Practice and Procedure

"Stop Delaying Justice"

PUBLISHED January 5, 2012

I didn?t make the lectures on this, couldn?t face it. I got two CPD hours in 2009 listening to a description of anyone who opposed the new criminal procedure rules regime as a ?dinosaur?. DJs included. So I didn?t fancy the Remastered with Added Exclusive Backstage DVD Footage for 2012 version. Why make myself feel like a Europhile reading the Daily Mail?

But the partners at ?Steel and Shamash? insisted we watched it anyway. Patronising and offensive, it depicts lawyers as either dullards or shysters hell-bent on frustrating the noble desires of the Bench. It could be subtitled How to Outwit the Defence ? An Impartial Guide.

After ten minutes, we started throwing popcorn at the screen. We understand ?care? kids.

It may have been the sight of an unrepresented defendant being bullied into a plea or another being told that, if they didn?t say what their defence was, then they couldn?t run it ? somewhat simplifying the evidential minefield of R v Rochford (that?s if this case applies to magistrates? courts at all. Appeal judges may wrestle with it, but for unrepresented defendants, it?s a breeze...)

Why adjourn to consider a caution when the defendant is only going to get a conditional discharge? Pathetic parliamentary dinosaurs! Why bother passing troublesome legislation to keep minor offences out of the courts? Never mind good character; think of the delay! The evil of this system, to extend the convoluted footballing metaphor of the Lord Chief Justice (Introduction ? para 3), is that the playing field is not level: it is at an angle of 45 degrees. If you block the right to proper considered advice, then you may as well tie the striker?s bootlaces together on the penalty spot. 

Do I really have to fight my way into Camberwell past protesting victims baying for justice? Is there really a masonic conspiracy of
conniving CPS lawyers and devious defence advocates delaying cases with the active assistance of scaly-skinned reptilian throwbacks on the Bench? No; this initiative is about saving money and massaging figures. It enshrines administrative convenience as a guiding principle.  ?Stop Delaying Justice? is not the same as ?Start Doing Justice?.  That costs money.

When I ask CPS colleagues if they expect to have the material to make a bad character or special measures application on a first hearing, I have to slap them to stop the giggles. Will I agree the arrest evidence for trial if they cannot give it? Where did I leave my crystal ball?

Once the police get the idea that everything has to be agreed on day one, they will realise they don?t have to comply with directions at all. ?Why bother, Sarge? The trial will go ahead anyway...?

Trials will always be effective? Look out for the airborne porcine hazard. Imagine the Sun headline: ?Alsatian Abuser Acquitted ? Fed?s Form-Filling Failure?. The idea will be killed off pretty quick.

I am comforted that the dinosaurs lived for millions of years and that they ate a lot of mice. I can get those CPD hours next year.