Monday, May 29, 2006

Lock 'Em Up

A rather interesting article has appeared in the Times today. This article suggests that the government policy of locking people up for short periods of time and then supervising them in the community for long periods of time is not going to work. The reason given for this policy not working is the simple fact that our prisons are currently stuffed full of prisoners and the system is struggling to cope.

Custody plus is a new type of sentence that is expected to come in to effect in November of this year:

Under "custody plus", offenders must be given between two and thirteen weeks in jail followed by at least six months probation on their release. Officials now fear that the introduction of the new sentence could lead to a further jump in the prison population because magistrates and judges will prefer to give an offender a short taste of prison rather than giving them a non custodial sentence.

The article concludes:

At the moment the Prison Service is 1,860 spaces short of being full, but last month Phil Wheatley, the director-general of the service, gave a clear warning of his concern about the future when he asked whether the planned 80,000 capacity for the system would be enough to deal with the numbers being dealt with by the courts. He admitted that the Prison Service was "very tight for room". Mr Wheatley added in an interview with Police Review: "“As long as I am not being asked to lock up more people than I can safely lock up, then I am OK. The question for the future is whether this is going to be sufficient?" Harry Fletcher, the assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said yesterday: "There are real fears that magistrates will use it [custody plus] as an alternative to giving people a non-custodial penalty."

Now if you add in to the mix that there have also been other changes to the criminal justice sentencing system in recent years the problem is going to get worse. As a result of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 suspended prison sentences are now easier to get. The requirements for a suspended prison sentence have been relaxed. A suspended prison sentence is basically a prison sentence that hangs over a persons head for a defined period of time. Should that person offend again during the suspension period they can be sent to prison. For example if Mr. Burglar received a suspended prison sentence of 6 months suspended for 12 months he would have to keep out of trouble for 12 months to ensure that his prison sentence of 6 months was not activated.

Suspended prison sentences are now usually imposed in addition to a community order that requires the offender to complete community service (what they now call unpaid work in the community) and or be subject to supervision (what they used to call probation). The problem with adding in community service or probation to a suspended prison sentence is that once you are in breach of either the community service or probation your prison sentence can be activated as you have not complied with the Court's sentence.

I had three or four suspended prison sentences handed out last week, they are becoming quite common for certain offences. There is therefore a growing number of people who are subject to suspended prison sentences, and a large percentage of these people will undoubtedly fail and be brought back before the Courts. As these numbers grow there will again be a problem that the Prison Service cannot cope with the number of people that are being sent to prison.

It was only a few weeks ago that the Lord Chief Justice gave a well thought out speech stating that short, sharp shocks do not work.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tiring Work

I have completed a stint of Court Duty Solicitor work this week. I was the Court Duty Solicitor for my local Magistrates Court from Monday through to Saturday. Court Duty work is always interesting as you are thrown a variety of interesting cases to deal with. Some of this weeks highlights were:

1. The man from the Czech republic who was in Court for various motoring offences, one of which was imprisonable. He had been convicted in his absence of a number of things. He told me that he did hold valid insurance etc. I told him to go home and get his insurance document over the lunch period, and told him that he must come back to Court. He disappeared and never returned. As a warrant has now been issued for his arrest he will come before the Court for another Court Duty Solicitor to represent him.

2. The man who had not paid his fines since 2001 and claimed that he suffered from Alzheimer's. His medical condition afforded him a great defence to non payment of his fines. The Court could only send him to prison for non-payment of fines if they generally thought he had decided not to pay them, or had been negligent in the way he had not paid them. As this Client was giving evidence on oath that he had forgotten to pay them the Crown Prosecutor leant over to me and said rather cynically, "People will go to such lengths to avoid paying their fines. I bet he read about this condition in Take A Break magazine."

3. The man who had breached his community service and said that he could not complete his community service whilst the people who had stabbed him recently were also completing their community service. Unfortunately the Court did not accept this as a 'reasonable excuse' and his community service was revoked and he was resentenced to prison.

