos of an individual running away through a surveillance camera. In the second court case the group visited, there were various pictures of a bloody car from different angles. Videos, pictures and audio clips can aid with the process of seizing the criminal(s). Social media also plays a large role in maneuvering crime outcomes. Tweeting or discussing a crime on social media, can be used as evidence in the court of law. The court of law states, “Social media and e-mail evidence are electronically stored evidence that is subject to the same basic evidentiary rules (Wasson, 2013).” Police have access to go through social media if it relates to the case, even if tweets or messages have been deleted. Media in general can help with court cases; however it can affect our perception of some cases. Media can release bias information about a case or the way citizens interpret the situation. People believe that all courts look the same and it only takes one day to find out if someone is guilty. For example, many people view courts as Judge Judy; a quick process and the judge asking questions. Also, society perceives courts as having a lawyer, a witness, an accused, and a judge. The courtrooms our group analyzed were cases that could last up to 6-8 weeks. Furthermore, the students noticed that the judge hardly speaks during a court hearing. The second courtroom had many attorneys and it also had a jury. Citizens always believe in what the media shows and or says. Media can play a huge role in the courtrooms; nonetheless citizens interpret it the way it is portrayed.


Students studied the theory of justice in the Canadian criminal justice system throughout the use of their textbook. They then studied the practices used by court officials in various trials. It was of great use for the students to learn these things and to apply them to the knowledge they already had. Students compared the behaviours and ethnic differences between theories rom their text, and the different courts. They then compared the different court structures in relation to the ideal court, studying the placement and area used. The students also learned about the media influence on arrests in relation to the courts they visited, and the textbook outlines. Students applied all knowledge of the theory of criminal justice, to the real-life practice they witnessed in their Toronto cases.


Fleming, T., Ramcharan, S., Lint, W. d., & Dowler, K. (2001). The Canadian Criminal Justice System. Toronto: Prentice Hall.

Wassom, B. (2013, August 9). Authentication of Social Media Evidence. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from


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