Posts Tagged ‘criminal’

Daily Little Law Links

August 20th, 2010

This bunch are not as fresh as my usual posts, but are a range of things over the last few weeks that are worth bringing to your attention.

For me, studying copyright law seemed like quite a treadmil; the more I learned, the more complicated it got.  I’m pleased to know I was not alone in this, because a recent High Court judgement found even the Copyright Tribunal were a bit confused as to what they were supposed to be doing.  The press coverage is here, and the case report here.

Next, the recent edition of New Scientist looks at statistics quoted when considering DNA evidence.

The DNA analyst who testified in Smith’s trial said the chances of the DNA coming from someone other than Jackson were 1 in 95,000. But both the prosecution and the analyst’s supervisor said the odds were more like 1 in 47. A later review of the evidence suggested that the chances of the second person’s DNA coming from someone other than Jackson were closer to 1 in 13, while a different statistical method said the chance of seeing this evidence if the DNA came from Jackson is only twice that of the chance of seeing it if it came from someone else

Take a look at the full article here.

A survey by Sailpoint found that departing employees are now quite likely to pilfer client data, and our US cousins are slightly more inclined to do this than us.  23% of polled UK employees said they would take customer lists with them.    The initial report is here, and there is more discussion at The Register.

On a personal note, I learned today that I do not have the right sort of personality to work for the government.  I think I’m quite proud of that.

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Drugs and Prison

June 2nd, 2010

The Daily Express excelled themselves again yesterday with their front page:

£44M SCANDAL OF JAIL JUNKIES– TAXPAYERS are forking out more than £44million a year to maintain the drug habits of thousands of prisoners”.

There is an issue here that merits discussion.  Crime and drug use are greatly intertwined, and if we are arresting addicts, giving them custodial sentences during which their addiction in maintained rather than treated, and then they are released with the same dependence they were arrested with, clearly something has failed.  However, the Daily Express doesn’t bother with analysis, as it’s too busy inventing numbers.  The “£44m” from the headline is the what the Daily Express claim the Integrated Drug Treatment System (IDTS) will cost in 2010/2011.  This much does become clear in the article; the headline’s implication that inmates are shooting though £44m of methadone is accidental I’m sure.  However, The Daily Mail say IDTS will cost £109m (also note the posed photo of the ‘prisoner’ who seems to have access to quite a garden from his cell).  This is quite a leap from the £23.9m that clinical services, INCLUDING IDTS cost in 2008/2009 according to answers to Parliamentary questions compiled by this blog.

Also,  this quote:

Shocking figures out yesterday show that every day the state pays for one in six of the entire prison population to be given methadone or other heroin ­substitutes.

The report by independent think-tank Policy Exchange warned that by next year 73,000 prisoners will be receiving the medication

The UK prison population last week was 85,147 (Home Office Bulletin) so where does “one in six” come from?  Also, the report they refer to makes no such warning, as it would mean that 85% of the prison population would be given methadone!

Is it laziness, or just writing the story they want to see?  It will come as no surprise that both articles soon get around to blaming the Human Rights Act, and their devoted followers use the comments section to suggest the reintroduction of the death penalty as a solution.  The Guardian attempts something a little more balanced, but comes awfully close to suggesting that it’s all the prison staff’s fault.

The best solution is to read the original report from the Policy Exchange and have your own sensible thoughts on this problem – the media certainly won’t be providing any.

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Daily Little Law Links

February 25th, 2010

There is a higher education theme to today’s post.

The Times reports on the case of a lecturer who claimed unfair dismissal from Bournemouth University, which found another marker to review student papers after they had been failed by this lecturer and his colleague. Considered narrowly, the judgement seems to be a good example of an implied trust and confidence term being found, and more broadly raises questions about standards in universities. Law graduates, perhaps more than most subjects, are partially reliant on the perceived teaching quality of their alma maters’ in securing employment, so the doubts raised by this case are unhelpful. At least in theory Qualifying Law Degrees are monitored by the Bar Standard’s Board.

Which neatly leads on to Charon QC’s blog post on the BSB’s inspection of BPP. As this is quite an obscure subject, Charon’s take (as one of the founders of BPP) makes interesting reading. I find myself firmly on the fence with my thoughts. On the one hand, the free-marketeer in me thinks they should be allowed to sell the course to as many as they feel able to teach effectively. The BVC (now BPTC) fees are very high among all the London providers and well beyond the cost of studying a Master’s degree. More places and more providers would increase competition and theoretically lower prices. On the other hand, the next step for these students is a pupillage and there are (I think) roughly five BVC graduates competing for each available pupillage every year. Those four unsuccessful candidates are left with a very expensive postgraduate qualification of limited value for employment away from the Bar. Finally, basic self-interest makes me quite nervous about the idea of them being ultra-careful about the number of offers made this year (though I might reconsider that if it was me forced to sit on the floor during lectures!).

Lastly, yesterday I ranted about the Prime Minister and said that the topic warranted a post to itself. Well, MTPT has done just that, including comment on the guidelines, which were released today. Do have a read…

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Daily Little Law Links

February 24th, 2010

Some stories and brief thoughts, every one of these deserve a longer post!

