Showing posts from October, 2016

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…

Jury selection: the facts

Following the Ched Evans verdict, you can read my analysis of the case here, the hysteria continues completely unabated by anything so unhelpful as facts and reality - please read the post above that was taken from Twitter. Today, I read outrage on Twitter at how women jurors are abused by the courts who require them to answer person questions about being assaulted by men in open court prior to being allowed to sit on a jury.
As I said in my post on the Ched Evans case, it is this sort of uninformed nonsense that will put people off reporting crimes not the reality, because the reality is that this sort of thing simply does not happen in the UK, despite claims by some on Twitter.
Let’s look at the claim quickly. First, we see it’s posted by somebody called “Shawna Gore” – sounds like an American name to me and sure enough a very quick search on Facebook reveals that this person works in Miami. Last time I checked Miami wasn’t in England and Wales, much less England and Wales. In the ver…

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…

Limiting duration of witness’s evidence

A judge recently threatened to curtail the length of my examination in chief of a defendant, which I thought a little unfair since a) he was on trial so should be able to give his evidence in his own words (in this case the defendant was not a man given to succinct answers and the judge clearly hated that); and b) he had only been in the witness box for 3 minutes when she lost patience with him. I’ve heard stories of district judges and magistrates threatening to cut advocates short during questioning of witnesses but this was the first time a judge had proposed to do it in one of my cases.

The basis for these threats is the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR), rule 3.11(d), which allows a judge to limit:
(i)The examination, cross-examination or re-examination of a witness; and
(ii)The duration of any stage of the hearing.

The exercise of CrimPR 3.11(d) should be undertaken with an eye on the overriding objective, which requires a court to deal with a case “justly” and encompasses “dealing …

Giving evidence at court

Giving evidence can be a daunting experience for many people and even those who are used to public speaking can find the formality of a courtroom off-putting.  In this post, I hope to give you a better idea of what will happen when you go into court and how you can maximise the impact of your evidence. Procedure Whether you are a witness for the defence or prosecution the process of giving evidence is the same.  Just remember that unless you are the defendant you must wait outside the courtroom before you give your evidence unless the court has agreed you can enter the room sooner. Being sworn in First, you will be called into the courtroom by a member of the court staff who will direct you to the witness box.  You will be asked whether you have any religious beliefs.  If you do then you will be handed the appropriate religious book along with an oath for you to read.  If you are not religious then you will be asked to affirm. Whether you swear on a religious book or affirm you are p…