Friday, September 30, 2005
After suffering travel delays I arrived at Court twenty minutes later than I had planned to arrive. I rushed in through the doors and was immediately confronted by a queue of twelve people who wanted to see me and a demanding own Client who was also demanding to see me.
I worked through the morning, lunch and was still going at 4.45pm. I dealt with many drink drive and failing to provide cases and a handful of other imprisonable offences. All in all it was a fairly productive day. As a result of the cases adjourned from today I have lodged six legal aid applications and if they all result in guilty pleas and standard fees then the firm I worked for has coined in more than £1,350 plus VAT, plustravelingg, plus waiting. Also there is the money that they earn as a result of me being Court Duty Solicitor, and that would have been close to £400 plus VAT. Not bad money for the cases and work generated from one day.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Despite my prompt arrival my case could not be dealt with early as the Prosecutor had some enquiries to conduct in my case before they could be ready.
I then looked around the waiting area and saw seven other solicitors sitting around waiting. From time to time they would take instructions but generally they were waiting like me. So for a period of time there were seven people all sitting waiting at legal aid rates of £26.30 per hour.
The Magistrates and Youth Court system (apart from trials and other specially scheduled hearings) work on a first come first served basis. The Court will schedule 20 or so cases in the list and when both the Defendants and legal representatives are ready they will go on the usher's list as being a ready case. Then each case on the ready list is called in to Court.
Success of getting a case dealt with early at Court is so random, and is sodependentt on factors outside of my control that I find the whole waiting situation so frustrating. The factors that can spoil a case being ready are things such as:
1. The prosecution not having the file or case papers.
2. The Defendant arriving at Court late.
3. If the Defendant is in custody Securicor/Premier bringing the Defendant late.
4. The usher taking cases out of order and giving preference to their 'preferred solicitor'.
5. The Court being really slow to deal with other cases.
6. A Co-defendant or Co-defendant's solicitor arriving at Court late.
7. The Court not having a file for the Defendant.
There is of course the possibility that the Defendant has not previously provided any instructions so you have to go through the case with them at Court meaning that you will be thrown in to the back end of the usher's ready case list when you are finally ready to go in to Court.
I have thought about this many times and have yet to come up with a decent suggestion as to how to eliminate all of this waiting around at Youth Courts or Magistrates Court. An obvious suggestion would be to move to the Crown Court system where Defendants are given staggered times across the morning and afternoon for cases to be dealt with. The random factors that plague the Youth Court and Magistrates Court system are likely to render the staggered system unworkable.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
With this advice in mind I still fail to understand why some of my Clients simply do not attend for their PSR interviews. I have heard all of the excuses under the sun. Some of my Clients fail to understand that where a PSR has been ordered considering all sentencing options, including prison, the fact that they fail to turn up to the PSR interview without a good excuse suggests that they are lazy and unlikely to comply with any other sentence supervised by the Probation Service.
What frustrates me about Clients who fail to attend at their appointment for their PSR interview is that I am usually left to explain to the Court why the interview did not take place as arranged. Sometimes the Court will refuse to adjourn the case further and they proceed to sentencing with only prison in mind.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I had dealt with the Police Station investigation for this case and had been present when the Client had been interviewed. I had told him to answer questions and he had put forward a less than convincing defence as to why he was riding around on a Â£3,000 motorbike that had been stolen less than 24 hours before his arrest.
When I turned up to Court I had the usual chat with the Prosecutor who seemed to have his doubts about the case. He kept telling me that my Client sounded very credible in interview. Eventually the Prosecutor decided to offer no evidence against my Client on the basis of what he had said, and the manner in which he had said, in interview. This was a case where my Client was being prosecuted for want of a better phrase joy riding. His defence was that he paid money for the motorbike that he was on, and he had no suspicion or knowledge that the bike was stolen. All he had said in interview was that he had paid a guy on the street a few hundred pounds for the bike.
The Prosecutor did offer no evidence against my Client, which was a good result. I cannot decide why the experienced Prosecutor offered no evidence as his case was reasonably strong, perhaps he has a good trial record to protect and did not want to suffer a loss, perhaps he wanted a quick afternoon free of a trial so he could go home, or perhaps he actuallybelievedd what a Defendant had said!