I was also on a 24 hour Police Station Duty Solicitor rota yesterday meaning that I have now completed another seven day working stint. No rest for the wicked eh?

Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.

Anyone who has ever studied law will have come across the case of Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company. I received an email from a new Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. that is selling gifts for lawyers. This post is nothing but blatant advertising for the Carbolic Smoke Ball Co., but if you are after a quirky legal gift then look no further.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Most Morose Lawyer On The Web

This blog sometimes gets a mention in the press. Over the past few months this blog has been mentioned in the Times, the Sun, and now The Lawyer has described me as the most morose lawyer on the web for my glum contributions. After reading this article I checked on the definition of morose: "Sullenly melancholy; gloomy."

The life of a criminal solicitor can be a difficult one, life does sometimes appear to be gloomy when you are stuck at a Police Station in the small hours of the morning, but working in crime means that life is never boring.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How Not To Impress A Court

I have spent a number of days this week as the Court Duty Solicitor generally representing Clients who have been held in custody by the Police and put before the Court, or Clients on bail who have a sufficiently serious case to warrant legal representation.

I had the joy, today, of representing a Client who was in custody. He had been accused of a domestic assault, and had similar previous convictions. He denied being involved in the allegation and decided that he would plead not guilty. We then discussed bail and my Client told me that he wanted to apply for bail. After a consultation I had his case called on.

When my Client appeared in the dock he stood as many young males do with his hands down his trousers. The District Judge presiding over my Client's case looked over and shook his head, then he said, "Take your hands out of your..." he then stopped and did not seem to have the words to finish the sentence. My Client was then asked for his address, he replied by naming a large British city as opposed to his house number, road name, and town.

The rest of the hearing continued in much the same vein. My Client would heckle from time to time, his best heckling moment was when the Prosecutor stated that my Client had declined to answer questions in interview and when asked to comment on the allegation he replied to the Police, "It's bollocks". Upon hearing this my Client heckled, "Yeah, it's bollocks".

I did my duty and applied for bail. My bail application was refused, as expected.

My client could have enhanced his chances of success by appearing to actually care about his case in the dock, and by conducting himself in the dock that would suggest he was respectful of the Courts powers and therefore could possibly be trusted to abide by bail conditions. Unfortunately his whole demeanor suggested that he did not care and that he would not stick to bail conditions because of his lack of respect for procedure and rules. Although conducting himself in a respectful manner would not have been a good reason for granting him bail it would have at least been one small foundation upon which I could have based other arguments for bail.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Gravy Train

An article appeared in today's Guardian with the headline "Legal aid bill for parole board challenges tops £2m". There are some quotes in this article:

The legal aid bill for human rights' challenges by prisoners to parole board decisions has soared tenfold in the last five years to more than £2m, according to official figures released yesterday.


Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, last night said: "Recent changes in the law should not be a gravy train for lawyers . What we need are short, effective hearings which allow both sides to examine reasons for parole decisions."


David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth, who ferreted out the figures, said: "It is appalling that because of human rights laws so much taxpayers' money is being spent on allowing prisoners to be legally represented to argue their case before the parole board."

I do understand why articles like this are printed. Firstly lawyers who defend people accused of, and sometimes convicted of, crimes are easy targets. Secondly prisoners are easy targets.

The government has established a system whereby the Parole Board has hearings to determine if certain prisoners can be released. I will generalise here, but, the current system of parole kicks in when a prisoner who has been given a sentence of four years or more in prison has served between half of his sentence to two thirds of his sentence. Between the half way point and the two thirds point he can apply for parole. Provided that the prisoner is not subject to more rigorousus sentence then he must be released after serving two thirds of his sentence anyway.

