Postcard From The Staterooms: Judicial edition!

Regular readers will know that I try to write once a week from The Staterooms… a more relaxed review of the week than the more clinical Law Reviews I trot out during the working week.

While Twitter was ablaze with newly minted  Egyptian experts last night… and even this morning at 5.30 am when I got up, I spent an amusing half hour reading The Sun online… more of which later… but so profound was the effect on me of reading about Jordan and her cross-dressing cagefighter ex-husband and sundry other showbiz celebs, I decided to make myself some asparagus steamed with molten butter and garlic salt poured over them to add to the pleasure.  I then decided it would be an amusing idea to pour some Gordon’s gin into my mango juice.  I don’t tend to drink at breakfast, but I do remember the late great Sir John Mortimer QC telling my law students some years ago that a glass of champagne at 6.30 am daily…  did remarkable things for the mood.  The gin and mango juice did the business..and after faffing around on twitter for a while I enjoyed a long walk down the Thames tow path, and went back to World’s End for a coffee… passing the boat I used to live on at the moorings at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea by Battersea Bridge – hence the nautical flavour of the postcard header  above.

The boats are pictured here at low tide.  When the tide came in, there was much rocking and wine bottles on the table had to be picked up and secured when the suction from the hull in the mud broke free suddenly from the force of the incoming tide.

I thought that part of my postcard this week should have a judicial theme….

First up..an interesting post from John Bolch at Family Lore on the work of Mr Justice Charles, the Family Division’s most appealed judge, apparently.

I quote from John’s excellent blog post – the full post is well worth reading:

Joshua Rosenberg has pointed out the Court of Appeal’s criticisms of Mr Justice Charles, who is apparently “the most appealed-against judge in the High Court Family Division and the one whose judgments are overturned the most”. Lord Justice Wilson said that he had spent days trying to understand the 484-paragraph judgment delivered by Mr Justice Charles, and quoted barrister Ashley Murray who had said in Family Law:

“There are certain challenges each of us should attempt in our lifetime and for most these involve a particular jump, a mountain climb, etc. Akin to these in the legal world would be reading from first to last a judgment of Mr Justice Charles.”
To which Lord Justice Wilson commented: “Mr Murray’s introductory sentences were witty and brave. In respect at any rate of the judgment in the present case, they were also, I am sorry to say, apposite.” Excellent stuff.

And then a wonderful story from The Sun…

A JUDGE let rip at “soft” Britain yesterday after he was unable to jail a burglar caught red-handed.

Seething Judge Julian Lambert hit the roof over sentencing guidelines he claimed left him hamstrung.

He said of a probation report that reflected guidance that the raider should go free: “I’ve never seen anything so wet in all my life – 80 hours community work for burgling someone’s house.”

The judge told Daniel Rogers, 25: “I very much regret sentencing guidelines which say I should not send you straight to prison. We live in soft times now.”

…. He then TRIPLED the amount of community work to 240 hours, slapped a six-month CURFEW on the crook and imposed an 18-month SUPERVISION order.

Rogers was caught trying to raid a Bristol house by the man who lived there.

Judge Lambert told him at Bristol Crown Court, where he admitted burglary: “You’ve got the lot. It may be easier for you to do the time.”

But… it is not just The Sun with the judicial stories. The Times got in on the action with no less a personage than Lord David Pannick QC having a pop at the judge who recently disgraced herself when up before the magistrates herself….

How temper tantrums and loss of judgment can dog a legal career

Lord Pannick QC writes…behind The Times paywall... but I have succumbed and subscribed…I missed The Times columnists and it isn’t that expensive even though I also buy the paper edition.

Last month a circuit judge, Beatrice Bolton, swore and stormed out of Carlisle Magistrates’ Court after being convicted of failing to control her alsatian.

It had attacked a neighbour’s sunbathing son, biting him on the leg. The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, who are now considering Bolton’s future on the Bench, should make sure that her new year’s resolution — “I will never sit in a court of law again” — is fulfilled.

Bolton, who sits at Newcastle Crown Court, walked out of the magistrates’ court when the verdict was announced, shouting: “I’m going. It’s a f***ing travesty”.

Moving away from the judges… I did enjoy this article from Joshua Rozenburg in The Guardian…..

DPP’s power to block war crimes arrests is in the public interest

Critics who allege that arrest decisions would be liable to political interference are deliberately misunderstanding the case

While it may appeal to Richard Dawkins and others to arrest Popes when they visit here… or Israeli government officials.. or, indeed anyone who can come within the definition of a war criminal….some would say, the odd president of the United States, former British prime ministers returning from important business counting their lecturing fees etc etc etc.. it does seem to me, at 6.35 pm on a lazy Saturday evening, a glass of Rioja to my left, that the ability to prosecute such matters should be placed in the hands of the DPP rather than left to sundry libertarians etc etc  to issue proceedings before a magistrate to obtain an arrest warrant… Rozenburg noting…“a warrant may be obtained by a private prosecutor on little more than a bare allegation that a named individual is guilty of an offence under English law.”.

The Guardian covers the story: “The director of public prosecutions has disclosed how he proposes to use unique new powers enabling him to block the arrest of visiting foreigners accused of war crimes abroad….. “

And… while Egypt blazes…according to The Sun…they did have time, today, to scream…

NEARLY 2,000 jailed thugs and perverts will get the vote under the latest Government plans, it has emerged.

I really do think that it is time for the government to implement the ECHR judgments and move on.  The alternative is that we come out of the European Convention or seek amendments. It would be rather ironic, given that British lawyers after WWII were instrumental in drafting the European Convention,  for us to say now that we don’t actually want to abide by it.

On that note… have a good weekend and a good week to come.

Best, as always

Charon

4 thoughts on “Postcard From The Staterooms: Judicial edition!

  1. Hi Charon

    An interesting and entertaining blog.

    A propos votes for convicted prisoners, I believe it is a condition of EU membership that member countries be signatories to the ECHR.

    Although the ECHR exists independently from the EU, so that a country can be a signatory to the former without being a member of the latter, I believe the converse is not true. Hence if the UK ceased to be a signatory to the ECHR it would have to withdraw from EU membership. There is no way the business community would permit that and so it seems the UK must comply with the ECtHR’s Hirst 2 judgement. In short Real Politik requires the government to comply.

  2. I think that there is something to be said against the idea of it being only the DPP who can apply for a “universal jurisdiction warrant.” It might, I think, be preferable for the law to allow anyone to apply but to require the magistrate to then “join” the DPP in the proceedings.

  3. there should be a special wikileaks-esque site dedicated to pointing out which nutters people are married to so we can avoid placing any credence in their opinions.

    and to forestall the usual ad homs from the usual suspects: ‘yes i am a bigot; problem?’.

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