When the case was called on the interpreter was sworn in and before anything else was said the Judge said to defence counsel, "Very disappointing Mr. Bloggs." Mr. Bloggs replied, "Sorry your Honour?" Then the Judge asked if the Clients were UK residents. The Judge was told that the three Clients had all been UK residents for over 10 years. Then the Judge laid in to the Clients who did not speak English saying that it was very disappointing that they had come to and been in the UK for over 10 years and had not even made the effort to learn English, and that they had not made the effort to integrate within English society. At this point most of the jaws of people in the Court room had hit the floor as they could not believe what was being said.
The Judge fell short of making any racist remarks but clearly left everyone with the opinion that if anyone had failed to integrate with society it was probably the Judge. He did not take the time to understand that one of the Clients had such a poor education in their country of origin that they could not read or write in their native language. The Judge also failed to appreciate that the second defendant using the interpreter did speak some English, but had the interpreter not been present he would have undoubtedly been unable to follow the Court proceedings with phrases and words being banded around such as 'indictment', 'lie on file', or 'basis of plea'.
Isn't it good that all members of our judiciary are fair and impartial for every case and defendant that they deal with?
Monday, September 26, 2005
Friday, September 23, 2005
Officer 1: ...She was stabbed in the neck by her boyfriend. It was touch and go for a while in hospital and after a few days the boyfriend turned up. He wanted to get in to her bed for a shag. The hospital would not have it so she asked me if she could leave. I said it was not up to me. She left with the boyfriend who nearly killed her. That's why I don't give a toss anymore, why should I?
Officer 2: Hmmm...
Officer 1: If they are going to get in to bed with the people who have just stabbed them why should they bother to turn up to Court?
Officer 2: Hmmm...
Officer 1: It does my head in.
My hearing today was to decide if my Client had accidentally struck his partner or whether he had really laid in to her and caused her moderate injuries by punching, kicking etc., etc.
The slightly odd thing about this hearing was that there had been two previous attempts to have the Newton hearing but the victim had failed to attend and had shown little interest in attending today. I say it is slightly odd for this scenario as people accused of domestic violence often say nothing when they are interviewed, they then plead not guilty at Court in the hope that the victim will not come to Court, or that the Prosecution will not have other evidence such as witnesses, photographs or hearsay applications that are capable of proving the case without the victim attending. I had not previously dealt with this Client before and had not worked on his file until I prepared for today's hearing.
I went off to Court expecting the victim not to turn up again and for things to go my way. The victim did not turn up, but eventually the Court ran out of time to deal with my case and at 4.45 pm it was decided that it was too late to deal with any issues arising from my case even though the victim had failed to attend again. A trial from the morning that had an estimate of 3 hours kept on going until past 4.45 pm. If that trial had finished on time my Client would have got his chance to argue that his basis of plea was correct.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Everytime I read the larger text books I come across some kind of bizarre criminal offence. Now these bizarre offences sometimes come in handy. Years ago I remember being at Tottenham Police Station and I was representing a youth who had been accused of theft of a pedal cycle. I had remembered seeing that there was an equivalent offence to joyriding for bicycles under s. 12(5) of the Theft Act 1968. After using this bizarre offence I managed to get my Client a caution instead of being charged with theft. They had not considered cautioning him as he already had cautions for theft (straightforward s. 1 of the Theft Act 1968), but they were happy to caution him where the caution was for a different offence.
Here are a few more offences that I have pulled out of the text books - ther older the offence the more bizarre it sounds. By the way these are all offences that are still currently available to be committed and punished for.
Section 36 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861: Obstructing or assaulting a clergyman or other minister in the discharge of his duties in place of worship or burial place, or on his way thither
Whosoever shall, by threats or force, obstruct or prevent or endeavour to obstruct or prevent, any clergyman or other minister in or from celebrating divine service or otherwise officiating in any church, chapel, meeting house, or other place of divine worship, or in or from the performance of his duty in the lawful burial of the dead in any churchyard or other burial place, or shall strike or offer any violence to, or shall, upon any civil process, or under the pretence of executing any civil process, arrest any clergyman or other minister who is engaged in, or to the knowledge of the offender is about to engage in, any of the rites or duties in this section aforesaid, or who to the knowledge of the offender shall be going to perform the same or returning from the performance thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour.
