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Old 10-22-2009, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
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Difference Between "Your Honor" and "Your Worship" in Australia

I watch the old Australian soap opera Prisoner (called Prisoner: Cell Block H elsewhere), and I noticed that when they have one of the prisoners go before the court sometimes they address the judge as "your honor," and sometimes they address the judge as "your worship."

What is the difference? I noticed in an episode very late in the series Ida keeps addressing the judge as "your worship," and the judge says "ma'am it's your honor, not your worship."

Again this show takes place in the state of Victoria (Melbourne) Australia. And it ran from the late 70s till the mid 80s.
Old 10-22-2009, 05:58 PM
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It's the difference between a judge and a magistrate: you address a judge as "Your honour" and a magistrate as "Your worship".
Old 10-22-2009, 08:34 PM
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To add to Giles' answer: magistrates preside over the courts at the lowest level in the hierarchy. In Victoria this is the Magistrates' Court. It deals with less serious matters: traffic offences, minor assaults, property damage, offensive behaviour.

The next two levels are the County Court (the main trial court for the majority of offences) and the Supreme Court (for serious criminal offences such as murder). In both of these courts judges preside.
Old 10-22-2009, 09:27 PM
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Thanks for the answer, I know Prisoner is just a TV show so they often get stuff wrong, but it seemed to make no reason as sometimes the criminal is a killer and they go before "your honor," and sometimes a killer will go before "your worship"

But as I said being a TV show they often change the law for the convenience of the plotline.
Old 10-22-2009, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
Thanks for the answer, I know Prisoner is just a TV show so they often get stuff wrong, but it seemed to make no reason as sometimes the criminal is a killer and they go before "your honor," and sometimes a killer will go before "your worship".
Just to be clear, every criminal in Australia goes before a magistrate. Doesn't matter whether they are charged with spitting on the footpath or mass murder.

The magistrate's court is the first port of call under the British legal system. It fills a niche similar to the Grand Jury and/or arraignment hearing in the US, in the sense that it is the point where the prisoner is officially told of the charges against her, officially hears the state's evidence against her, where she has the opportunity to give evidence in her defence and where she is required to enter a plea, and it is the first stage of the trial process where the judiciary checks to see if the police have sufficient evidence to proceed.

In the case of serious offences like murder the magistrate examines the evidence to see if it is sufficient to proceed. The accused can then give evidence on their own behalf and the magistrate may then ask for a plea or may not require a plea to be entered. Regardless of the plea the case is then referred to a higher court for trial. Magistrates won't deal with serious offences like murder, but they are a stil the first port of call for the murderer.

So the reason why killers on the show were sometimes before a magistrate and sometimes before a judge was because of the stage the trail was at. Early in the trial process they will be before a magistrate. Later they will be before a judge.

If someone is charged with with spitting on the footpath they can plead not guilty in the Magistrates court or they can plead guilty and demand a higher court trial, in either of those cases they will then be sent to a higher court for trial and sentencing. However in practice that latter rarely happens because of the expense of a higher court trial and becuase the penalties handed down by the higher courts are much harsher. In reality the vast majority of cases a person charged with a minor crime will plead guity and elect to have it dealt with by the magistrate (whether they are guitly or not unfortunately). The magistrate then hears evidence and hands out a sentence, usually a fine and community service but it can be a short jail term. Occasionaly a magistrate will decide the state doesn't have enough valid evidence for a conviction and dismisc the case entirely.

But there's nothing inconsistent or erroneous about murders sometimes facing magistrates and sometimes facing judges. IN the real world they will always face both.
Old 10-22-2009, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
IN the real world they will always face both.
No. While your post has major parts that are broadly correct, your absolute statements are entirely incorrect.

Firstly, by an ex officio indictment the entire committal proceeding can be bypassed, such that charges can be heard in the superior courts without the accused ever going through a commital in the magistrates court. So not every criminal goes through the magistrates court, and in the real world they will not always face both.

Secondly, a number of charges are summary offences and are dealt with by a magistrates court and the accused has no right to go before the higher courts at all. Ironically, given the example you have chosen, spitting on the footpath is precisely the type of offence that gives rise to no right to a trial in a higher court.

I don't practice crim and I'm trying to remember details from CL101 which was 24 years ago, but I hope I've got the basics right. Where's Noel Prosequi when we need him?
Old 10-23-2009, 01:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Its similar in England and Wales, a Magistrate is "Sir/Ma'am, County/Crown Court "Your Honour", High Court and above, "My Lord/Lady".

Of course its a lot more complicated than that, High Court Judges oftentimes preside over criminal trials in the Crown Court and any judge sitting in the Old Bailey is entitled to be called "My Lord/Lady". During a trial at Southwark Crown Court, I once addressed the Judge as "Your Honour" throughout the morning session, until opposing counsel (!) passed me a note saying "he is a High Court Judge".

In addition, a magistrate is Your Worship for everyone except the Barristers. I think its the same in Oz?
Old 10-23-2009, 02:17 AM
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Hence the old joke:

Barrister: The accused was as "drunk as a judge", Your Honour.
Judge: I believe you mean "drunk as a Lord".
Barrister: Sorry, yes, thank you M'Lord.
Old 10-23-2009, 10:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,438
Fairly sure the Australian Courts no longer require different forms of address. It's "your Honour" from magistrates up to and including the High Court CJ. Federal Courts anyway. A little less sure for the State/Territory courts.
Old 10-23-2009, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 11,049
IANAS. Listen to Princhester.
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