Skip to main content

Appealing convictions

It's been quite a while since I last got around to writing anything so I thought I best start off with something topical.  Then I thought sod that, I'll write about something relevant to me and everyone else can like it or lump it... or I suppose leave abusive comments, although you really shouldn't do that you naughty trolls.

In the modern world a lot of solicitors like to be lawyers and do lawyery things like consider papers, draft documents and advise clients.  I also enjoy that, but I have also come to terms with my additional roles, which include such delights as courier, messenger boy and now long distance delivery driver.

Anyway, the source of this rant comes from the fact that yesterday I ended my Christmas break early, left my girlfriend and our son at her parents to drive for three-hours to Leeds to collect papers for a client's appeal and then drive the three-hours back to my girlfriend's parents to drop the car back to her followed by another two-hours on my bike riding back home (leaving them to enjoy a few more days in Cheltenham).  I didn't particularly mind doing that even though I won't get the £100 back I spent on petrol, nor will I be paid for the time I spent on this mission.  What I did mind though was that when I arrived, the person I was due to meet had "forgotten" to get the papers.  He knew I was coming as I had arranged the meeting with him two-weeks ago and had called him in the morning to remind him.  I offered to drive him to collect the papers, but the person who had them wasn't going to be available for 6 or 7-hours.  So, I drove back empty handed.

This (finally) brings me onto the subject of this post, which is appealing convictions.  In my experience, finding grounds of appeal isn't really difficult.  Either the judge made a mistake at trial, in which case it will show up in the transcripts or he didn't.  Finding new evidence is a far more exciting way to bring about an appeal to that end I have spent days trawling shipping archives at the National Archive in Kew or interviewing witnesses I've found on the internet etc.  I'll even take a weekend out to trace and interview witnesses abroad if need be... I don't even pretend that is a chore!

The hardest part of any appeal in my experience is getting the papers!

In September I went to see two men who both wanted me to appeal their convictions (one for murder and the other for attempted murder) in completely separate cases.  One has papers with relatives and it was for him I went to Leeds.  I thought getting his papers would be easy, but clearly not.  The other had a solicitor at trial who a) is just around the corner from me; and b) by chance used to rent our offices before we took them over... so they are well known to me.  Unfortunately, that solicitor has lost the papers.  The CPS used to be very helpful in this situation and would happily provide any help they could; however, since the credit crunch they now refuse point blank to provide copies of papers (even when I've offered to pay for the cost of copying).

Papers not appearing is a very common problem; usually solicitors just ignore letters asking for papers... we even have a standard letter to send to other firms threatening to report them to the SRA if they don't cough up the papers ASAP.

If you or someone you know has a conviction you want to appeal, then I highly recommend taking action in this order:
1. Find a solicitor you are happy to work with and have represent you;
2. Instruct them and send back all the papers they send to you (this will include an authority allowing your old solicitor to release your papers);
3. Contact you old solicitor and speak with the solicitor who represented you giving clear instructions for him to send on your papers and provide a name and address (preferably a DX address) for the papers to be sent.
4. Check with your new solicitor whether he has received them and if not repeat step 3.

I promise that doing this will take an extra 10 minutes of your time and will mean your case ends (hopefully with a successful appeal) much earlier, possibly months earlier.

Good luck and happy new year.

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ched Evans

Before I begin, I will say that at around 4,500 words this is probably the longest blog I’ve ever posted but I think it’s all necessary to set the scene for this case and explain the background that has been largely ignored or airbrushed in the press. Despite its length, I have not attempted to include every little detail of either fact or law but have done my best to provide a balanced picture of the Ched Evans case, what happened and why the courts reached the decisions they did. There has been so much written about the Ched Evans case over the past weekend, much of it based on a very shaky grasp of the facts and law, that I decided I would read up about the case and weigh in (hopefully on a slightly firmer footing than most of the articles I’ve read so far).

Broadly speaking there seem to be three groups who have opinions on the case:
1.Sexual violence groups (including people describing themselves as “radical feminists”) who appear to take the view that the case is awful, the Court o…

How do the police decide whether to charge a suspect?

A question I’m often asked by clients (and in a roundabout way by people arriving at this blog using searches that ask the question in a variety of ways), is “how do the police decide whether to charge or take no further action (NFA)?”
What are the options?
Let’s have a quick think about what options are available to the police at the end of an investigation.
First, they can charge or report you for summons to attend court.  Charging means that you are given police bail and are required to attend court in person.  A summons is an order from the court for you to attend or for you to send a solicitor on your behalf.  In many cases where a person is summonsed, the court will allow you the option of entering a plea by post.
Second, you may be given a caution.  These can be a simple caution, which on the face of it is a warning not to be naughty in future, or it can be a conditional caution.  Conditions could include a requirement to pay for the cost of damage or compensation, etc.  Either…

Bid to prevent defendants knowing who accuses them of a crime

When I read The Trial by Kafka and Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell, I took them as warnings of how a bad justice system wrecks lives of those caught up in it. Sadly, some Members of Parliament and the House of Lords seem to view the books more as a guide to how they would like our Criminal Justice System to run. Today, I read of plans to hide the names of accusers and witnesses from defendants in a large number of cases. Victims of sexual offences, such as rape, have had the right to lifelong anonymity for many years now. This means that it is a criminal offence to publish information that will lead to a complainant being identified. A Bill currently being considered by Parliament would extend that anonymity to bar defendants and their lawyers knowing the name of the person accusing them. This would apply not only in sexual offences, as has been reported in the press, but also in violent offences.
The anonymity currently offered to victims of sexual offences is not total, the complainant…