Section 3 of the Game Act 1831: Penalty for killing or taking game on certain days and during certain seasons—Penalty for laying poison to kill game
...If any person whatsoever shall kill or take any game, or use any dog, gun, net, or other engine or instrument for the purpose of killing or taking any game, on a Sunday or Christmas Day, such person shall, on conviction thereof before two justices of the peace, forfeit and pay for every such offence such sum of money, not exceeding [level 1 on the standard scale], as to the said justices shall seem meet,...; and if any person whatsoever shall kill or take any partridge between the first day of February and the first day of September in any year, or any pheasant between the first day of February and the first day of October in any year, or any black game (except in the county of Somerset or Devon, or in the New Forest in the county of Southampton) between the tenth day of December in any year and the twentieth day of August in the succeeding year, or in the county of Somerset or Devon, or in the New Forest aforesaid, between the tenth day of December in any year and the first day of September in the succeeding year, or any grouse commonly called red game between the tenth day of December in any year and the twelfth day of August in the succeeding year, or any bustard between the first day of March and the first day of September in any year, every such person shall, on conviction of any such offence before two justices of the peace, forfeit and pay, for every head of game so killed or taken, such sum of money, not exceeding [level 1 on the standard scale] as to the said justices shall seem meet,...; and if any person, with intent to destroy or injure any game, shall at any time put or cause to be put any poison or poisonous ingredient on any ground, whether open or inclosed, where game usually resort, or in any highway, every such person shall, on conviction thereof before two justices of the peace, forfeit and pay such sum of money, not exceeding [level 1 on the standard scale] as to the said justices shall seem meet...
Section 35 of the Malicious Damage Act 1861: 35 Placing wood, etc, on railway, taking up rails, etc, turning points, showing or hiding signals, etc, with intent to obstruct or overthrow any engine, etc
Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously put, place, cast, or throw upon or across any railway any wood, stone, or other matter or thing, or shall unlawfully and maliciously take up, remove, or displace any rail, sleeper, or other matter or thing belonging to any railway, or shall unlawfully and maliciously turn, move, or divert any points or other machinery belonging to any railway, or shall unlawfully and maliciously make or show, hide or remove, any signal or light upon or near to any railway, or shall unlawfully and maliciously do or cause to be done any other matter or thing, with intent, in any of the cases aforesaid, to obstruct, upset, overthrow, injure, or destroy any engine, tender, carriage, or truck using such railway, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be kept in penal servitude for life... or to be imprisoned...
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I went out tonight with a few friends and met up in Holborn. As we were having a quiet drink we were met by a number of barristers and two of their clerks from a chambers that I regularly instruct. The head clerk was out and he was walking around with a briefcase. I asked him what he carried in his briefcase as I doubted that he would take home any work. He told me that he basically carried around the diaries of five QCs, and that his main role in chambers was to ensure that his five QCs got to every case that they were supposed to be at.
This particular clerk is a nice character. He has obviously been very successful and is reaping the rewards of his hard work. He maintains a suntan by regular golfing holidays to Spain. He told me that after a chambers meeting it had been suggested by the more senior members of chambers that he should try to bring in some work from the Cayman Islands. Apparently the Cayman Islands has the same legal system as the UK. He then told me that he is due to fly out to the Cayman Islands soon for a three week trip designed to network and drum up business for his five QCs and other members of chambers.
Now I wonder when I will pick up a serious fraud case that requires a trip to the Cayman Islands that is being funded by legal aid?
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I arrived early and was ready with my Client early. My Client was due to be sentenced but due to a lack of a pre sentence report my Client's case was undoubtedly going to be adjourned. I had to wait over one and a half hours to get called in to Court to spend five minutes asking for an adjournment.
