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Showing posts from October, 2010

Litigation gone mad

I have just seen this report on the BBC website about a New York court allowing a pensioner to sue a 4-year-old for compensation.

The court held that the 4-year-old's lawyer had failed to show any evidence that the child was too immature or unintelligent to face trial for negligence.

That really is a compensation culture and I hope we never reach such pitiful depths in this jurisdiction.

Arrested for using the wrong locker

I received my copy of the Law Society Gazette yesterday and read a story entitled Solicitors sue police and prison service.  According to the story three solicitors are suing after they were arrested while visiting client at HMP Brixton because they placed prohibited items into the wrong lockers.  There doesn't seem to be any suggestion that any of the solicitors attempted to take the prohibited items into the visit area.  It is also worth noting that none of the solicitors involved have been charged with any offence, despite the comments by the Prison Service.

If you've never visited a prison, especially on a legal visit, it may be difficult to appreciate how prisons deal with security during visits.  There are very few common rules between establishments and the individual prison's rules are subject to change without notice and are in any case not applied evenly.  For example, last time I visited HMP Littlehey, I was reminded not to take a mobile telephone in with me but…

No sense of gratitude

I was in Court last week waiting for my case to be called on and watching others ahead of me in the list.

One chap made me laugh, he went into the dock where he entered a guilty plea to an assault charge, I think it was ABH.  The judge said he would like a pre-sentence report before passing sentence and that the defendant could have bail until it was ready.

Leaving the Court, the defendant was shaking his head and moaning to his wife/girlfriend about the terrible system and how much time and money it wasted in not dealing with cases quickly.

He didn't seem to have thought that he could have saved all the time and money by simply not launching his unprovoked attack on an innocent bystander.

It's all my fault

As the title suggests, it really is all my fault... must be two judges said so.

Problems with two cases have been blamed on me, one quite bizarrely and the other because the judge seems intent on not listening .to the facts of the case.

First, yesterday I got a call to let me know that one of my clients was in court for his custody time limits to be extended.  This surprised me as it was the first I'd heard of it.  Turns out that the prosecution had notified the firm, by fax, of their intention to apply to extend the time limits at 9pm on Tuesday night.  Unsurprisingly, come Wednesday morning at 10am nobody was at court for the defendant and because it is the school half term it was surprisingly difficult to find cover.  Somehow the judge seemed to believe that this was my fault and ordered that we attend.

Second case was today.  One of the trainee solicitors who is about to qualify is handling the case, I'm supervising but as the "solicitor" I get the blame - which …

Steralisation for cash

Last night I caught half off InsideOut, a TV show on the BBC (I think) that was discussing whether drug addicts should be offered cash in return for agreeing to be sterilised and thus never having children.  Also, on the show was one of Margaret Thatcher's former advisers who said that he advised Maggie to bring in a system of compulsory sterilisation that would form a sentence of the courts.

I'm talking purely now about the offer to pay rather then the forced sterilisation, which the Daily Mail would have a fit over if it was happening in any Arab country.

I honestly don't know how I feel about this suggestion.  On the one hand, I find the idea of twisting the arms of the desperate and often mentally incapable (due to their drug use) quite unpalatable. 

On the other had, I've had dealings with drug dependant mothers and fathers whose children live the most miserable lives that the authorities seem unable to improve.  One girl I came across is regularly in court for…

On the light side

I have just read this story about three 18-year-olds who tortured a 17-year-old aspergers sufferer in a very nasty attack.

They apparently received a community sentence of 3-months curfew accompanied by 80-hours unpaid work.  I can only hope that the reporting of this story is hopelessly wide of the mark for I cannot think how the actions reported can justify such a low sentence.

Some low sentences can be explained by the existence of a "text".  A text is a letter from  a senior police officer to a judge that explains that Defendant X has provided information to the police that has been very helpful to them in fighting ongoing crime and it asks that the judge reflects this help in the sentence.  A text is never referred to in public and although the defendant's lawyers can see it, a copy is only provided to the judge and nobody else.  Because it is a secret sentences for other offenders are commonly reduced in line with that of the informant's so that it is less obvi…

Who I and why?

I'm a keen reader of blogs and read a wide range including Bystander's Magistrates' Blog, the Anonymous Prosecutor, several police blogs, Frank Chalk and Winston Smith.  There are others, but those are the main ones.

I just read Inspector Gadget's latest post, in particular this paragraph:
Wayne’s solicitor is clearly speaking about a different person to the one that Mandy and I have been dealing with. The Wayne he speaks of is a loving father to his new baby, a man riven by guilt and remorse at his previous behaviour, a man deeply committed to change, a man who now wants to do volunteer work in his community. A man clean of drugs who has, yes, failed his last two drugs tests at probation, and missed the last twelve, but still, he is trying. This is  a very changed man your worships. Changed even since the last time, and the time before that, when he was also changed from the time before that. The …

Here goes....

Welcome to my new blog.  This is my first ever effort at blogging and even though I am already typing I don't really know what I am going to be talking about in this first post.  So I guess I'll just tell you a little about myself and what I do.

I am 31-years-old and I work in east London, Hackney to be exact.  I work for a small two-partner firm of solicitors specialising in crime.  Although we call ourselves criminal defence specialists, in fact the firm does more than just defence.  Others in the firm also carry out a lot of appeal and prison law work.  For those who aren't familiar with prison law, it encompasses everything from a prisoner who has broken the rules and is facing disciplinary proceedings to those serving life sentences who are looking to be release on appeal.

Anyway, this post isn't supposed to be about the firm it's about me and what I do.

I am a duty solicitor, so if a suspect is arrested and wants "the duty" I am one of the lucky sol…