Bar students asked not to start till next year

Saturday 26 September 2009 at 8:16 am | In News | Post Comment

The Bar Standards Board has told BPP Law School to ask some of its Bar Vocational Course (BVC) students to delay their start dates because there are too many BVC students.

BPP has offered a “loyalty discount” of 15 per cent on next year’s fees to students who defer.

Peter Crisp
Peter Crisp
Dean of the school Peter Crisp has guaranteed places on the 2010 Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) which replaces the BVC.

BPTC students pay will pay £14,700 for the course next year, but the aptitude test for entry onto the BPTC will not now go ahead after concerns about it were raised by the Office of Fair Trading.

The aim of the test was to filter out students who do not have a realistic chance of passing the year-long course and thereby close the gap between the number of students undertaking the BVC and the number of pupillages.

Lawyers earn more from busking than legal aid

Friday 25 September 2009 at 6:41 am | In News | 1 Comment
Basil Preuveneers and Denis Cameron
Basil Preuveneers and Denis Cameron
It is reported in The Times that two solicitors, Basil Preuveneers and Denis Cameron, took to the streets this week to highlight the fact that legal aid earnings have become so eroded that lawyers’ rates are now £70 an hour – or less, when fixed rates are paid regardless of how much work is done.

In the 40 minutes they busked they raised nearly £70 – proving that they could do better as street musicians then defending people’s rights. They have donated the money to the Law Society Charity, which distributes funds to other charities and initiatives.

Full report here

Drink drive judge resigns

Wednesday 23 September 2009 at 9:47 pm | In News | Post Comment

His Honour Bruce Macmillan, 63, a Crown Court circuit judge since 1993 in Liverpool, who was allegedly drunk in charge of a motor vehicle has today, resigned.

David Lace was the killer of Teresa de Simone: confirmed by DNA

Saturday 19 September 2009 at 10:22 pm | In News | Post Comment
Sean Hodgon spent 27 years in prison for the crime committed by David Lace. In 1988, Lace aged 26, raped and strangled Teresa de Simone aged 22 in Southampton. Nine years later Lace killed himself.

Lace, a petty criminal and drifter from Portsmouth had been tormented by his crime, the knowledge that an innocent man was in prison for it and by the refusal of police to accept his confession. He cut his wrists, took an overdose of painkillers finally suffocating himself with a plastic bag. In the weeks before his suicide, he gave up work and gave away his possessions.

It was not until 17 September 2009 that the police publicly identified him as the killer.

The police exhumed Lace’s body to match his DNA to the murder of Ms de Simone; the match was a “billion-to-one” confirming Lace was the killer and proved beyond any doubt that Sean Hodgson was the victim of an injustice.

Sean Hodgson
Sean Hodgson

Lace’s body was the third to be exhumed to obtain DNA; the first was that of Joseph Kappen in 2001 who had killed three young women in 1973. Hanratty was dug up in 2002 to prove he had killed Michael Gregsten.

Over twenty years after Lace’s death, Mr Hodgson again appealed this time DNA evidence ensured his acquittal. The murder inquiry was reopened.

Material from the 1979 crime scene gave the Forensic Science Service a profile that narrowed the search for her killer down to 30,000 records on the national database

Old-fashioned detective work involving examination of old case files and tracing people who gave statements 30 years ago led police to a relative of the killer, David Lace.

Mr Hodgson is in poor mental and physical health and needs regular medication and psychiatric care.

Mr Hodgson’s solicitor will seek compensation for his client, which will be capped at £1million, minus a charge for the accommodation and food ‘enjoyed’ by Mr Hodgson during the last 27 years.

His Honour Bruce Macmillan on a second drink-drive charge?

Saturday 19 September 2009 at 10:04 pm | In News | Post Comment

Police again arrested His Honour Bruce Macmillan, 63, this time in Hill Street, Liverpool, on Thursday for allegedly being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. He is on bail for a similar charge less than month ago.

The judge, who sits at Liverpool’s Crown Court, will appear before Chorley magistrates on September 30 to face the original drink driving charge.

Police first arrested him on August 27 after he drove his Vauxhall Signum on the M6 in Lancashire allegedly over the limit.

Barrister Mark Saunders – fatal shooting no prosecution

Saturday 19 September 2009 at 11:28 am | In News | Post Comment
Mark Saunders
Mark Saunders
In May 2008, barrister Mark Saunders 32 died when police firearms officers in Chelsea West London shot him at least five times. He had been shooting at police and neighbours from his home.