Monday, September 19, 2005
This particular case has troubled me for some time. The case concerns a house being used as a cannabis factory kitted out with hydroponic lighting. The evidence against my Client is that he is seen walking out of the house holding two bin liners stuffed full of fresh cannabis leaves. Also his finger print is found inside the house. His instructions prior to the Prosecution serving their forensic evidence was that he was never in the house. Since the forensic evidence has been served my Client has failed to account for his finger print in any way but refuses to accept that the evidence is so strong that he will be convicted.
The conversation at the conference today went something like this:
Me: The evidence against you is overwhelming.
Client: I know, but, I am not pleading guilty.
Me: The evidence is so strong you will be convicted at trial.
Me: Why is your finger print in the property?
Client: I don't know.
Me: How did it get there?
Client: I don't know.
Me: C'mon, at least explain what your finger print is doing there?
Client: I don't know how it got there.
Me: Is it your finger print?
Client: I guess so.
Barrister: If you get convicted after a trial you will go to prison for longer than you would if you pleaded guilty.
Client: I know.
Barrister: You could serve a long time in prison.
Me: Are you insane? Do you not understand what I am saying?
Client: I understand. I am not pleading guilty.
So my mad client decided to maintain his not guilty plea despite my advice that he will undoubtedly be convicted at trial. He seems to understand the advice I am giving him but he refuses, for reasons unknown to myself, to change his plea to get a lesser sentence. Even if my Client is innocent he has not provided me with the evidence, or the leads, I need to help him fight the case. This is one case of legal suicide.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
I have been to a number of these meetings and they were well attended at the beginning. Tonight representatives from just four firms attended! The chap organising the group had sent letters to all of the local firms doing legally aided criminal defence work.
We found ourselves in a difficult position trying to discuss whether or not the local group should consider strike action, after 30 seconds we decided that our meeting was pointless because we could not make a decision on behalf of the local area as only four firms were represented.
We quickly disbanded with the chap who had made considerable efforts over the past few weeks to organise the group telling someone who had rung him on his mobile phone, "I can't be arsed any more, what's the point?"
I left rather disappointed. I had been impressed when I had learnt that this group had formed as it was one of the rare times I had seen solicitors actually doing something positive to stand up for themselves and the rights of their Clients. I guess we will go back to criticising change and fighting amongst ourselves instead of helping each other.
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.
The Bar strike is less than three weeks away, and I am going to predict now that the Bar strike is going to be called off. The Bar Council recently published a letter that has been circulated to it's members, part of that letter reads as follows:
"Early contacts with Lord Carter give us cause for some cautious optimism that he values the contribution that an independent referral profession of advocates makes to the criminal justice system, and that his recommendations will seek to build on the achievements of the existing GFS. There is no doubt that Lord Carter will be astute to identify and eradicate the inefficiencies in the trial system, but I believe that we will all have much the same object in this regard, since the elimination of inefficiency enables skill and effort to be fairly and properly rewarded."
"There is still a long way to go, but my team and I are intending to finalise an initial submission to put forward to Lord CarterÂs secretariat in the middle of September 2005."
I believe that anannouncementt will be made on the Bar Council web site before 3rd October 2005 stating that the Bar have called off the strike whilst they wait for the Carter Review to announce recommendations.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Lennie my take is, "Oh, my god!". It is bad enough that our Government meddles with the criminal justice system with crackpot ideas that are not thought through or costed properly, but for the EU to suddenly decide that they have the power to create criminal offences and then enforce punishment of those offences without our approval is crazy. I would like to know how the EU thinks it is going to enforce these new laws without the help of our legal system. It is all well and good the EU taking the United Kingdom to Court and punishing them financially for failing to enforce EU laws but I cannot see how our Courts are suddenly going to bend over to accommodate EU law.
This is an interesting development that I expect will receive harsh political criticism and invoke a fierce debate over the next few weeks. I am confident that the Courts all the way up to the House of Lords will do what they can to limit this decision by finding some way to ignore it.
Monday, September 12, 2005
I went off to Court today slightly unsure what an informal pre-trial review might involve. When I arrived at Court I was directed inside the building towards the Court's library. I have very rarely been inside of this particular Magistrates Court so it was a bit of a surprise to have a pre-trial review outside of a court room. I was ushered by the Court's security staff to a waiting area within the Court and sat waiting in a plush chair which was far nicer than the furniture that I usually sit on waiting.
