Thursday, September 15, 2005

What A Mess

One of the cases I dealt with today was a pre-trial review for two Clients who were appearing in the Youth Court. The case had already been fixed for a two day trial and I dealt with a pre-trial review for this case about four weeks ago.

As this case involves youths as victims of crime their evidence has been recorded on video. Despite these recordings being made some eight weeks ago the Police Officer in the case appeared at Court today and handed a copy of the videos to the CPS and said that copies were being made for the defence and that we could get our copies tomorrow. The Prosecution then had the cheek to make a special measures application for the videos to be played in evidence at the trial. How can you make an application for the videos to be played when they have not been served? Criminal Procedure Rules r29.7 was used by me to fend off this ridiculous application. What made me chuckle about the application was the fact that whole parts of the written application were left empty because the Prosecution could not answer the standard questions as they had not seen the videos.

I really put the boot in today making scathing comments about the lack of professionalism displayed by the Criminal Justice Unit for the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. After making these comments I was handed a bundle of documents containing some new bits of disclosure.

When I had finished venting my anger I then applied to break the trial date as I stated there was probably insufficient time to properly prepare the case. The Prosecution objected and I never actually thought that the Court would break the trial date but I had to make the application in case I did actually suffer problems getting through the evidence, or getting instructions from my Client. It is better to have an early application that fails and it repeated closer to the time of the trial than just turning up to the trial trying to get it adjourned.

As this pre-trial review was being heard in front of a Clerk and not a bench or a district judge my application had to be transferred to another Court. I only had to wait two hours and ten minutes for the other Court to call my case on!

I cited many varied reasons to break the trial date and then the Prosecutor suggested having 14 working days was more than enough to prepare a trial, and if necessary I could work at weekends or see my Clients after normal office hours. The Co-defendant's representative was rather amusing, he did not seem to understand that the victim's evidence would be on a video and he kept demanding copies of their statements. Once he had managed to understand the concept of special measures he then demanded videos and transcripts that were going to be served tomorrow.

The result of all of the mud slung around Court was that the case was adjourned for a pre-trial review next week to check progress of the case. I am getting ready for round two of the mud slinging if the Prosecution fail to come up trumps with their promises made at today's hearing.

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