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Showing posts from December, 2014

Why is rehabilitation treated as a punishment?

I was in court today for a duty session.  I represented a man with a long history of drug abuse and offending.  He had taken a ten-year break from crime and drugs, partly because he spent four-years in prison and partly because he met a woman, married and had kids.  A family breakdown has led him back to heroin.
In the past year he’s committed a couple of minor thefts and been found in possession of heroin, which is why I represented him today.
He agreed he needed help to kick the drugs and wanted me to apply for a pre-sentence report aimed at a community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement attached.
His instructions and the recent offending indicate an escalation in offending meaning it’s very likely that without support he will find himself back before the court having committed further offences.
Ultimately, my application for a PSR was refused on the basis that the offence was not sufficiently serious to warrant a punishment as serious as a community order.  In law, the c…

Iffy experts, barely there solicitors - who do you trust?

I have begun a three-part series on my heavily under-used blog The London Drink Driving Solicitor looking at how to find the best solicitor for your case.  It was inspired by some work I did recently for a potential client.
This person is represented by another motoring solicitor who has charged her £915 to prepare and conduct a trial – this figure includes an expert report and Counsel’s fees for the first appearance and trial.  Most barristers want £150 - £250 + VAT for a first appearance and between £350 - £500 + VAT to conduct a magistrates’ court trial like this one and I’m told that the expert report cost £450.  So, I’m not really sure how the firm is making any money from these cases, which is why I wasn’t surprised to see that not very much attention appears to have been paid to the preparation of the case.  This is an example of the “pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap” approach to law that I thought only existed in less reputable legal aid firms.
It seems to me that this firm h…

Extraordinary day in court

These days it's not unusual for something to go wrong in court but in the past two-weeks I've witnessed two of the worst breakdowns of my career - if you don't include the prosecutor I made so angry in court he tried to punch me that is.
On the 8th December the court service computer broke down nationwide.  I was in Thames Magistrates' Court at the time and witnessed cases being adjourned as no trial dates could be fixed - this meant that they were setting new dates with no idea as to how busy the court would be on the next occasion. 
In a number of motoring cases, the court was unable to verify defendant's driving records due to the failure meaning that people who ought to be banned as they had totted up to 12 or more penalty points could potentially escape disqualification - I don't know if this did happen.
I heard from colleagues that courts all over the country were in chaos.  An entire nation's criminal court system all but stopped working for most of …