When my name was called out I was escorted in to the Court library and sat down on one side of a conference table. At the head of the table was one of the Court Clerks. On the other side of the table was one CPS lawyer and then six females who I had not seen before. It was explained to me by the Clerk that the Court was running a trial readiness pilot and that in addition to the Crown Prosecution Service and myself being present there were also representatives from the six criminal justice areas served by the Court. Good idea I thought. We went through the pre-trial review without any major hitches. The Clerk did state that the hearing was to be considered a hearing, that he would use his delegated powers to make directions if necessary, and that the hearing was taking place under the Courts Crest.
Now I know what an informal pre-trial review is. Apparently there are going to be more and more of these hearings - what joy!
Saturday, September 10, 2005
- Home Office consultation on the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Codes of Practice that deal with stop and search, search of premises, detention, interviews, identification, and now arrests.
- Sentencing Advisory Panel's consultation on sentencing in criminal cases of assaults and other offences against the person.
- Home Office consultation on victim's advocates so that families of murder or manslaughter victims can have a voice in court.
- Home Office consultation on whether a new criminal offence should be created to deal with forced marriages.
- Department for Constitutional Affairs consultation paper on, "The Delegation of Powers by Justices' Clerks to Non Legally Qualified Staff in Magistrates' Courts in England and Wales".
The problem with all of these consultation papers is that they take a considerable amount of time to read, consider, and then prepare an answer to. There may be consultation papers on legal issues that I have omitted to mention that have been issued recently, but as far as I am concerned the above five papers are the most important to my profession.
I probably should respond to all of the papers but I doubt that I will have the time to put together a reasoned and sensible response for any more than one of them. After working a grueling five day week, I often have out of hours work commitments with Police Stations to attend to, and if there is any time at the weekend I try to see my wife and children. Thankfully there are professional bodies that submit responses to these consultations. I am a great believer in voicing my opinion on matters, and I particularly like to be able to stand up and whinge about new changes in the law where I have objected to those changes. I shall try my best to respond to the consultations but there are simply too many at the present time.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
On Tuesday the trainee solicitor discovered that a large blood stained machete had been left in her recycling bin by her front door. She had telephoned the Police and she had been told that a Police Officer would come and collect the knife. As a Police Officer had not collected the knife by Wednesday morning the trainee then phoned the Police again and asked what she should do about the dangerous weapon left on her doorstep. She was told not to worry and that she should consider bringing it in to the Police Station. The trainee stated that she may inadvertently destroy evidence if she moved the machete and did not want to walk around London holding what was an offensive weapon. Then the trainee was told that the knife incident was on a list of things to do by the Police, and it ranked as 90th it the list of priorities.
The trainee was quite concerned that the Police did not appear to be concerned about collecting the knife or do anything that appeared to look like they were investigating the stabbing. What concerns me is that the Police seem to have left the crime, and that means there will be one less potential arrest for me to deal with!
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
I had seen the Client whom I was defending on a number of occasions and knew the case inside out. The allegation from the victim was that my Client had arrived at the victim's home uninvited, slapped her several times, dragged her out of bed, down the stairs and in to the street where it was alleged that she had been kicked repeatedly. The medical evidence suggested that she had tenderness to her head and a sore arm but nothing else. My Client's instructions were that he had argued with the victim and she had fallen over when she went to grab my Client when he was leaving. Even if my Client had not been telling the truth his instructions were more consistent with the medical evidence than the victim's.
I met my Client early and discussed his case, then the Officer in the Case arrived and I spoke with him. He said he had not spoken with the victim recently and believed that she had gone AWOL. Within minutes the case had been called on, the Prosecutor offered no evidence and the case was dismissed against my Client. In fact it happened so quickly that my Client was confused about what had happened.
I left Court rather disappointed that I had not had the chance to get stuck in to the case and some good cross examination. Recently my success rate with contested cases has gone through the roof, the only problem is the cases keep falling apart before the first prosecution witness is called.