  • This story from Big Brother Watch (and the report that it links to) is close to my heart – I very nearly did my dissertation on exactly this but was then distracted by libel, so I’m glad to read someone else’s take on who can now enter your property without a warrant. Rather positively from someone who murmurs about repealing the Human Rights Act 1998, Mr Grieve QC MP (Shadow Justice Sec.) seems equally alarmed and ready to close these particular doors.
  • Think about this scenario: Bernard, from Germany gets a rare temporary job in the London office of his bank. Over the year, the job becomes permanent and so he sends for his wife, Steffi and 13 year old daughter, Iris. Iris enrols in the local school and Steffi, supported by her well-paid husband, stays at home and bakes cakes for a few years. Two years after his permanent move, Bernard is dispatched temporarily to the New York office. Steffi and Iris remain in the UK, being uncertain of the duration of the placement and not wanting to disrupt Steffi’s schooling. Bernard then loses his job in New York, but cannot stand to be parted from his new mistress, Anna and moves into her apartment in New York as well as filing for a divorce from Steffi.

Steffi has no qualifications and is still learning English. Her parents in Germany are dead and her only other living relative is a sister living Australia. Iris is about to sit her GCSE Exams.

Should we a) Immediately deport Steffi and Iris back to Germany or b) Pay Steffi Job Seekers Allowance and Housing benefit until she finds a job so that Iris has a roof over her head to finish her education? Fortunately, as a lot of people read the Daily Mail, it doesn’t actually matter what you think, because the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided years ago that the most important thing in my little story is the stability of Iris’s education. Iris cannot live alone, and so the state must support her mother to facilitate her continuing education. This is the idea that has been affirmed in yesterday’s judgement of the ECJ which the BBC report here and the Daily Express splashed the story on their front page as:

WHY BRITAIN IS SPONGERS’ HEAVEN” followed by “MEDDLING EU judges sparked outrage last night after giving scrounging foreigners the green light to sponge thousands of pounds from British taxpayers.

To bring my little story closer to the facts of the case, and the true reason for the ire of the Express, imagine Steffi was originally born somewhere in Africa. The judgement can be found here: London Borough of Harrow v Ibrahim C-310/08

  • We’ve heard a great deal about the PM in the last few days, but for me it is this that I find most offensive: Gordon Brown: don’t legalise assisted suicide.
    The link is to an article about the PM writing in the Telegraph about the dangers of softening the law on assisted suicide, targeted at the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service who is about to release new guidance on the issue. It is not his position that offends me, but his cowardice. As Prime Minister and leader of a party with a large majority in Parliament, he is free to create almost any law he wants. The idea of him as a noble bystander, pleading with the CPS to protect our grandmothers is repulsive. If he felt that strongly about it, legislation could be passed in weeks to make it absolutely unquestionably illegal to assist anyone’s death in any way, by any means. He doesn’t feel that strongly, and he doesn’t want to come out on the wrong side of a lose-lose debate in an election year, despite the CPS and the Supreme Court saying the law needs clarification (that’s judicial speak for “Parliament – do something!”). I don’t care who he’s rude to, or what he throws around his office, but to duck this issue is just shameful. Because of this, the Director of the CPS has to unpick the existing mess and decide who (legally) gets to live or die – I really don’t think the Prime Minister has any right to tell him how to do it.
  • Finally, and surely of no interest to anyone outside legal education, the Bar Standards Board has published its report into how BPP coped with its over-subscribed year in 2009/2010. I think the report reads quite well for BPP, though the students clearly benefited from the BSB’s intervention. Hopefully more reports will go up before this year’s offers go out next week. The page containing the report is here.
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Daily Little Law Links

January 20th, 2010
  • An amusing employment hearing which goes to the heart of the legal profession (as the saying goes, the way to lawyer’s heart is through his claret… or something like that) is reported in The Telegraph today.  Do check with Charon QC for his incentive to those who are able to provide more details.  It really is no surprise; Middle Temple has a long history with “pirates” (as my Spanish friends insist on calling our honourable Mr. Drake)  – just look at where they got their cupboard.
  • Mr Hussain was not, contrary to some media reports, given a judicial seal of approval for his vigilantism today, as the appeal was dismissed yesterday.  He did have his custodial sentence suspended, allowing the media to claim that he was “set free”, which seems to miss the point.  Now everyone will be wanting to beat their burglars into mental wards… On the other hand, I suppose “mercy” may have been deserved as he did find a less monotonous use for a cricket bat than is the norm.

  • Congratulations to Big Brother Watch, who officially had their launch campaign this week.  This group is certainly one to watch for some of the research they provide links to.  I especially enjoyed the shocking evidence that body-scanners may not be perfect solution to airborne terrorism.
  • UPDATE:  I couldn’t let this pass, clearly The Telegraph’s law correspondents are on fire today.  Do read the full article, he was not really sent to prison for licking a chicken.

