Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In the news...

An unusual defence of duress? Expect the usual "Loophole Lawyer" shenanigans from this story. While I have sympathy with anyone whose domestic pet is trapped beneath the floorboards, who on earth drives an eighty grand poor person squasher, but doesn't have a screwdriver at home?

Drug prohibition doesn't work, and never has. Another person has bravely spoken out as he leaves one of the few positions where he may have been able to actually do something about it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Expenses, part eleventy million

The Court of Appeal has spoken, and the Honourable Gentlemen (sic, for now) will be standing trial in the usual way in due course. Except they're going to appeal to the Supreme Court. Who, fingers crossed, will be as scathing as their brother judges in the Court of Appeal.

If they make it to the hallowed ground of Southwark Crown Court, they're royally fucked*.

*This is not legal advice, and should not be treated as such. It should not be relied upon as investment advice, and the length of your sentence can go down, as well as up.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Death by a thousand cuts

Or, more accurately, unemployment by a single cut, for 1,800 CPS employees.

The Government, perhaps wisely, has told the CPS to cut costs by 25%. The guff in the leaked memo aside, the vast bulk of cutting costs will come, as usual, from sacking people.

Senior Crown Prosecutors making 50-60K a year, who are still knocking about in the mags courts, are extremely high-cost. I can phone chambers and get a third six pupil or junior to cover a court for a hundred and fifty quid. 5 days a week = 750 a week, and if court sits for 48 weeks a year, that's 36K. People earning that much need to be in the Crown Court, saving fees if they are to justify their existence.

But no sick pay, no pension, no training costs, no travel and subsistence. The Bar is starting to look like good value again.

If the budget cut is 40%, however, it's not just 1,800 jobs, it's 3,300, which will cost £70M...


the Anonymous Soon-To-Be-Ex-Prosecutor

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ian Tomlinson

I suppose I should say something about this.

The facts are set out clearly in that report. What isn't mentioned is the fact that the police originally asserted that the paramedics were pelted with bottles and prevented from treating Mr. Tomlinson by the crowd at the scene. That didn't happen. Although, given the police officers = bastards starting point that a lot of people take, I can understand a defensive attitude. Porky pies cross the line, however.

Anyway, the DPP didn't want to deal with that, but I'm a shite sight less sensitive or politically exposed, so there you go.

The decision itself...well, it's fully argued, and appears to be from someone who has carefully read the papers. It's in the minority there.

The part I'm struggling with is this:

The separate strike with the baton was also considered. It had left patterned bruising. But where injuries are relatively minor, as these were, the appropriate charge is common assault in accordance with the CPS Charging Standard, which is applied nationally. This Charging Standard was applied in another incident arising from the G20 where a police officer had struck the complainant twice with his baton.

What it doesn't say is whether it was applied to not charge that officer, or whether it was applied to charge the officer. Slightly unclear phrasing, perhaps.

So what do the Charging Standards actually say?

16) However, there may be cases where the actual injuries suffered by a victim would normally amount to common assault, but due to the presence of serious aggravating features, they could more appropriately be charged as actual bodily harm contrary to section 47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

17) Such serious aggravating features would include:

a) the nature of the assault, such as the use of a weapon, biting, gouging or kicking of a victim whilst on the ground, or strangulation which is more than fleeting and which caused real fear to the victim; or

b) the vulnerability of the victim, such as when the victim is elderly, disabled or a child assaulted by an adult (so that where an assault causes any of the injuries referred to in sub-paragraph (vii), other than reddening of the skin, the charge will normally be assault occasioning actual bodily harm, although prosecutors must bear in mind that the definition of assault occasioning actual bodily harm requires the injury to be more than transient and trifling); or

c) other circumstances when though the injuries are relatively minor the existence of aggravating features mean that the sentencing powers of the court may not be adequate. Refer to the section on Defences to assaults below.

I would suggest that a) - c) do not form an exclusive list and the fact that the suspect was an on-duty police officer could properly be said to be a serious aggravating feature. I have also decided on previous occasions that, for instance, using a piece of wood justifies a charge of ABH where the only injury is minor bruising. This is a matter of opinion, and the DPP clearly doesn't share mine.

So, then. Why didn't we charge the officer with common assault?

Common assault does not require proof of injury, but it is subject to a strict six month time limit. That placed the CPS in a very difficult position because enquiries were continuing at the six month point and it would not have been possible to have brought any charge at that stage.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sir Richard Mottram

Rumour has it that 150 mags courts will be closed, and a further 30% lopped off the legal aid budget.

To quote a phrase widely attributed to the abovementioned gentleman in the wake of the 9/11 news-burying fiasco;

"We're all fucked. I'm fucked. You're fucked. The whole department is fucked. It's the biggest cock-up ever, and we're all completely fucked".

For "department", read "legal aid system and the Magistrates' Court".

I would apologise for my language, but if you're more offended by a spot of anglo-saxon than the gross injustice that will inevitably result from such cuts, you need your head examining, and merit further such language, probably questioning your parentage and breeding.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

POW! Right in the kisser.

This, for me, encapsulates the dilemma of lone police officers. The officer cannot control two people at once, and has to make decisions very quickly. He can't call for back up, because he's fully occupied trying to restrain a dangerous master criminal suspected of crossing the road other than on a pedestrian crossing. This isn't about jaywalking laws and personal liberty, though.

Any police officer is trained to be paranoid, on either side of the pond, and for good reason. You just don't know what people are carrying, and being surrounded by an angry crowd is extremely dangerous.

So the officer did what he clearly felt necessary in the circumstances as he perceived them. He had the first girl's arm in a swan neck hold -- holding the forearm vertical and pushing the hand inwards towards the elbow. Another person intervened, and he punched her in the face. I make no comment as to that -- he was there, essentially fighting with two people. I have the luxury of watching it on the internet, with a slo-mo replay.

The real point of this story is that the Seattle Police Department who sent him out alone have accepted that their policy has consequences, and have supported the officer, by saying it's up to him what force he uses. Metropolitan Police Service, take note. If you pursue single-crewing, one of your officers will end up being filmed using Home Office approved distraction technique number 15 -- a punch in kisser. When that officer ends up on Youtube, please have the courage to support their actions in preserving their personal safety, caused entirely by your policy.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Four parlimentarians who were caught with their hand in the cookie jar, have been asserting that their claims are subject to parliamentary privilege, and that they cannot stand trial. A judge in the High Court has just thrown that claim out, noting that there is 'no logical, practical, moral or legal justification' for expenses claims being covered by privilege'. Ouch.

They have permission to appeal, and will be doing so. Court of Appeal will take a while, but I'll keep my eyes open.

The charges are interesting -- false invoices feature in some! The 'a bigger boy made me do it' defence, as given short shrift by headmasters everywhere, is one thing, but just forging documents is quite another. Hopefully the sentencing will match this disgraceful behaviour.

Planning, erosion of public confidence, abuse of trust, sophisticated offence, high value, long duration...lots of aggravating features racking up against the Right Honourable Gentlemen and the Noble Gentleman. I'll add suitably mocking quotation marks around 'honourable' and 'noble' if they get convicted.

Extraordinary behaviour.