Archive for July 26th, 2006

Magisterial in the Magistrate’s Court

The Law West of Ealing Broadway blog – written anonymously by a magistrate is always worth a visit. I enjoyed the account of an East European, set upon by a thug, knifed and hospitalised, only to find himself up before the bench charged with possession of cannabis. The Police found a stash in his clothing which they took away for possible evidence.

This is what the magistrate said in his blog…

“Well, what would you have done?

We decided that after being knifed, spending two weeks in hospital, and losing his stash as well as some of his limited stock of clothing, enough was enough.

Some would call our Conditional Discharge a wimp-out. We thought it was pretty fair, in all the circumstances.”

Seems pretty fair to me. Why did the CPS bother to prosecute? Could this not have been dealt with by a caution? One commentator to the blog suggested that the prosecution was brought to improve crime resolution figures on the premise that it was a cut and dried matter and a conviction was assured. Is that commentator being cynical?

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Gary Slapper, writing in his Times Blog, draws our attention to the fact that 33 out of 68 women who applied were successful in the recent Silk round and draws attention to a case (and I quote) “in 1914, arising from an attempt of a woman to become a solicitor, even her lawyers dutifully accepted the proposition that women had no public functions, and that “in the camp, at the council board, on the bench, in the jury box there is no place for them”

Interestingly: 443 applications for silk were made, broken down as follows – barristers 431/ solicitors 12. (376 male / 66 female / 422 white / 21 non-white / 1 undeclared.) 33 women were successful. 4 solicitors were successful.
After all the fuss about the ‘anachronism, elitism, unfairness etc etc’ of the rank of QC from solicitors some years ago; one would have thought that there would have been a higher number of applications from solicitors.

According to a dca press release in November 2005 the criteria for selection are as follows: Integrity, understanding and using the law, analysing case material to develop arguments and focus the issues, persuading – communicating arguments, responding to unfolding case, working with the client, working in the team – criteria which, clearly, enables solcitors to apply on a reasonably even footing. (Unless I am missing the point)

Why so few applications from solicitors? Does the rank matter to solicitors anymore? It would be interesting to hear from solicitors on this.

EDIT 27 July:   You may be interested in this article in the Independent: The Big question – should we abolish QCs

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Cricket is one of my interests – watching it these days, rather than playing. With injury depleting the “Ashes winning” England Team – and a curious first test, which arguably, we threw away, I am looking forward to the next test against Pakistan.

I could not resist this story from The Mirror “Every player in team gets a duck.” Goldsborough second XI achieved this distinction the other day. All their batsmen were caught without making any runs – which means they at least got the bat to the ball. Goldsborough received 5 runs from byes. Their opponents scored a six and the game was over. “Surreal and embarrassing” was one description of the game.

I have a feeling that it would have been an interesting match to watch with a bottle of Rioja to hand.

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