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McKenzie friend in criminal court?

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Re: McKenzie friend in criminal court?

Postby Maz JP » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:22 pm

:)

By the way, Shootist, I know there are all sorts of restrictions on when a Duty Solicitor can act for someone in Court (but sadly, I can't remember what those precise rules are!), but is this not one of those times - speaking at a first-time appearance for an offender who is pleading guilty - when a Duty can act?

If so, that would definitely be the best course of action.
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Re: McKenzie friend in criminal court?

Postby shootist » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:10 pm

Well, there was a solicitor who acted for my friend during his arrest. He turned up and managed to put a (very!) favourable interpretation of the rules governing legal aid, and ended up speaking for my friend. I was watching and I think he did an OK job. £450 in fine, compensation and costs now owing by my friend, at £10 a week.

I did leave the court wondering just what this fine and compensation achieved. Him on a reduced income that is already very low, less able to afford suitable accommodation in which he can maintain his relationship with his children for some time, a fine that he could have been paying to support his children. £43 a month goes a long way for a single mother with three children. If his circumstances had been fully considered by the court then his ex partner and his children would have been much better off, both financially and personally. In terms of punishment I would question whether that should be a consideration. His conviction seemed to me to be punishment enough. Still, if the only solution you have is a hammer, then every problem starts to look like a nail.
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Re: McKenzie friend in criminal court?

Postby Maz JP » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:21 pm

Probably best I don't comment too much, but I have some sympathy with that point of view. Financial penalties can be terribly blunt instruments.
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Re: McKenzie friend in criminal court?

Postby shootist » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:22 pm

Well, I doubt it's what Solomon would do. Still, for better or worse my friend now feels liberated from a millstone and able to get on with his life afresh. He worries greatly about his kids, with good reason IMO. It will be more difficult for him to get a decent job now, a problem which would have been made easier with a conditional discharge, so his children are likely to be deprived financially for the foreseeable future.

Had this man been some future Jeremy Kyle show exhibit, wanting only to use his children as some sort of weapon or bargaining chip, were he a typical estate scum Friday night regular wife beating drongo, I would not have witnessed his court appearance because he would not have been my friend. What I saw in that court, listed as a Domestic Violence court was a rubber stamp in action. I imagine/hope that the three lay magistrates had some sort of training for their DV role but it didn't seem to show. Their humanity, if it existed, was very well hidden. Instead it seemed that boxes were correctly ticked and selves were satisfied. Such few words said by the bench related only to the police case summary. My feelings on the matter are of sadness at an indifferent machine. Never mind.
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Re: McKenzie friend in criminal court?

Postby Maz JP » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:16 pm

They will have been trained to sit on a domestic violence Bench.

They will also have been hopefully trained to keep their humanity well hidden, as you note. The last thing justice needs is members of the judiciary bringing - and worse, displaying - their more subjective human values to adjudication. Or, even worse, home-spun homilies from the bench.
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Re: McKenzie friend in criminal court?

Postby shootist » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:10 pm

Maz JP wrote:They will have been trained to sit on a domestic violence Bench.

They will also have been hopefully trained to keep their humanity well hidden, as you note. The last thing justice needs is members of the judiciary bringing - and worse, displaying - their more subjective human values to adjudication. Or, even worse, home-spun homilies from the bench.


It may then be that their function could be performed more quickly and efficiently, and much more cheaply, by a computer. An old BBC one would be overkill from what I saw that day.
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Re: McKenzie friend in criminal court?

Postby Maz JP » Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:09 am

shootist wrote:It may then be that their function could be performed more quickly and efficiently, and much more cheaply, by a computer. An old BBC one would be overkill from what I saw that day.

And it may well be that this is exactly what the MoJ would want. Who would want an independent judiciary, when you can readily have them under your control, as you can computers or District Judges?

Honestly, I do have some sympathy with what you are saying. Courts can seem somewhat inhumane and process-driven, especially when the penalties (as in the case you cite) are fairly straightforward, and require little in the way of dialogue. A bit of consultation, a pronouncement and one moves swiftly onto the next case.

Why? Well, if yours was a GAP [Guilty Anticipated Plea] court, then the Bench may have had a very long list to power through. It's not unusual in my manor for a GAP court to have forty cases to deal with in five or six hours ; you do the math, as they say. We can't hang around.

In Youth Court, where the objectives of sentencing are somewhat different to what they are in Adult, we are encouraged to reach out and and engage with offenders, (again not easy with a long list). It has always surprised me that this same edict doesn't apply the second an offender turns 18, but there we have it, it doesn't. You may want humanity; you may want offenders to be understood and engaged with, but you won't necessarily get it in Adult Court - not from a magistrate, a District Judge or a Recorder. You might get it from a Crown Court judge, but they have more latitude to be 'individuals' of course. Social workers we are not.

Something I place great importance on, however, and what I hope you get in every court in the land, is absolute courtesy. You'd certainly get it from me and my colleagues, and that may go some way towards countering the effects of inhumanity that you describe.
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Re: McKenzie friend in criminal court?

Postby shootist » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:40 pm

Maz JP wrote:
shootist wrote:It may then be that their function could be performed more quickly and efficiently, and much more cheaply, by a computer. An old BBC one would be overkill from what I saw that day.

And it may well be that this is exactly what the MoJ would want. Who would want an independent judiciary, when you can readily have them under your control, as you can computers or District Judges?

Honestly, I do have some sympathy with what you are saying.


That is much appreciated. For me it is just a bloody irritation and just symptomatic of the bloody mess this country is in. He'll get by, and hopefully remaining apart from her. She has already attempted contact by all accounts. He is treading very carefully. His mind seems made up. I have to say that separation is not likely to be good for her, or the children. Good or bad for the children, they will be better off IMO with their parents separated. Life goes on.
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