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Archive for September 14th, 2011

Lawcast 196:  Professor Gary Slapper – a round up on the Justice system and legal education

Today  I talk with Professor Gary Slapper about the extraordinary changes coming up in our legal system, the legal aid cuts, the streamlining of justice proposed by the Ministry of Justice, their plans to promote our ‘Rule of Law’ to a grateful world and we ask and try to answer the question:  “Legal Education – is it just a racket for the law schools – and their owners in the case of the private law schools?

Listen to the podcast

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And…thank you to Cassons For CounselJustgodirect.co.uk and  David Phillips & Partners Solicitors , Contact Law UK Solicitors for sponsoring the podcast and the free student materials on Insite Law.

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Law Review: A potpourri of legal misery

Magistrates were told to send rioters to crown court, emails show

Owen Bowcott in The Guardian has an interesting article on how the ‘higher judiciary’ appear to have approved the departure from sentencing guidelines by allowing magistrates courts to send cases to the Crown Court. Bowcott writes: “Magistrates were urged to abandon sentencing guidelines when dealing with rioters last month because “nothing like this was envisaged”, according to court documents released to the Guardian. The text of two controversial emails circulated to justices’ clerks immediately after August’s disturbances raises questions about judicial independence and the use of blanket guidance irrespective of individual cases. One human rights group described the emails as “disturbing”.

The speed at which rioters and looters were processed through the courts has been seen by some, perhaps those unfamiliar or unwilling to be familiar with our laws, as a good thing ( a demonstration of Tory led Coalition power, perhaps) and by others as a worrying development – a fortiori,  the departure from sentencing norms.

This latest revelation is a worrying development. Bowcott writes: “Paul Mendelle QC, a former chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “The idea that established Court of Appeal authorities can be set aside or ignored by the secret advice from an anonymous civil servant strikes me as undemocratic at best and unconstitutional at worst.”

But to pile on the agony…may I urge you to read this excellent blog post from CrimSolicitor…

If you would like legal advice please press #1 now…(and make sure you have your credit card details to hand)

CrimSolicitor writes:

“The recent Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill has within it a clause that would appear to allow the government to vastly reduce the right to receive your advice in person, extending the number of offences that may only be dealt with by telephone advice. This is a worry, as this leaves open the possibility of a person being charged without ever having had a solicitor properly consider the strength of the case. Clients will and do say things in a police station for all the wrong reasons, because they are scared, bored or simply want to get out of an environment that is by definition hostile or are told by the police that they will have to wait for a solicitor to attend”

BUT… do not fear… Commissioner Batman-Howe has been appointed to save Gotham City…

Hogan’s a hero: new Met chief chases and nabs bicycle thieves

The Evening Standard reveals…

New Scotland Yard chief Bernard Hogan-Howe chased and caught two suspected bike thieves weeks before being given the top job at the Met. The Commissioner, 53, who was appointed yesterday, chased the alleged teenage thieves to a housing estate and “relieved them of the bike”.

Details of the drama came as he was hailed as a “crime-busting machine” to take on London’s gangs. A City Hall source said: “It is what Bernard is all about. He takes a zero-tolerance approach to crime. It’s how he intends to run things at the Met.”

Mr Hogan-Howe was leaving City Hall after meeting Mayor Boris Johnson a month ago when he saw two boys aged about 16 on bicycles with a third bike and felt sure they had stolen it.

A City Hall source said: “He was with a local police officer and said, ‘Let’s get them.'”

My tweet du jour just has to go to..

And this tweet…!

@stokenewington @Charonqc Especially as it turned out they hadn’t. thisislondon.co.uk/standard/artic…

FINALLY.. if you thought we have problems… this from the United States (HT @loveandgarbage) should give us a sense of perspective…

SCHENECTADY — A man charged with murder got an unexpected note in the mail — a jury duty summons for his own trial in Schenectady County Court.

On Tuesday morning with his trial set to start, Visiting Schenectady County Judge Richard Giardino wisecracked that the defendant, Derrick C. Smith, told him he was more than willing to be part of the jury pool, and if selected could be fair and impartial.

Well… this should comfort us all.  In tomorrow’s edition of Without Prejudice We are joined by an experienced silk, Francis Fitzgibbon QC, and we shall discuss these and other issues.

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