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I read a definition of "dock" in "Merriam Webster dictionaries" which was:

The place in a criminal court where a prisoner stands or sits during trial

I suppose there should be "accused" instead of "prisoner" in the definition. It's a trial. He's still to be found guilty.

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Accused would certainly be appropriate there, as would defendant, but prisoner isn't necessarily wrong, because it doesn't imply that the person has been convicted.

Many people are held in prison before and during their trials, so they can be referred to as prisoners, even though the legal proceedings haven't determined their guilt.

It's possibly more accurate to call these people detainees than prisoners, but they're commonly referred to as prisoners.

Edit: all this is from a U.S. perspective; it may be different in other English speaking countries.

  • It's also quite possible that the person in the courtroom is a convicted prisoner. They may be in court again because they are appealing their sentence. – Jason Bassford Apr 20 at 14:46

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