Thursday, June 02, 2005

Why Am I Here?

I spent all day in a prison today. I have a fairly long trial coming up and decided to devote my entire day to one particular Client so that I could try to finalise the preparations for his case. In this case I have been served by the Prosecution with over 3,500 hours worth of CCTV footage. I have also been served with a delightful DVD which is about 65 minutes long of specific footage of my Client. I have seen everything that the cameras near to this incident could have recorded. The incident I am talking about is a riot.

I have played the DVD footage to my Client a number of times, and having been through the papers on his case I had some questions to ask my Client about what he could remember from the footage. I played the DVD to the Client today and he gave me the information I needed. My Client then turned to me and said, "Why am I here? Why was I arrested for this?". I replied, "I don't know". My Client was of course asking why was he in prison. There are various reasons that I will not go in to why my Client cannot be bailed. I am still failing to see the strength of the prosecution evidence in this case, maybe I never will - that is why I do not know why my client was ever arrested for this matter.

My Client is alleged to have been one of a group of people involved in a riot. The DVD footage shows my Client wandering around, leaning against several walls, he scratches his head, bites his nails, speaks to various people - what I have not seen on the DVD footage so far is any evidence that he has engaged in activity that could be defined as rioting. In fact I have seen many DVD's in this case and I have seen some awful behaviour and people smashing up property but I have seen nothing to connect my Client to that behaviour/activity. This is one case which I actually feel quite confident that can be won. The Prosecution say that the DVD footage is what they will rely on at trial out of the 3,500 hours worth of footage. They will also rely on witnesses giving their accounts.

What tickled me today was the fact that several witnesses in this case had filled in report forms where they had described the incident that had taken place. There is no dispute that an incident took place, my Client disputes that he was actively involved in the riot. The report forms described the incident in variety of different ways and some of the descriptions given were: a riot, a major disturbance, chaos, and (my favourite) concerted indiscipline. Concerted indiscipline?! My children might be guilty of concerted indiscipline but I cannot see how a riot could ever be described as concerted indiscipline. It will be interesting in cross examination to ask some of the witnesses, "Did you witness the riot? Or did you witness concerted indiscipline?" An answer to the latter should secure an acquittal.

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