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Archive for August 4th, 2010

The Telegraph reports: “Recorder Alun Jenkins QC warned barristers that any young defendants who fail to address him properly may be locked away immediately with their cases suspended. The judge’s comments came after he vented his frustration at a 24-year-old car thief who had pushed him to breaking point by repeatedly answering “yep” when questioned at Gloucester Crown Court.

“….the judge warned barristers in court that a lack of respect would no longer be tolerated.

He said: “What I observed yesterday was a defendant who appeared to me to be insolent.

“Dumb insolence is a wonderful military offence that allows you to put them on a charge without them uttering a word. I haven’t got such a power in this court but there is clearly a lack of respect going on which needs to be addressed.”

Recorder Jenkins, an experienced barrister who has been sitting as a part-time judge since 1993, continued: “Defendants will call me ‘Sir’ or ‘Your Honour’. I don’t mind which because I don’t stand on ceremony.

“But they will show respect. I would like you to pass that down to all advocates and defendants.

“Any lack of respect will result in the case being put back with the defendant put in custody to consider his position.”

I can well understand the Recorder’s frustration – but banging someone up with their case suspended could well make matters a whole lot worse? Not being a judge or magistrate I can’t really comment from that perspective but I do know that ‘insolence’ is best dealt with by ignoring it. I would have thought it best, in the presumably fairly rare cases where defendants don’t show respect to the court, to simply proceed and not give them the satisfaction of knowing they have managed to irritate the bench? Perhaps those of you who sit in a judicial capacity would like to express a view? I can just picture the ridicule, press and twitter comment if a judge ‘lost it’ in court.  It would be interesting to see the statute or criminal provision requiring defendants to say ‘Yes’ instead of ‘Yep!’  Perhaps it is buried away somewhere in our common law?

I could only find one Alun Jenkins QC on Google.   Maybe this is not he of the story above?  Maybe this is him? I think they are one and the same… yep…. pretty sure of that. But is it Recorder Jenkins? Justice…after all… must be seen to be done.  Yep / Nah?

Inevitably, a response from Twitter…. @AlJahom has a point, of course.. whereas…  I am on holiday… mea culpa

I am grateful to @TheFirmOnline for this gem…

Swearing man escapes fine

The BBC reports in 2001: A man who was fined for swearing at police has been cleared after appeal judges ruled that he was using “the language of his generation”.

Kenneth Kinnaird, 43, of Baillieston, Glasgow, was charged with breach of the peace and resisting arrest after he told two police officers who stopped him to “f*** off”.

BREAKING NEWS: I have been advised by @loveandgarbage that the above “F**k off” case  is not cut and dried.  See para 5 of this law report (a very short judgment – admirable brevity!)

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A load of old bull…..

All day on BBC radio – and, I suspect, on the TV news –  the BBC has been covering this story about a cloned bull from America getting into the food chain.  Apparently, the Yanks are allowed to clone bull, but we, in Britain, despite our quite obvious expertise in matters of bull, are not allowed to do so so.  The Daily Mail, naturally, has been giving the blazer wearers of Britain something to chatter about at golf clubs

Well…. I have solved the problem.  I have eaten the bugger….so Britain is safe again.

I shall be returning to analysis of more serious matters shortly……

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The Guardian published a short article by Louis Blom-Cooper QC this morning…. I quote it in full because it is an important point of view.

Jonathan Steele tells us (Iraq’s missing witnesses, 2 August) that the Chilcot inquiry in its report will not be providing any definitive judgment on the legality of the Iraq war in 2003 because “it [the inquiry] is not a court of law”. While it is indisputably true that any civil or criminal liability for going to war would be a matter exclusively for courts with the jurisdiction and power to determine any legal responsibility, the public inquiry is not debarred from stating authoritatively the status of the invasion of Iraq under international law. More specifically, the inquiry in its primary function of finding all the relevant facts must not be inhibited from doing so, even if, in its findings, it would be inferring blameworthiness on the part of any person, corporate or personal. That would be a legitimate secondary function for the inquiry.

If, for example, John Chilcot and his fellow panel members conclude that, in the weeks before the invasion, the attorney general (Peter Goldsmith QC) had unequivocally told the Blair cabinet that to go to war with Iraq would be illegal under international law without further coverage from a UN resolution, they should say so, without qualification. It would be just as important that, should they find also that between 7 and 17 March 2003 Goldsmith appeared to change his opinion and advice to cabinet, and, if so, why he did, the inquiry should say so. And they should indicate whether he was right or wrong on either occasion. Nothing along these lines would in any way constitute a usurpation of the function of any court which may or may not in the future be entrusted with the task of determining civil or criminal liability for the war. But the public interest in a thorough examination and unbiased report demands no less than a determination of legality at any stage in the process leading up to and involving the invasion.

Louis Blom-Cooper QC

There are many lawyers who expressed concern – at the time and later as evidence came out during the Chilcott Inquiry –  that the war in Iraq was not in compliance with International Law.

A simple, but tripartite, question which I do not know the answer to, so I invite comment:  (a) What is the ‘international’ validity of International Law?  (b) Did we break it? and (c) Why should we abide by international law when other nations do not do so?

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