Case Preparation

Case Preparation
Review the Charges

In preparing for a case, the prosecutor must ensure that he reviews the charges.  He should confirm that he has drafted the charges accurately and in accordance with the requirements of the law.   He should also confirm that the evidence obtained can sustain the charges.

Review the Statements

The prosecutor must review any written statements by the witnesses, experts and accused persons. He/she must sift out any irrelevant material, inadmissible material and material which is merely prejudicial and not probative. The prosecutor should also ensure that the witnesses have properly signed their written statements.  They should contain a declaration of truthfulness where the law requires this. The prosecutor should ensure that the address of a witness does not appear on the face of the witness statement. The prosecutor should then identify and try to resolve any inconsistencies with the witness statements.  The investigator should give the witnesses opportunities to record further statements to cure these inconsistencies. The prosecutor should also ensure that there is corroboration in the witness statements and not mere repetition.

Case Preparation

Make a Witness List

Make a list of the witnesses you intend to call to court based on the witness statement. It is not necessary for all witnesses who recorded a statement to testify.  The prosecutor should make a carefully informed decision of all the crucial witnesses. In the list of witnesses, put a short one-line description of what each witness is expected to state.

Review the Exhibits

The prosecutor should ensure that all exhibits are available and are admissible. He/she should ensure that the exhibits were obtained using legal means.  Further, he should confirm that the exhibits are properly marked and stored for presentation in court. Ensure that all the exhibits are attributable to a witness or the investigator who will identify them at the trial.

Organize the Story

The prosecutor should then organise the story for clear and proper presentation of the case in court. He should organise the case into a coherent story, to avoid confusion during the trial.

Prepare a Short Prosecution Summary

Once the prosecutor has organised his story, he should prepare a brief summary of the case.  This  should not be more than one page. This summary should include a description of the case and the charges.  It should also make reference to the number of witnesses and what each will prove.  The summary should further include a reference to the exhibits and what they will prove.  Also include a paragraph on the impact of the crime to the victim or to society at large. This summary will help the prosecutor make a good opening statement where procedure requires him/her to make an opening statement.

Hold a Pre-Trial Conference

Case Preparation

The prosecutor should organise a meeting with all the witnesses, the complainant and the investigator as close as possible to the trial date. At this meeting, the prosecutor should hear from each witness what he/she will say at the trial.  He should also hear from them what exhibits he/she can identify. The prosecutor should take this opportunity to refresh the memory of the witnesses using their written statements.  This is especially so where the court schedules the trial long after the events of the crime occurred. The prosecutor should explain to the witnesses the court procedures.  He should inform them of what to expect at the trial, especially during cross-examination by the defendant or his lawyer.

Author: DidiWamukoya

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