Finally, a brief apology for the quiet week, but blogging is very public admission that I am not revising for a Trusts exam.  Please return next week when normal service will resume and I will explain why placing cameras in courts is terrible idea, and nuclear weapons are good for international law (or at least my dissertation says so). Now off to re-read Vandervell…

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Forensic Evidence

December 13th, 2009

There was a really interesting programme on Radio 4 this week about how the police use forensic evidence and how it is possible that the underfunding of the service that provides the analysis has already lead to miscarriages of justice.  I’m afraid it’s not my cup of tea, but would be an intelligent point to raise during interviews if you have expressed an interest in that field.  For the public, the message seemed to be if you find yourself on the wrong end of forensic evidence, heed your lawyer’s advice to pay out for another round of independent analysis.

You can listen to the programme again here.

In other news, Guido is breaking injunctions again.

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Daily Little Law Links

November 27th, 2009
  • I was captivated by Sir Jeremy Greenstock’s testimony at the Iraq Inquiry today.  It really was a short lecture on customary international law.  The FT describes it well, but the full transcript is already online here.
  • The Police have had a troubled week. Firstly, The Guardian questions how essential stop-and-search was if it has now been reduced by a third.
  • Then, the National Audit Office released a report staying that solicitors suspect the police deter suspects from accessing their (free) services.
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Daily Little Law Links

November 26th, 2009
  • It seems that the hacker Gary McKinnon is about to illustrate why our one-sided extradition policy with the US as now seems certain to face trial in the US.
  • My favourite discussion with my criminal law lecturers was why NHS directors did not often face charges of corporate manslaughter.  Stories like this confirm my view.
  • Legal aid is an increasingly sensitive issue, but perhaps there would be more of it to go around if was administered properly.
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Joint Enterprise

November 22nd, 2009

Picture the park entrance near your local run-down estate.  Outside, you see two stereotypical wastrels, hoods up, approach the entrance in conversation.  The grey hoodie wearer enters the park, whilst the blue hoodie wearer waits outside, nervously glancing around.  Minutes later, you hear a scream; the grey hoodie dashes out of the gate and runs off with the blue hoodie.  After running in to find the origin of the scream, in the distance you see a little old lady on the ground with a bloody wound to her neck.  The police arrive and ask you to describe the hoodies.  The paramedics pronounce the poor victim dead at the scene.

The police swiftly arrest Adam (grey hoodie) and Ben (blue hoodie).  What will happen to them? Firstly, should they share the same punishment?

It is more complicated than you might think, and like all the most interesting elements of criminal law, it depends on their mental state or their respective intentions.  There are three scenarios that could transpire in the police interview.

  1. Adam and Ben had never met before that day.  Adam found Ben waiting outside a corner shop and offered to pay him £20 if he stopped anyone coming into the park for 5 minutes.  Ben had no idea why he was doing this and doesn’t know what happened in the park.  He took his £20 and bought his girlfriend some flowers.
  2. Adam and Ben are both serious cocaine users and need money quickly.  They know Mrs. Miggins walks across the park on the way back from the post office, so they decide to rob her using a kitchen knife as a weapon.  Ben is less keen on the plan as they start to walk over and tries to back out.  Adam says Ben shouldn’t worry, that they won’t hurt Mrs. Miggins, and if it makes Ben happier, he can just be the lookout whilst Adam goes into the park.
  3. Adam and Ben are seeking entry to a local gang, and the entry ritual involves stabbing an innocent local and giving the purse or wallet of the victim as a tribute to the gang leader.  The gang leader, Carl, was watching from a car on the other side of the park.

This rather dark Sunday afternoon tale is intended to highlight the practical problems distinguishing between the legal concepts within secondary participation (the legal term for a group effort when comitting a crime).  It is currently relevant because the Crown Prosecution Service are trying to use the joint enterprise rules as a way of targeting gang violence, but it is quite a blunt instrument to use, as Ben might discover.  The BBC’s Panorama programme ‘Lethal Enterprise’  tomorrow evening on BBC One will be exploring this issue in more detail, so this post is intended to set the scene.

I will post an update to the Adam and Ben story later in the week.

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Garrow’s Law

November 17th, 2009

To compensate for my self- imposed BBC blackout, we rejoin the Corporation’s output with the continuing mini-series Garrow’s Law. Mr Garrow is probably doing more in his 18th century depictions of the profession than many of his 21st century counterparts. My pleasure at this series stems from the very engaging dramatisation of the actual Old Bailey records, which allows me to point towards the case reports we have seen performed.

Episode Two centred around the case of Renwick Williams in 1790. A quite a lot of dramatic licence finds its way into this episode, but the facts at least seem to be taken from this case report of the second trial. The debate about the appropriate charge can be found here. It seems worth noting that media hysteria attempting to second guess a court is alive and well, over two hundred years later.

Episode Three began with a Mr. Cole accused of rape, which the records show that Mr. Garrow unsuccessfully prosecuted, rather than successfully defended. The report really is worth reading, if only for the ending:

[Here the witness proceeded in a narration too indelicate for publication, which, however, did not amount to legal proof of the crime charged against the prisoner in the indictment.]


The series concludes next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.

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