So once a year a prisoner is able to apply for parole. If he is not granted parole he has to wait another year before he can apply for parole again unless he reaches the two thirds point of his sentence and is released automatically. Bearing in mind that a prisoner has one chance a year to put his case to the Parole Board he should be entitled to some help. Generally speaking us solicitors can be granted funding of up to £1,500 to represent prisoners at these hearings. We do not get paid £1,500 per case, we can submit a claim for up to £1,500. The Parole Board are experts in their field. Prisoners are prisoners and most are of substandard intelligence, many suffer from mental health issues, and do not have the ability to put their case to the Parole Board.

If the government or elected MPs really do think that system is so unfair for prisoners to be represented at parole hearings then they are free to draft new legislation to get rid of the funding for solicitors, or create another system whereby prisoners are barred from having legal representation at their hearing. The government will not change the rules because they know at the end of the day it is only fair that once a year prisoners are given some help in how to present their case to the Parole Board.

Mr. Clegg and Mr. Davies you should know better than to take cheap shots at prisoners. Mr. Clegg it is not a gravy train, it is legally aided work, have a look at the number of criminal defence, or even prison law, firms that are still in practice, that number will decrease over the year and will continue to decrease because criminal law and prison law is not a gravy train. Mr. Davies if you think it iappallinguling to let prisoners be represented at Parole Hearings by legally aided solicitors then why have you not put a private members bill before Parliament to change the current system?

Rant over.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tendering Opportunities

I regularly visit the Legal Services Commission web site and recently I have noticed a section on Tendering Opportunities.

When the CDS Direct telephone advice scheme was set up people had grave concerns that non solicitors would be advising suspects at the Police Station over the phone, and that the quality of the advice would be likely to suffer as those involved in providing advice were going to be in a call centre type environment. There has yet to be a fundamental review of the CDS Direct telephone advice scheme, and I am eagerly awaiting publication of the Legal Service Commission's findings saying that it was an astounding success (I am not so sure that it is a success).

I have now noticed that on the Legal Services Commission's web site their tendering opportunities refers to outsourcing telephone advice schemes. At present their is only information on a civil version but undoubtedly the CDS Direct telephone advice scheme will be tendered for outsourcing. The information on the Legal Services Commission web site states:

The types of people or organisations we may be looking to work with include:

  • legal aid solicitors

  • not-for-profit organisations

  • other commercial organisations and individuals.

There are some large 'national' firms of legal aid solicitors, there are relatively few not-for-profit organisations, and there are obviously many, many other commercial organisations and individuals. Should the CDS Direct telephone advice scheme be put up for tender I cannot see a firm of solicitors having the resources, IT infrastructure, or ability to tender for such work - therefore it is going to go to 'other commercial organisations and individuals'. When such work goes out to these commercial organisations it will no doubt be tendered on price, and the lower the price the more likely the tender will be accepted. If people had grave concerns about the Legal Services Commission running the CDS Direct telephone advice scheme then they should have even graver concerns should this work be tendered and outsourced.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Keep Your Mouth Shut

I dealt with a trial recently where I was able to secure an acquittal for my Client. There is a saying that the Prosecution case is at it's weakest when the prosecution close their case. The rationale behind this saying is that when a Defendant gives evidence in their own trial they often put their foot in it and ruin the good work that has been done before they enter the witness box.

My case had been well prepared by a colleague and the tactics in the case were simple. There were two prosecution witnesses who would give an account that blamed my Client for a public disorder matter. Then my Client followed by two young witnesses would give their account disagreeing with the Prosecution version of events. It would then be in the hands of the Magistrates to decide whether the case had been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

I got to Court early and had a conference with my Client. I referred my Client's witnesses to the witness service who told them what to expect in Court. I then explained the trial procedure to my Client and gave him some general pointers on how to conduct himself in the witness box:

1. Do not argue with the Prosecutor.
2. Be polite and reasonable at all times.
3. Do not mention your previous convictions.

My Client had three convictions for the same offence for which he was on trial for. I do not know why the Prosecution had not made an application to adduce his bad character at trial, but it may well have had something to do with the fact that the prosecution witnesses also had previous convictions.

