Professor David Tait, University of Western Sydney
This article examines legal debates about one important design question – where and how to seat the accused. It tells how courts, spurred on by assertive defence lawyers, fought back to protect the rights of the accused and have provided a more dignified court setting. The abandonment of a glass-framed enclosure, in particular, raised legal issues in the United States. These issues have reappeared in the European and Australia debates.
The article contains the following:
- Provides background to the development of the dock in courtrooms from 1300 to 1850
- Reviews US experience of abolishing the dock, outlining the court decisions that enabled and reinforced this change.
- Reviews the development of the glass-enclosed security dock
- Examines and the way this was handled in two appeal court processes – European Court of Human Rights and Queensland Court of Appeal and the Australian High Court.
- Looks at how two trial courts in Australian terrorism trials dealt with applications to remove the glass from the dock.
- Draws together the lessons from these case studies
- Develops recommendations about how court design can better reflect fundamental legal values.
From: Glass Cages in the Dock: Presenting the Defendant to the Jury, Chicago-Kent Law Review, 86:2, 2011