Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lunatics

Whilst attending at a North London Magistrates Court today I sat observing some of the other advocates whilst I was waiting for my case to be called on.

The first solicitor was representing a young female who was charged with stealing £76,000 from a firm of solicitors. The solicitor clearly did not realise theseriousnesss of the offence and the fact that it was ultimately going to result in a lengthy custodial sentence. The solicitor faffed around saying that the Client was not ready to enter a plea but venue could be dealt with. Don't they call it plea before venue? When the District Judge politely ordered the Solicitor to deal with plea the Defendant entered a guilty plea. The solicitor then gave the worst mitigation story I have ever heard. The Defendant claimed to have experienced a very bad break up with a boyfriend (the Defendant was only 18). As a consequence of the emotional distress the Defendant had sought the help of a spiritual healer who charged her fees of about £76,000 to cast a spell on the boyfriend. The spiritual healer certainly did well out of all of this!

When the District Judge indicated he was going to commit the case for sentence the Solicitor then suggested the case was better dealt with in the Magistrates Court with a PSR considering a community penalty.

I m not sure what planet this solicitor was from but they really should go home - they are going to give us all a bad name.

The second lunatic I saw was representing a Defendant who had pleaded guilty to failing to register his new addreswithrh the on the sex offenders register. The Defendant was in custody as he had no address and he had been produced seven days after his last remand to re-examine his bail position.

The Solicitor said that no bail hostel had been found and that she would therefore apply for bail again. She started off by saying that her Client had spent the last 10 years in prison after he served a sentence on a rape case and was returned to prison for breaching the terms of his licence conditions - not a good start in my opinion to highlight the Defendant's past and likely future failure to comply with Court orders etc. She then blamed his case on the Probation Service saying that they would not help him. Probation intervened and pointed out that he was returned to prison for not complying with their orders. Then the Solicitor said it was just unfair that her Client should stay in custody. During her address to the Court the Defendant had been trying to get her attention but she had simply waved at the Defendant saying, "Later".

The Defendant then asked to address the District Judge directly but he was told that he should make his comments through his solicitor or consider sacking her. I thought that the Defendant was going to follow the DJ's suggestion but unfortunately he bit hitongueue and kept quiet.

When the Defendant's case was adjourned for him to remain in custody for a full pre-sentence report the solicitor asked for a pre-trial review!? She wanted to check the progress on the case before it came back to Court properly for sentence. Her request was respectfully declined. When the hushed giggles around the Court stopped the Court Clerk called on the next case.

7 comments:

Jo said...

When you see this kind of so called representation taking place right before your eyes... well dont you just worry about the future of your profesion ?

Jo said...

sorry about the dreadful typos...

Bystander said...

There are certainly some appallingly under-competent solicitors out there, and they are not all young green ones either. We are also lumbered with some Crown Prosecutors who display little or no idea of what they are doing. They can just about present the facts in a guilty plea Drink-drive, but in any trial they are a liability.

Gavin said...

In every profession there are people who just do not know their backside from their elbow!

Anonymous said...

I think we're being a bit harsh (at least to the first solicitor) the client has stolen £76,000 from a solicitor. They can hardly expect another solicitor to be courageous in their defence. They should have used a barrister.

Don Cox said...

"In every profession there are people who just do not know their backside from their elbow!" ____ I think there are enough capable people around to staff one profession. Instead, they are thinly spread through about fifty.

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