Tuesday, August 19, 2014

So Far, So So-So

ITV has come up with a Judge Judy clone, called Judge Rinder,(played, in reality by a respected barrister). The TV set is a shabby pastiche of an American court room, complete with flags behind the bench, and those swing gates that I remember from old US movies.

Unforgivably, there is also a bloody gavel on the pretend bench.   (for those new to the blog, no British court ever uses a gavel).

I looked the programme up, after a couple of ladies in my local pub enthused about the sexiness of the faux judge, and added the caveat that they thought he was camp, and drew the usual conclusion.

I will give it a run, but  I fear that it is unlikely, on the present showing, to improve the public's understanding of courts

This is his day job

Fishy Matters

This piece describes a classic nonsense prosecution.

Only last week I ate a delicious plate of sardines, suitably dressed in garlic. Those sardines were hauled from their habitat, allowed to asphyxiate in the fishing boat, then sent to a fish merchant who filleted them and sold them to a restaurant, where I enjoyed eating them.

What, pray, is the difference, between my eating those sardines, and this sad drunken boy drinking live fish? I hope never to find out whether it is worse to be gulped into someone's digestive juices, or to gasp out my life on the deck of a fishing boat.

No more cash to the RSPCA from me, then (their costs applications are always way above CPS scales)


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Age and the Judiciary

Susan, a JP, has emailed to ask me to comment on the fact that JPs have to retire at 70, which would now be illegal in everyday employment.

The entire judiciary, right up to the Lord Chief Justice has to go at 70, (with a very few exceptions) and I have no problem with that. We can't have old codgers like me, in my 60s, clogging up the bench and getting in the way of young fresh people. The late Lord Denning sat on to a very advanced age, but that will not happen in future.

Police Force

A journalist of whom I am extremely fond (all right, he's my son) has sent me this link that highlights the creeping militarisation of the police in some US states. If we are not careful. that might happen here - if you dress the police like commandos and arm them like commandos, they might possibly start to act like commandos.

This is what I thought some time ago.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Search Warrants (3)

Here is the form

And here is the S8 form

Search Warrants (2)

Here is a senior lawyers's view.

He is unnecessarily and insultingly dismissive of lay justices; in any event the JP (or it might have been a District Judge or a Circuit Judge) would have had access to a legal adviser if required. I, and I suspect, most of my colleagues are just as aware of the implications of a search warrant for the liberty of the Queen's subjects as a highly-paid silk.

I reiterate that new legal guidance has been given to every JP about warrants in recent months. It would be naive to discount the possibility that some officers in a certain county might have formed an unhealthily close relationship with one or more compliant JPs, but even then a new and exhaustive form has to be completed by police and judiciary, and that form, in this case, is certain to be rigorously scrutinised.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Search Warrants

The recent search of a celebrity's house raises a number of questions, not least that of who tipped off the press, and why. Troublingly, the Daily Mail has now added a nudge-nudge-wink-wink to its report, to the effect that further witnesses have come forward, without mentioning that they may exculpate Sir Cliff entirely. Does no one believe in Innocent Till Proved Guilty any more?

A lot of guidance has been given to the judiciary in the last while, much of it focused on the great interference in the subject's liberty that a warrant will cause. This excellent blog post gives great detail. An important point that has been neglected in the past is the need to give and record full reasons behind the application for the warrant and the magistrate or judge's decision.

I imagine that lawyers instructed by Sir Cliff Richard will be looking very closely indeed at the reasons endorsed on the paperwork behind this warrant.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hmmmm...

I have no view one way or another on the current news story regarding Sir Cliff Richard;- except that Sir C is reported as saying:-

 "However, the police attended my apartment in Berkshire today without notice, except, it would appear, to the press."

That's a bit of a coincidence, bearing in mind the whole brouhaha about certain tabloids. Has some one been on the receiving end of a 'good drink', or am I too much of an old cynic?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not a Lot of People Know That

A firm of solicitors called Woodfines publish a useful letter updating transport law. I don't do a lot of traffic stuff these days, but I do glance through the key points, and I was amused to read that the limit for HGVs on single carriageways will shortly increase from 40 mph to 50 mph. On dual carriageways, HGVs over 7.5 tonnes will have their limit increased from 50 mph to 60 mph. I have driven a good few miles in my time, and I have never gained the impresssion that lorries travel at anywhere near their limits. And on the motorways, white vans such as Transits and the aptly-named Sprinters often travel at well over 100 mph. The ubiquitous BMWs that hurtle along six feet from the car in front are gradually being replaced by Audis, especially the big 3-tonne 4 x 4s.

Update

The previous post about jury trial has attracted some interesting comments, but I have had an email, for which I am grateful, from a barrister in a respected set of criminal chambers pointing out the potential difficulties of revealing anything that happens in the jury room. I have therefore edited the post (edits in italics) to ensure that the case is not identifiable, and to remove reference to discussions. I repeat my gratitude to M'learned friend.

It is a couple of years or so since I was mentioned on the front page of the Daily Mail, and I would like to leave it at that.