The trial was going according to plan until my Client got in to the witness box. The prosecution witnesses had stuck to their statements, but in doing so I had exploited a number of small inconsistencies. My Client got in to the witness box and seemed to forget all of the advice that I had given him. He argued with the Prosecutor, he did not appear to be reasonable, and worst of all he claimed that he was not the kind of person to commit a public order offence. I cringed at this point and noticed that the Prosecutor was looking at his previous convictions. In the normal course of events the Prosecutor would have stood up when dealing with cross examination and asked my Client to confirm what he had said to the Court, then ask him if he has previous convictions and then hand to the Court a copy of those convictions to correct a false impression given to the court. For some reason the Prosecutor did not do this, and I have no idea why.

After the Defendant had been cross examined his two young witnesses gave evidence. My closing speech consisted of the observation that five different accounts had been given to the Court and in those circumstances they Court should not convict. Thankfully the Magistrates agreed with my reasoning. I am pretty sure that the Magistrates decision would have been different if my Client's bad character had been made known to the Court.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Too Young To Be Locked Up?

When is a person too young to be locked up? A few weeks ago I had the unenviable task of representing a 12 year old who was in serious danger of being sent to a Secure Training Centre (a prison for all intents and purposes) for a series of offences. The Client was appearing in Court for breaching previous sentences and for a handful of new offences.

For the hearing the local Youth Offending Team had produced a report which showed that the Client had a pretty poor home life. He was quite regularly hit by his father. He had a number of siblings that were also getting in to trouble. The problem with this Client was that they had not helped themselves by doing stupid things like cutting off their tag when being tagged was part of their sentence.

As my Client was in breach of previous sentences he was due to have those previous sentences revoked so that he would be resentenced for all of the old matters as well as the new matters. I totted up the offences and there were about 7 or 8 matters in total. Each offence by itself did not really warrant a prison sentence. Even with the offences added together they did not warrant a prison sentence. But throw in to the mix the fact that the Client had breached previous orders that were attempts to curb his criminal behaviour and then I had a problem.

I did feel slightly uncomfortable dealing with this case because I knew that the Client was going to be given a custodial sentence. I knew that there was notihng I could do to stop the inevitable sentence being passed. I mitigated on behalf of my Client saying that he had not had the opportunities that other children had, that he had a miserable life at home because of his father, that he attended at a school for problem children and that in such an environment he was unable to learn because others disrupted his education. Essentially I explained that my Client had been brought up in an environment where petty criminal behaviour was acceptable, and that he had no chance in life to escape the path he had been lead down because that path had been established by his family and his siblings.

Ultimately my Client was given the minimum prison sentence that a youth in the Youth Court can get, that being 4 months in custody. As a 12 year old my Client will go to a secure training centre. Since my Client was sentence I have spoken to the Youth Offending Team and they have told me that the Client is getting on really well in the Secure Training Centre because he has escape his family.

Many of you reading this posting will think that I sound foolish making the comments that I have, and that if the Client has committed the crime he should do the time. You are right. But where this Client has had little chance to develop as a well adjusted law abiding citizen because his family does not live up to those values he was always going to end up in prison.

Rant over...

Monday, May 15, 2006

This Weekend Was Murder

Most people think of solicitors as being 'Fat Cats' who earn lots of money for actually doing very little work. Us criminal solicitors are often at the bottom of the pile when it comes to earning money and we do not rank anywhere near our 'City' friends who deal in commercial property transactions, or large corporate mergers and acquisitions. Criminal solicitors usually work at legal aid rates so they will not turn away work that is shunted in their direction. More work means more money, and as legal aid rates are not great it is necessary to do as much work as possible.

This weekend was non-stop work for me, and it was murder.