Charges of murder, attempted murder and manslaughter would not succeed against the officers because there was no evidence that any of the seven who fired 11 bullets did not honestly believe that they were acting in self defence, defence of a colleague or protection of the public because they were in immediate danger.

Charges of gross negligence and misconduct, and health and safety charges against those in charge of the operation could also not succeed in court.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated the shooting but did not interview the officers involved in the incident, instead relying upon their written accounts of the shooting, because authorised firearms officers are treated as witnesses rather than as suspects. They will make public their report after the inquest.
A High Court challenge has paved the way for significant changes to the police practice of pooling notes after firearms incidents.

Jurors and the difference between right and wrong

Friday 11 September 2009 at 6:49 am | In News | Post Comment
12 angry men
12 angry men

The legal standard for dishonesty found in R v Ghosh is whether a defendant’s actions were honest according to the standards of reasonable and honest people, but research has shown that this test may create inconsistency.

Online research of more than 15,000 volunteers by Emily Finch and Stefan Fafinski, of Brunel University suggests that no such universal standard for honesty exists.

The study found that women are more likely than men to see actions as dishonest, but men are more likely to convict. For example, 92 per cent of women thought that it was dishonest to make an insurance claim for pre-existing damage to a car, compared with 85 per cent of men. Only 47 per cent of women, however, would be prepared to convict somebody of fraud on this basis, compared with 55 per cent of men.

Older people are more likely to take a tougher line and people are less likely to consider an action dishonest if they have done it themselves.

Respondents were asked about insurance fraud, student plagiarism or theft from an employer. Even in apparently cut-and-dried cases, more than 3 per cent felt that it was not dishonest to take a DVD from a shop without paying for it.

Further researcher will take place in a mock courtroom to see if the presence of a judge and barristers and peer pressure in the jury room influence decisions.

Judges’ training

Saturday 5 September 2009 at 9:57 am | In News | 1 Comment
Judge in full-bottomed wig
Judge in full-bottomed wig
The training of 2,000 full-time judges in England and Wales is to change; the Judicial Studies Board, which will become a Judicial College with its own prospectus, will allow judges to pick their own training courses. The courses will be run from April 2010 to 2012.

Three years ago a review of judges’ training needs was undertaken by Dame Professor Hazel Genn, now Dean of the Law School at University College London.

Its two main conclusions were that training needed to be far more tailored to the needs of individual judges, short of giving one-to-one tuition. Second, the focus of training should be on practical skills, or judgecraft, not the substantive law.

The analysis also said that that far more teaching could be done online, judges could embrace the electronic age and e-learning.

The review also highlighted concern that judicial training in England and Wales was thin compared with other jurisdictions such as Canada. Judges here are trained when appointed and after that they have perhaps two to three days a year. Now it will be four days, three of which will be residential, plus lectures and e-learning,

Another key element is management skills. When the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 made the judiciary an independent arm of the constitution, judges became responsible for a whole host of administrative activities, such as deployment and welfare. Increasingly they have to manage other judges, chair committees and undertake a host of activities other than judging in court.

The original plan would have cost more than £3 million a year, now, it will cost less than £1 million a year.

High Court judges are able to attend the training seminars and the Judicial Studies Board has proposed that new High Court judges have five days’ training in their first year and at least two days a year after that. The board is drawing up training plans with the High Court judges and a three-day residential course in serious crime will be tested this time next year.

Judges will be better able to manage their cases, assess witnesses’ credibility, make correct decisions and provide sound reasons. They will also become confident in dealing with a range of people and with unexpected events. And they would deliver judgments that were well-reasoned and comprehensible and sentencing remarks and summings-up better tailored to the facts of a case. In all these ways the administration of justice will be enhanced.

Transsexual prisoner to move to a female prison

Saturday 5 September 2009 at 7:54 am | In News | Post Comment
TV celebrety Sam Brodie - Big Brother winner is a transexual
Sam Brodie - Big Brother winner is a transexual

A transsexual killer who also tried to rape a woman must be moved to a female prison.
Holding her with men breaches her rights.  The prisoner, has obtained a High Court ruling that keeping her in a male prison is a violation  of her rights.

The 27-year-old inmate, was originally convicted of manslaughter in 2001 and jailed for five years.

Less than a week after her release on licence two years later, she attacked a shop assistant, forcing her into a back room, tied her up with a suspender belt and tried to rape her.

She was given a life sentence for that offence under a “two strikes” system following the manslaughter conviction.

Full story in The Telegraph here.

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