Friday, 9 March 2012
It's been quite a long week and I must confess that I am relieved that the weekend is here. On Wednesday I had a couple of PCMHs at the Crown Court followed by a conference with a client who is charged with a rather serious drugs offence that is coming up for trial in June. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. On Thursday, however, I had a private driving trial to defend in the Magistrates' Court. The allegation was failing to comply with a traffic sign. The traffic sign in question is such that, even if convicted, the Defendant's licence is safe from any form of endorsement. The trial should have been easy and problem free. However, whilst at court, an issue arose which resulted in the trial being vacated and, would you believe, the need for me to be called as a defence witness. I best not go into the particulars but suffice it to say I'm quite looking forward to my witness debut. I'll update you once the trial has been and gone. Anyway, the weekend is upon us and so I shall allow you all to enjoy it!
Sunday, 4 March 2012
So, my apologies for not updating my blog recently but I've been involved in a trial at the Crown Court which only came to an end on Thursday. I'm far from convinced that the jury came to the right conclusion but I'll say no more about that. What is slightly more entertaining is what happened on Friday when I was asked to cover a trial at the Magistrates' Court. A straightforward Common Assault where the complainant and the defendant had at one time been in a relationship together. She alleged that the defendant had punched her; he denied it. Everyone turns up at 10am ready for a trial but in fact the court had listed the case for 2pm but hadn't thought to tell anyone. Anyhow, I'm sitting in the advocates' room when I notice some paramedics in the public area. I look out the door to see what's happening. It transpires that the complainant in my case was drunk and that the witness service had called an ambulance as they were concerned about her. She, however, had other ideas and refused to go with them. She did, however, leave the court building saying she would return later. True to her word, she returned at about 2:30pm having, it appeared, consumed more alcohol in the interim. There was a fracas at the front desk involving security, the complainant and some other people but eventually the officer in the case, with the assistance of the prosecutor, managed to usher her into the witness room. Now at this point you're probably thinking 'well surely the Crown are not going to call this witness?' A rational thought, but you'd have thought wrong. The trial is called on and in the complainant stumbles. She can barely take the oath and she leans on the witness box before slumping into a seat. The prosecutor carries on as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened and begins to ask questions. She hasn't got a clue. She can't remember the date or what happened. With some prompting she manages to utter the words 'he walloped me and I walloped him back but only he got arrested'. When the prosecutor attempts to further question her, she begins to swear and shout and starts to leave the witness box- heading for the door. The Chairman of the Bench tries to calm the situation but to no avail. Her choice of words has now become quite choice and the Chairman has had enough. Contemplating contempt proceedings, he orders the jailer to come up from the cells and take her away- which he does whilst trying to keep a smile from his face as her verbal abuse, now directed at him, continues. I then head off to the advocates' room to see if I can find a solicitor to advise her regarding the contemplated contempt proceedings. Meanwhile, the prosecutor is on the phone to the Borough Prosecutor trying to ascertain what to do. Unbelievably, you might think, the prosecution crack on with the trial and recall her to finish her evidence once the court has dealt with the issue of contempt. My cross examination only sought to set her off again so I kept it as short as practically possible. Finally she left the court-room never to return. Or so we all had hoped. I call the defendant to give evidence which he does. During the course of it, however, the complainant makes a return visit, as indeed does a 'random' member of the public who also joins in with a chorus of abuse of his own. Both are escorted from the building by the officer in the case. The defendant is acquitted and all's well that ends well. The Chairman, who had coped very well with all that had happened, thanked Counsel and remarked that at one point he thought he and his colleagues were being set up- one assumes in some sort of Beadle's About come Punk'd spectacular. I have to say, the very same thought had occurred to me. However, as there was no sign of the ghost of Jeremy Beadle or the boyish charm of Ashton Kutcher, I can only assume that Friday was nothing more than one of those days...