My weekend started at 4.32 pm on Friday when I was informed that there was a Client who had been refused bail from the Police Station and was going to be in Court on Saturday morning. I was on my firm's Court for this Saturday and therefore was going to be in Court. So Saturday morning I made my way to Court to try to deal with my Client in custody. I arrived at Court early so that I could be in and out of Court as quickly as possible - this trick usually works on a Saturday. Unfortunately the CPS file was not ready when I was so I had to wait for a few hours. After my Client's case had been called on, with bail being refused, I managed to see my Client again and leave Court about 1.00 pm.

On this same Saturday at 6.00 am I had started my 24 hour Duty Solicitor Police Station slot to deal with anyone arrested in my local area who wanted legal representation at the Police Station but did not have a specific firm to represent them already. I had been receiving calls whilst I was at Court about a person in custody. I left Court and drove immediately to deal with this person at the Police Station.

Part of my weekend plans also included dealing with another Client bailed to appear at a local Police Station mid afternoon on Saturday. In fact the time for the bail appointment was 3.00 pm which was kick off time for the FA Cup Final. I was fortunate enough that this appointment was cancelled and I was able to see the whole of the Cup Final.

In the late afternoon I then received a call from the Duty Solicitor Call Centre, a person spoke to me with a very broad accent which I could not understand. I managed to get the Client's name spelt to me and I was told where they were being detained, but at the time I could not work out what they had been arrested for. I telephoned the Police Station and was told that the Client had been detained for murder. During the same telephone conversation I was also given details of three other people in custody who had asked for the Duty Solicitor.

I went straight down to the Police Station to deal with the new murder Client and whilst I had various conversations with the investigating Officers, various consultations with my Client, and an interview, my phone kept ringing with my people wanting to be represented by the Duty Solicitor. By the end of Saturday night I had five Clients in custody at one Police Station, and another two in another local Police Station. Thankfully all of the Clients were to be interviewed the next day.

My firm has a 'Police Station Rota' so that over weekdays and weekends a person from my firm will deal with Police Station attendances out of office hours for a particular day. On Sunday I was due to hand over all of my Police Station Clients who were still in custody to a colleague on Sunday morning. As my murder Client was still in custody and I had dealt with their first round of interviews it was completely inappropriate for me to hand over the murder case to my colleague - I therefore had to work on the Sunday as well.

On Sunday morning I woke up and make about 10 phone calls. I spoke to my colleague who was on the firm's Police Station rota and they took the details of four Clients in one Police Station, I then managed to get another colleague to look after the two other Clients at another local Police Station. I then set off to complete my work with the murder Client. I spent most of Sunday at the Police Station and just after 5.30 pm I arrived at the barbecue that I had planned at being some weeks ago.

Sunday evening was spent sorting out the paperwork for the various people that I represented over the weekend, and spent preparing for a trial that I have on Monday. I now feel like I need a day off in the week to recover. As the title of this post suggests this weekend was murder.

Sarcastic Musings

A great article has appeared in today's Telegraph with the headline, "Concern for the criminal has hijacked the justice system". This article starts off with sarcastic musings over the Human Rights Act row that has erupted in the press recently. The article then goes on to examine criminality in today's society.

The article made me chuckle.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

How To Mitigate

Being an advocate requires some skill, you have to know what to say and when to say it. As the years go on you develop certain speeches to cover different situations. One of the skills you need to be a good advocate is to be able to think on your feet, when you are suddenly presented with a situation you need to know how to react, and how to put your case to the Court. I do not profess to be a good advocate, although I would like to think that I am.

Friday was interesting. I received a telephone call from one of my colleagues who was busy at my local Magistrates Court dealing with a trial. My colleague phoned me and asked if I could come down to Court to deal with two Clients to be sentenced as their case had slipped through our diary system and there was nobody at Court to represent them. I picked up the file for the two Clients and got down to Court. As I walked in to the Court room I was asked by the District Judge who was sitting if I was ready to deal with the case. I explained that there had been a mix up with the Court diary, that I was sorry for the mistake, and that I would be as quick as I could with the Clients so that I did not unduly delay the Court. The Clients that I was representing were due to be sentenced for a fight in a bar, and their case was sufficiently serious to warrant prison sentences. The District Judge asked me how long I would need. Bearing in mind I had to locate the pre-sentence reports for each Client, find the Clients, read through each pre-sentence report, go through each pre-sentence report with the Clients, take each Client's instructions on the pre-sentence report, and generally familiarise myself with the case prior to being ready I asked for thirty minutes. The District Judge commented that I would only need five minutes with each Client, and then he graciously gave me twenty minutes to prepare the case.

