Legal Aid

Training Day

PUBLISHED March 23, 2014

“But Bruce, I have got a hospital appointment, I can’t wait!”
She is indeed in need of drug therapy but I doubt that she will be seeing anyone medically qualified.
The solicitor known as the Camberwell Vulture is circling so I get hold of the Advance Information and complete a legal aid form for Sue Grabbit and Runne.
“It’s a Not Guilty, Bruce.”
Three bottles of vodka stuffed down her trousers, past the checkout, the CCTV revealing a V-sign at the  camera, she signs the officer’s   notebook entry of “I won’t do it  again”. The interview consists of “**** off, can’t you NFA it?” uttered from underneath a blanket in the cell.
(Spare me DJ Baraitser – she’ll never buy a Not Guilty...
“And what is the real issue, Mr Reid? I am not sure that ‘The defendant’s evil twin did it’ describes the defence case accurately.”)
“Now, Karen, it looks like you may have to plead to this.”
“But I can’t, Bruce, I am in breach of a suspended!” “That’s not a defence either, Karen. Let’s leave it to 2.00. (Sue Grabbit may be able to body-swerve this one but I’m not going to try.) You could do it yourself if you really have to go to hospital. Just say, “Not guilty” and I will file legal aid forms. Then they can do the trial for you.”
If the court start on the case management hearing form, they will give up after ten minutes of addled confusion from Karen; the legal adviser’s usual technique is to set it down for 90 minutes on a day she is on leave and let a bemused trial court figure out the defence.
I file the forms to forestall the Vulture and get on with the typical Duty fodder of Failing to Provide
Any Sample The Police Request and Women Who Beat Themselves Up  – at least according to their wrongly accused menfolk.
I am lonely; none of my mates are here except   a shamefaced assistant given no choice by a firm that thinks that we are going to win this by asking the MoJ  nicely.
I have to explain why firms are not here. Their excuses bear a striking resemblance to those of the average defendant’s failure to attend.
“Thought it was Tuesday, Madam.”
“ Woke up chained to a lamp-post in Krakow, he has gone home to change out of the tutu.”
“Her banjo lesson has overrun.”
The courts are uniformly sympathetic: not one Archbold is thrown in my direction.
Karen gives up at 12.30 and pleads guilty. The Bench who eventually hear it are so overjoyed at having something to do that they fail to spot the suspended sentence. Sue Grabbit will get a representation order. Everyone is happy.
- Bruce Reid