Courtroom Participants: Professional & Non-Professional Members

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  • 0:02 Professionals v. Outsiders
  • 0:38 Outsiders
  • 2:00 Professional Work Group
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christine Serva

Christine has an M.A. in American Studies. She is an instructional designer, educator, and writer with a particular interest in the social sciences and American studies.

Learn the roles of the many different people present at a trial who may be part of the courtroom work group. Find out who is considered a professional participant and who are known as the outsiders.

Professionals vs. Outsiders

You've been selected as a juror in a criminal case of assault. As you sit in the courtroom for the first time, you look around the room and try to figure out who's who. There are a number of people that seem to know what they're doing, like they're in courtrooms all the time, serving a role in the court, and then there are others like you who are not paid to be there, including both participants and spectators.

In this lesson, you'll learn the roles of each of the members of the professional courtroom work group along with the roles of nonprofessionals, like yourself.


It's now up to you and the other jurors to hear the case, meet with one another, and then determine a verdict. This is the role of the juror, the role you've been chosen to play as part of your duties as a citizen of the United States.

You're one of the outsiders, though, the nonprofessional members that are present in the courtroom, but who are not paid members of the work group, working on behalf of the trial. We'll talk more about those professional members later.

Other nonprofessional members include the spectators, like family and friends who watch the trial, and the press who may keep a record of the trial. Although press members are professionals themselves, they're not part of the professional work group since they do not serve the interests of the courtroom specifically.

Lay witnesses are also nonprofessional outsiders in the courtroom. These are members of the public who give testimony about the facts of the case under oath. Nonprofessional members of the court also include the interested parties who have a stake in the outcome of the case, such as the defendants and victims.

The victim is the person who alleges that the defendant committed a crime against him or her. The defendant is the person who has been accused of a crime. These participants may or may not also testify during the trial.

Professional Work Group

As you look around the room, you notice the various judicial professionals taking their positions in the courtroom and a few who will wait their turn to participate. These are the people who are typically paid to be present as part of the legal process. Together they make up the professional courtroom work group.

Both the victim and the defendant have lawyers present. The prosecuting attorney represents the interests of the people and the victim, while the defense counsel represents the defendant's interests and defends his or her rights.

There's also the bailiff, a deputy who maintains security and order in the courtroom. For instance, if you suddenly start yelling in the courtroom and won't stop, the bailiff would be tasked with ushering you out, if necessary.

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