I got to work straight away, and by this time I was flying by the seat of my pants as everything had to be done properly and done very quickly. I managed to locate my Clients and go through their reports. Thankfully my Clients did not have any objections to the contents of their reports. I explained that sentencing would be difficult and that custody could not be ruled out, but advised that in my opinion community penalties would be imposed.

I then walked in to Court and minutes later my case was called on. By this time I just about had a good enough grasp of the case to put forward my Clients mitigation. My case was then called on and as the Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor gave the facts of the case he pulled out a copy of a DVD of CCTV footage of the incident. He then requested that this footage be played to the District Judge. There were no possible grounds for me to object to the CCTV being played so I graciously said to the District Judge, "No Sir, of course I do not object to you viewing the CCTV".I then saw my two Clients behaving like animals in a bar - at this stage my planned mitigation changed in my head.

I got to my feet to mitigate and went through the standard speech for mitigation. I complemented my Clients on their glowing pre-sentence reports, I discussed their current family relationships, and current employment positions. I then had to explain why one Client should not be recalled to prison because this offence had been committed during a period of time when he was still completing an unexpired sentence. I then had to explain for the other Client that throwing a chair at someone in the bar should not be considered to be an aggravating feature of the offence because the chair did not actually hit the person! At this point I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel! I then had a moment of clarity, I thought that I would mention the Lord Chief Justice's speech "Alternatives to Custody - The Case For Community Sentencing". The mere mention of this speech seemed to enrage the District Judge as he embraced the idea of short, sharp sentencing practices being highly relevant to my particular case.

My job was made easier at one point by the district Judge as he told me that he was going to follow the recommended sentence in the pre-sentence report for one Client, and that sentence was a community penalty. He then said that he was going to deal with the other Client in a wholly different way, I assumed this to mean custody. I banged on for a bit and then noticed that the District Judge was listening to every word that I said about the second Client's young children. I pulled out the good father speech and sat down. I had done my job, if I continued to mitigate I would bore the District Judge. I had in the short time I had been at Court got to grips with the case and delivered the mitigation that my Client's both should have had and wanted. They looked at me from the dock and both nodded their heads to show that they were happy with my work.

My first Client received a community penalty. The District Judge then pronounced his sentence for the second Client and told him that the offence was so serious that only prison was a suitable sentence. The Usher in Court picked up the telephone to call the cells to send up custody staff to take away my second Client, but as the Usher picked up the phone the District Judge said that he would suspend the prison sentence due to the second Client having young children.

My job was done, my Clients had both avoided prison. As my Client's shook my hands complimenting me on my advocacy and walked away I could not help thinking how lucky I had been as this case could have gone horribly wrong as I had had no time to prepare the mitigation on behalf of my Clients.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Well Said

The Lord Chief Justice gave a speech recently when he spoke about the need for more appropriate sentences. He eloquently said in two paragraphs of his speech:

"In arguing the merits of alternatives to custody, I have been concerned to demonstrate that these are in the interests of victims, of potential victims and of society as a whole. There is a further point to make. They are in the interests of the offenders. I know that it is unfashionable to refer to the interests of offenders, as opposed to those of their victims. Of course, victims have the first claim on our sympathies and on our actions. But this does not mean that we must disregard the interests of offenders. For if we do not we can never hope to deal with the underlying reasons for offending behaviour. And it is this that is in all our interests."