Monday, September 05, 2005
The VIPER (Video Identification Parade Electronically Recorded) system is very simple. In stage one the Client has a video clip captured of his head and shoulders. Stage two is where the Client selects eight other similar clips to create a composite video of nine clips to be shown to the witness. These eight other clips come from a massive Police database of volunteers who have actually been paid to have their video recording captured - these volunteers are referred to by us in the business as stooges. Stage three is where the witness views the composite vide and tries to identify the Client.
Today I was at an ID Suite viewing a composite video prior to a witness watching the video. I have seen many of the stooges held on the Police database but time after time one particular youth stooge is rolled out. He has a particularly evil look about him and if a witness was looking at a video containing his clip they are likely to identify this stooge as he simply looks like a criminal. I do not know how many stooges the Metropolitan Police have on their system but I seem to be seeing the same stooges more regularly.
After having a small wager with the civilian staff member that was assisting with the parade that the evil stooge was going to be picked out I sat and waited for the witness to arrive. After half an hour the Police telephoned the witness to find out where they were and the reply that was given was that the witness had not attended because they did not know how to get to the ID Suite. The witness did confirm that they had been sent a map with directions. I was amused by this response as the witness was clearly reluctant to assist the Police. I was sat in the ID Suite and the witness lived less than a mile away, I have no doubt that he could have found the Police Station if he had chosen to look at the map.
Today was another waste of time. Despite the poor excuse given by the witness the case has been postponed for another viewing next week on the basis that the witness will attend then!
Sunday, September 04, 2005
This is a ridiculous idea that I dismissed several months ago as sheer lunacy, and now it looks like our daft Government wants to consider the proposal as a reality. Thankfully the Government has dropped the idea of a victim's advocate for other serious cases such as rape.
I cannot see how an advocate for the family of a victim of murder or manslaughter can add to the Court proceedings. It is already established practice for the Police and other Government agencies to liaise with these families. In some cases impact statements are produced by the families and are given to Judge's before a Defendant is sentenced.
I have not yet read the consultation paper in full but it does seem to keep away from the idea of involving these victim's advocates in a trial process. So if an advocate represents the family at the sentence hearing how will they know what was proved at trial, or whether there was a basis of plea etc.? Surely the family will push the version of events known to them as opposed to the version agreed within the Court?
MY biggest gripe about this foolish enterprise is how are these advocates going to be paid? The government has said for years that the legal aid budget has finite resources and in the past year or so there have been dramatic announcements by the Department for Constitutional Affairs telling barristers and solicitors that they must put up with pay cuts. Are the victims advocates going to be funded by the government in a system similar to prosecution work where there seems to be limitless resources?
It just strikes me as strange that there is already a framework in place for victim's families t be supported and informed about the progress of a prosecution. If this system is not working why not revamp the current system instead of bringing in an additional advocate to a Court hearing.
Is it right that the Government cuts the scope and availability of legal aid to Defendants, that it cuts rates of pay to defence solicitors and barristers, and then out money to victim's advocates when there is already provision for victim's families to have a voice in Court?
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Firstly the web site suggests that it will provide, "...Probably, the world's first and only service that will provide our readers with 24 hour on-line legal advice. Also we at the Criminal Information Agency are going to introduce a new and innovative way for our readers to find or locate a solicitor or barrister by introducing them to our legal advice and representation area of the website. This is truly a unique way of getting legal advice and legal representation." The web site is clearly aimed at criminal law and I have yet to come across many criminals who have chosen to instruct a solicitor or barrister on the strength of a web site. Most cases that are referred to me are by way of 'word of mouth' recommendations. Criminals are sometimes very picky about their solicitor and stick with their trusted solicitor for years. I know that my firm advertises extensively in local newspapers, the Yellow Pages and other local directories and every once in a while we will pick up a case on the basis of advertising or even a web site.
Lastly I do not think there are 40,000 barristers in England and Wales who practice in criminal law, although I could be wrong. If someone is looking for a solicitor they can simply use the Law Society's 'Find A Solicitor' section of their website to locate a solicitor that undertakes criminal work in their local area. Why advertise when the Law Society provides this functionality for free?
Good luck Mr. Coxton on your venture.