Wednesday, May 25, 2005

How To Look Like A Fool

I regularly attend at an East London Magistrates Court that is usually well staffed with District Judges. All District Judges seem to develop a character for themselves and a reputation also. The particular District Judge that I was in front of today always amuses me with the way in which they deal with cases. They rarely let the Defence, or Prosecution, finish what they are saying. In fact my general rule of thumb with this particular district judge is: if you can't say what you need to say in five seconds then don't bother.

Today's amusement was at a pupils expense today. The unfortunate pupil was representing a defendant in custody who was appearing for the second time. When the defendant was brought in to Court the barrister said to the District Judge he had been unable to arrange a security or a surety and he was therefore looking for an indication from the District Judge that if he did not apply for bail today that he would have the District Judge's permission on the third appearance to make a bail application. The response was short and sweet, "What!? No. Are you applying for bail today or not?"

Then came the next error. Counsel then made a bail application pointing out that the evidence was weak. But the evidence was only weak because the Prosecution had said that the Defendant was linked to the crime by DNA and the Prosecution had not served any such DNA evidence? The District Judge launched in to one of her verbal assaults again stating that she was entitled to consider any evidence that the Prosecution claimed to have for the purposes of a bail application and the mere suggestion that the Prosecution had not served the DNA evidence was insufficient to sway her at a bail application. Now the error in this scenario was Counsel continuing to try to refer to the weak Prosecution evidence of DNA, and each time this was mentioned the District Judge verbally berated him. I chuckled to myself in some kind of evil fashion each time Counsel referred to the DNA evidence.

The case has now been adjourned for committal - perhaps Counsel might want to mention the lack of DNA evidence at this hearing instead.

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