"I have been talking about the large number of inadequate or damaged members of society for whom minor criminality is the only way of life they know. Short spells of imprisonment followed by re-offending is an expensive and ineffective way of dealing with these. Meaningful punishment in the community, coupled with a proper programme of rehabilitation, properly resourced and managed, must be the better option."

I am no liberal, and many of my Clients that are sent to prison do deserve to be there, but sometimes a Court will just get it wrong and impose a sentence that does not have any real effect. Sentencing is about punishment and rehabilitation. Once those presiding over cases in the Magistrates Courts learn that sending a repeat offender to prison for two weeks over a shop lifting matter is not a sentence that either punishes or rehabilitates we will all be in a better position. Clients that I deal with on a regular basis say that short custodial sentences are pointless because they are simply locked up for a few weeks and that is no deterrent to them. I am quite frankly very impressed that the Lord Chief Justice has got such a good understanding of the problems that defendants face, and that he is able to express a well considered opinion. Cure the underlying issues that caused the crime and you are likely to start to address reoffending behaviour.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Meet Mr. Loophole

Everyone has heard of Mr. Loophole, even if they do not know it consciously they will have heard about Mr. Loophole in the past. Mr. Loophole is a solicitor called Nick Freeman who specialises in road traffic cases using loopholes to secure the best possible result for his clients. Mr. Loophole is the solicitor who represents the rich and famous when they are in trouble with the law over road traffic matters.

Why am I talking about Mr. Loophole? Well, I have a trial coming up that relies on loopholes and complicated law if I am going to be successful in defending my Client.

I had a search around the world wide web looking for information on Mr. Loophole. He has his own web site The Guardian newspaper also conducted an interview with Mr. Loophole in January of this year. Mr. Loophole appears to be widely reported across the world wide web, he appears to be quite successful in representing his clients at present, and he certainly seems to be making a few pounds out of his enterprise.

Perhaps Mr. Loophole has found a niche area for criminal practitioners to consider working in. Most defendants in road traffic cases that do not involve major injury, or drink driving, or just plain dangerous driving, appear at Court unrepresented, and as they are unrepresented they are far more likely to plead guilty. Legal aid is not available for low level road traffic matters, and as such not many people come to me asking to be represented. Mr. Loophole may well have discovered a lucrative sideline that I will consider moving in to if I can win my Client's trial. Privately paying Clients are few and far between in the Magistrates Courts and Crown Courts of this land. If Carter has his way I will soon be paid less money for doing the same volume of legally aided criminal work - privately funded road traffic matters in the same Courts could be exactly what I am looking for.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Youth of Today

The Clients that I represent today are likely to turn in to Clients that I represent in the future as adults. I have represented a number of individuals over the past few weeks who seem to be on a very slippery slope and are likely to keep my firm very busy over the next few years. One particular Client appeared in the Youth Court for not complying with his supervision order, he was fortunate after he admitted this breach to be given a second chance. The youth then failed to comply with the requirements of his order again and at a later Youth Court hearing was sent in to youth detention (small people's prison) because the Court felt that he was going to fail again and again with any other sentence that they imposed. When I asked what could be said on my Client's behalf before the hearing the Client simply shrugged their shoulders and said, "Dunno".

Clients turn up to Youth Court with the knowledge that they may be sent away to a Young Offenders Institution and say that they are happy to go away provided that their mate is going there too!

I was told recently that a youth attended at a meeting with a Youth Worker where he lost his temper, in addition to the youth assaulting the Youth Worker one of his parents smashed property in the Youth Worker's office!

At the moment the future is bright for my line of work, there is a generation of youths growing up who do not see custody as a deterrent. They do not comply with the sentences handed down by the Youth Court, and quite frankly they see Youth Court as a meeting place instead as a place to be worried about. As long as the Youths have a complete disregard for the law their offending is likely to get more and more violent until they progress to the stage of beating, stabbing and killing victims. If Mr. Clarke thinks he has a problem trying to keep track of foreign nationals who have been released from prison he has a nightmare scenario trying to keep track of a large part of a generation!